Colorado Supreme Court break-in suspect appears in court as DA weighs charges

· Jan. 4, 2024, 1:26 pm
The Colorado Supreme Court building at 2 E. 14th Ave. in Denver.The Colorado Supreme Court building at 2 E. 14th Ave. in Denver.Pat Mack/CPR News
The Colorado Supreme Court building at 2 E. 14th Ave. in Denver.

The man accused of breaking into the Colorado Supreme Court building with a gun earlier this week appeared in front of a Denver judge on Wednesday. Meanwhile, police restated their belief that his actions were not politically motivated. 

The Denver District Attorney’s Office requested Brandon Olsen, 44, be held on $100,000 bond, which the judge granted. An investigation remains ongoing and no charges have been filed yet, according to the DA’s office and the Denver Police Department. 

“This was not a politically motivated incident,” a DPD spokesman said in an email. “DPD and the Colorado State Patrol are treating this incident seriously, but at this time, do not believe this to be associated with previous threats to the Colorado Supreme Court Justices.”

Olsen has been arrested in Colorado several times over the past decade. He pled guilty to misdemeanor theft in 2014, according to court records. He also faced drug alcohol-related charges in 2011 and 2013. 

Olsen’s ex-wife told the Denver Post that he had driven from his home in Arizona to try to see his children and was likely suffering a mental health breakdown. 

Around 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Olsen’s car collided with another vehicle 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 Ralph L. Carr Colorado 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 fired additional shots on the seventh floor of the building and started a fire, which first responders later extinguished. 

The incident came as 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.

The judicial center remained closed to the public and employees Thursday. Water damage to several floors is significant and likely will take months to repair, said Jon Sarché, public information officer for the Colorado Judicial Department. 

“Our main focus is on employee safety and continuity of operations for all tenants of the building,” Sarché said. “It could be weeks before employees can return to work in the office tower.”

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