UPDATE: 1:30 p.m.
The two people killed by Douglas County deputies Tuesday night in an RTD station parking garage had warrants out for previous vehicle thefts, law enforcement said Wednesday.
One suspect was already on the radar of the Denver Police Department.
“These two were part of a string of auto thefts this year across the northern border of Douglas County,” said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock during a news conference. “This is something we are seeing more and more across the Denver metro area every day.”
The suspects, which Spurlock declined to identify, stole a Kia sedan from Pueblo and parked it inside RTD’s Lincoln Station parking garage in Lone Tree Tuesday night.
Deputies with the county’s Pattern Crimes Unit noticed the car around 11:30 p.m. while surveying the garage for suspicious vehicles. The car was backed into a spot, had no license plates and the front windshield was covered with a shade visor.
“They knew someone was inside because they could see the car moving,” Spurlock said. “My guess is they were probably hiding.”
Before walking up to the car, deputies called for backup. With six officers on the scene, the group knocked on the driver’s side window of the Kia, but got no response, Spurlock said.
Suddenly, the two suspects began shooting out of the driver and passenger side windows.
Over the next 8 or 9 minutes, the deputies and suspects exchanged gunfire three different times. Roughly 35 rounds were fired between the two sides, Spurlock said.
Both suspects died in the shootout. One deputy had minor injuries to their face from shattered glass from the driver’s side window and was transported to a local hospital.
The sheriff’s office closed the Lincoln Station garage overnight and into Wednesday morning to investigate the incident. The garage reopened around noon Wednesday.
The next of kin of the victims were being notified Wednesday. Both were under the age of 32, Spurlock said. The shooting remains under investigation by the 18th Judicial District critical incident response team.
Spurlock said the incident was the latest example of how auto theft is becoming more of a problem in metro Denver. Well over 400 cars have been reported stolen so far this year in Douglas County, an uptick from previous years.
The county has appointed a dedicated unit to investigate stolen vehicles and patrol busy commercial and residential parking areas.
“This is the number one crime affecting the metro area because it’s related to other crimes like drug possession and burglary, which are rising,” Spurlock said. “If you steal a car in Douglas County we’re going to chase you. I’m asking every other judicial district to be more aggressive on this as well.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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