Aurora shooting has Hamilton Co. connections
AURORA, Colo. (AP) – SWAT officers who stormed a Colorado home where a gunman had holed up found a horrific scene – four dead bodies including that of the gunman.Police said the armed man fired shots at officers Saturday from a second-story window before officers killed him. Once inside, they found the bodies of three other adults.
The Daily Freeman-Journal was able to confirm that one victim, Stacie Philbrook, and another who escaped the scene, Stephanie Philbrook Archuleta, are both daughters of Greg Philbrook, Kamrar. According to Twyla Philbrook, his sister-in-law, Greg Philbrook and wife Irene had flown to Aurora and arrived safely Sunday.
Twyla Philbrook, Webster City, said they knew little about what happened or what has happened in the aftermath.
“Stacie is gone. That’s all we know,” she said. “The last we heard, Stephanie is OK.”
The suspect, whose name was withheld by police, held officers at bay for nearly six hours after neighbors reported gunfire at 3 a.m. inside the modest townhome in the Denver suburb of Aurora, said police Sgt. Cassidee Carlson.
It wasn’t known if officers shot the suspect or if he shot himself.
Investigators said two men and a woman appeared to have been killed before officers arrived.
The suspect shot at police who approached the front of the home with an armored vehicle and who fired tear gas around 8:15 a.m. He was killed when he fired at officers from the second-story window about 45 minutes later, Carlson said.
“After we arrived on scene, there were no more shots fired up until he fired at us,” Carlson said. “During this time he was all over the house. He moved furniture. He was throwing things. He was agitated. He was irrational.”
A large front window was missing in the two-story townhome, the window’s mini-blinds in disarray. Bullet holes marked two upstairs windows, and neighbors milled about outside.
A fifth person escaped unharmed and called police to report that she saw three people inside the home who “appeared lifeless,” said Carlson, who declined to elaborate about the woman’s escape.
A motive for the killings was unknown, and police had yet to say what weapon or weapons were used. Investigators wearing gloves and carrying evidence bags were going over the crime scene.
Officers evacuated neighbors’ homes during the standoff and used a bullhorn to communicate with the gunman, urging him to surrender.
Next-door neighbor Melissa Wright, a nurse who treated victims of the July movie theater shootings in Aurora, said she was in her second-floor bedroom when she saw the gunman start shooting from his own bedroom window. She said she didn’t know what he was shooting at, and that she quickly dropped to the floor.
“I hit the ground pretty fast,” Wright said.
Wright said she slid on her belly to the first floor of her home and told police what she saw upstairs. Officers quickly entered her home.
Wright said she knew the gunman as Sonny Archuleta – a name used by police officers trying to negotiate with the man with the bullhorn. Wright said the townhome may have been inhabited by the gunman, the gunman’s wife, her father and another man.
The shootings occurred about four miles southeast of the Aurora Mall, where 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded by a gunman at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20. The man charged in that shooting, James Holmes, goes to court Monday for a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors will present their case against him.
The July shootings prompted Gov. John Hickenlooper – just before the Newtown, Conn., massacre – to say it is time to debate gun control. It’s expected to be a heated topic at the Colorado Legislature this year.