Adams County

Deputy killed in Thornton shooting

One in custody as police continue search for two involved in assault


Crime tape came down Thursday afternoon and schools were allowed to reopen as police continued searching for two men involved in a Jan. 24 shooting that killed Adams County Deputy Heath Gumm.

Sheriff Michael McIntosh, speaking at late afternoon press conference Jan. 25, had little to add to early reports about the shooting.

He did correct an Adams County press release from earlier in the day that described two men police were seeking as suspects.

"It's difficult to call those two suspects," McIntosh said during the afternoon press conference. "They are folks that have information about the original disturbance."

McIntosh said Deputy Gumm, 31, was among the officers who responded to Dawson Street at about 87th for 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 original press release. The suspect ran and deputies pursued him behind a nearby house, and the suspect allegedly pulled a handgun 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 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 ran off but was later found and taken into custody. Deputies continue looking for two other men, described as black or dark-skinned Hispanic males dressed in dark clothing, regarding their involvement in the initial assault.

McIntosh said police had the area shut down within 30 minutes of the shooting. It remained that way until late Thursday afternoon, with crime-scene tape and police vehicles blocking both sides of the 8700 block of Edison, Desoto and Dawson street.

The neighborhood is located in unincorporated Adams County, one block east and south of the City of Thornton's southern municipal boundary.

Due to law enforcement activity in the area, Mapleton Public Schools closed the following schools on Jan. 25: Academy High School, Achieve Academy, Clayton Partnership School, Explore Elementary, MESA, MEC, Monterey Community School, Meadow Community School, North Valley School for Young Adults, Welby Community School and York International School. 

All schools were expected to be open on Jan. 26.

The Adams County Sheriff's Department has set up a public tip line, 720-322-1313, to collect information about the shooting or the whereabouts of the two men.

Those seeking to donate to Gumm's family are asked to give to the Adam's County Sheriff's Department Foundation.

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

Other residents showed their support for Gumm, other deputies and police in different ways. Michael Kapaun, 30, of Thornton brought an American flag to the crime scene's perimeter to show his support for officers.

"This not a time where people should be shooting police officers," Kapaun said. "This is a time for us to protect officers. This is why I'm doing it."

At the Adams County Sheriff's 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 Thursday evening.

Larry Talmadge, 62, of Northglenn brought bottles of water, tins of cookies and some candy for officers that he expected would be working late on Thursday. Talmadge said he recognized officer Gumm, who had pulled him over once when Talmadge's vehicle had a broken taillight.

"I knew him," Talmadge said. "I had an incident with him at one point, and I think he was just a great cop. He pulled me over, told me what was wrong and sent me on my way. I think he was just a great guy."

Talmadge said his own son is studying criminal justice.

"And it just scares me to death," Talmadge said.

Saylee VanVelkenburgh of Roxborough said she left work Thursday afternoon to bring flowers for the memorial and water for the officers.

"There are no words," she said. "I feel for his family, I feel for the officers and this is the least I could do."


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