Armed man arrested after breaking into Colorado Supreme Court building

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals building in Denver, Dec. 20, 2023.

Updated 2:02 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024

Denver police arrested a man early Tuesday morning after he allegedly shot out a window at the Colorado Supreme Court building and broke inside.

The man, identified as 44-year-old Brandon Olsen, held a security guard at gunpoint, stole keys and walked through the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center while firing more shots, according to a police affidavit.

Olsen caused “extensive damage” to the building, but caused no injuries. It’s unclear how many people were inside at the time of the break-in.

The judicial center, which is also home to the Colorado Court of Appeals, was closed Tuesday as authorities investigated.

“The CSP and DPD are treating this incident seriously, but at this time, it is believed that this is not associated with previous threats to the Colorado Supreme Court Justices,” Colorado State Patrol said in a statement.

It’s unclear what motivated the break-in, though police say it was not related to previous threats against the Colorado Supreme Court. Federal and local law enforcement agencies in Colorado are investigating death threats made against the justices after they narrowly disqualified former president Donald Trump from Colorado's 2024 GOP primary ballot.

What happened and what's next

The shooting began shortly after a car crash outside of the judicial center.

Around 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning, two cars collided at the intersection of 13th Avenue and Lincoln Street, police said.

Olsen reportedly grabbed a handgun and fled the scene on foot. Soon after, he shot out a window on the east side of the judicial center and entered the building.

Officers said he fired additional shots as Denver police officers surrounded the building, but it’s unclear whether he shot toward police.

An unarmed security guard from the Colorado State Patrol Capitol Security Unit heard a loud banging noise in the building. As the guard walked through the hallway toward the sound, he turned the corner to find Olsen kicking open a storage room door. After the security guard offered to unlock the door, Olsen pointed the handgun at him and took his keys.

“The individual held the security guard at gunpoint and demanded access to other parts of the building. The individual obtained keys from the security guard and proceeded into other parts of the building and accessed an unknown number of floors,” the Colorado State Patrol said.

Olsen made his way to the seventh floor, where he fired additional shots, though it’s not clear what he shot at, if anything.

At 3 a.m., he called 911. He then walked outside and voluntarily surrendered to police.

Officers say Olsen appeared to have set a fire on the seventh floor of the building, which set off a fire alarm.

Olsen was taken from the scene to the Denver Health Medical Center. He was cleared by doctors and later transported to Denver Police headquarters. It is unknown what Olsen was treated for at the hospital. DPD is currently working out the extent of damage to the building.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office has not filed charges against Olsen at this time.