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Adams County

Funeral services set as community grieves in wake of fatal shooting of deputy

Many questions surround Jan. 24 shooting near Thornton

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The only thing that the Adams County Sheriff’s Department was saying officially about a Jan. 24 shooting in the 8700 block of Dawson Street was that one of their own, 31-year-old Deputy Heath Gumm, had been shot and killed.

From Sheriff Michael McIntosh to District Attorney Dave Young, officials were silent on just about everything else they know about the shooting, from what led up to it to what kind of weapon was used.

Via Twitter on Jan. 26, the sheriff’s office identified 22-year-old Dreion Martise Dearing as the suspected shooter, but McIntosh declined to talk about the suspect and demanded that media not use his photograph. Dearing was in court Jan. 26 facing charges of first-degree murder of a police officer, assault and burglary and was due back in court Jan. 31 for a formal-charges hearing.

It’s a sad, difficult time for his office, McIntosh said at Jan. 26 press conference, before asking the media to give deputies the weekend off from media questions.

McIntosh said police were no longer looking for two other men involved in the incident. McIntosh said deputies were able to contact the two and met with them. They have not been charged with any crime and are free, he said.

Investigators released the Dawson Street crime scene the afternoon of Jan. 26, but McIntosh said police were still speaking with potential witnesses.

McIntosh said there were no other updates and that no other information would be released over the weekend.

A funeral for Deputy Gumm has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 2 at Flatirons Community Church, 355 W. South Boulder Road in Lafayette.

McIntosh also said his department was attending three funerals for retired sheriff's office personnel over the weekend and into this week, including a service for former Sheriff Bill Shearer.

“The Adams County Sheriff’s Office, right now, is grieving, we are hurting and we are doing an investigation,” McIntosh said. “We are running hard and trying to make sure we are covering all of the appropriate information that we need to cover. We need some time this weekend to make sure we are connecting the dots to everything that is going on.”

Assault reported

Gumm was among the Adams County deputies who responded to reports of an assault in progress at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 on Dawson Street near 87th on reports of an assault in progress.

When told the suspect had fled the scene, deputies began searching the area and contacted a male that matched suspect descriptions, according to the sheriff’s office’s original news release.

According to the release, the suspect ran and deputies pursued him behind a nearby house, where he allegedly pulled out a gun and began shooting, striking Gumm in the chest.

Gumm was taken to an area hospital and pronounced dead there. Gumm lived in Westminster with his wife and family members. He had been with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office since 2012.

McIntosh said Gumm was wearing a tactical vest that the deadly bullet bypassed.

“There are places on a vest that are not protected, and sometimes this is what we see,” McIntosh said. “Until we get further into it, we will not know what happened, whether it was a failure of the vest or if it struck an area the vest did not cover.”

The suspect, meanwhile, ran off but was later found and taken into custody. Deputies continue looking for two other men regarding their involvement in the initial assault.

McIntosh said police had the area shut down within 30 minutes of the shooting. The neighborhood is located in unincorporated Adams County, one block east and south of Thornton’s southern municipal boundary.

It remained that way until late the afternoon of Jan. 25, with crime-scene tape and police vehicles blocking both sides of the 8700 block of Edison, Desoto and Dawson street. Police kept the middle of the block of Dawson Street isolated until they released the scene on Jan. 26.

Schools closed

Mapleton Public Schools closed 11 area schools on Jan. 25 due to police actions while Adams County 12 Five Star Schools closed five of their schools for the day. All schools reopened on Jan. 26 and classes resumed.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office set up a public tip line, 720 322-1313, to collect information about the shooting.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered flags flown at half-staff in Gumm’s honor on Jan. 25.

At the Adams County Sheriff’s Office substation at 72nd and Colorado Boulevard, mourners and well-wishers brought food and water for deputies and built a makeshift memorial to honor Gumm.

Donated flowers, stuffed animals, balloons and candles were later moved to decorate a sheriff’s department vehicle near the site. Families and mourners continued to come to the site over the weekend.

That outpouring was recognized by Gumm’s wife, parents and siblings. The family issued a letter Jan. 26 thanking the community for their support.

“We have truly been amazed by the generous nature of the community,” the family said in their letter. “Our hearts are warmed by the display of compassion from complete strangers who stood, and continue to stand, alongside our family.”

McIntosh said his office had created a link off of the sheriff office’s web page (www.adamssheriff.org/deputy-gumm) to provide information about Gumm, the shooting, donations in his honor and upcoming memorial services.

McIntosh said the department has been working with the family to find a good venue for a memorial service.

The funeral itself has been scheduled for 11 a.m. in Lafayette's Flatirons Community Church. That's a non-denominational church with an auditorium that seats up to 3,000 people.

He noted that Colorado’s law enforcement community had been through a similar experience within the past month when Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish was shot to death by a suspect on New Year’s Eve. His Jan. 5 funeral drew more than 5,000 mourners, and McIntosh said he expected a similar response for Gumm.

“It takes a huge venue and a lot of logistics to put it together,” McIntosh said.

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