By Kathleen Foody, Associated Press
The suspected gunman in the death of a Colorado sheriff’s deputy is scheduled to appear in court on Friday as police continue searching for two other men who were nearby at the time of the shooting and are wanted for questioning.
Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh said Thursday that police believe they have the gunman in custody but he refused to release the man’s name or a photo. McIntosh told reporters that the information could compromise the ongoing investigation into Deputy Heath Gumm’s death Wednesday night.
Court records, though, said 22-year-old Dreion Martise Dearing was being held on suspicion of homicide of a peace officer and second-degree burglary in the county jail. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Gumm, 31, and other deputies were responding to a disturbance in a residential area about 8 miles (13 kilometers) north of downtown Denver when the shooting took place, the sheriff’s office said.
Deputies were called to an “assault in progress” and saw one of the suspects run behind a house. When deputies caught up with the man, he pulled out a handgun and opened fire, striking Gumm in the chest, the sheriff’s office said. The suspect fled but was later taken into custody.
McIntosh said Gumm was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time but declined to specify where the bullet hit the officer. He said an autopsy was conducted Thursday afternoon.
McIntosh said police believe three people, including the accused shooter, were involved in the original altercation that brought deputies to the area. The other two people are not suspects in Gumm’s death, he said.
The sheriff’s office has not released names of those people or a detailed description.
Police combed the area of the shooting for evidence Thursday, prompting some schools in the area to shut down for the day. All of the affected schools were expected to be open Friday.
Gumm’s death came less than a month after 29-year-old Douglas County sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish was fatally shot and four other officers were wounded in suburban Denver by a man with a history of mental health problems.
McIntosh said in 30 years with the sheriff’s department he had experienced only one other officer dying “in the line of duty.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the killings “flat-out heartbreaking.”
“It seems like again and again it’s the good guys — the best — are the ones that go down,” the governor said. “I think we, as a community, have to put more work into our families and try to make sure that people understand how to defuse things.”
Gumm was married and had worked for the sheriff’s office since 2012, the sheriff’s office said.
Hickenlooper ordered state flags to remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of Gumm’s funeral.