A suspected mental health-related incident has left two teenagers dead following an event that began in Douglas County, Sheriff Tony Spurlock said during a Jan. 15 news conference.
The incident, which is being investigated as a murder-suicide, began at Mile High Academy in Highlands Ranch on Jan. 14. The victim, a 17-year-old girl, got in a car with Samuel Hoffman, 18, after school.
Hoffman, from Centennial, then took her to another parking lot nearby and murdered her, Spurlock said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies began searching for the pair after Hoffman posted on his social media page about “concern with his behavior with the victim,” Spurlock said.
Police eventually found Hoffman’s vehicle on the side of I-25, south of Colorado Springs. They made contact with him, then found him inside, moments after he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The girl, whom the sheriff’s office has decided not to publicly identify, was found in the backseat.
Hoffman, who never attended Mile High Academy but often visited the victim there, had previously been placed on a mental health hold there after an incident on the campus, according to authorities. He was also being investigated in Aurora for a November domestic violence incident involving a girlfriend.
Hoffman and the victim in this case had been friends for years, but it’s unclear if they had a romantic relationship, Spurlock said.
“This is a horrible tragedy that we are trying to sift through to gather as much information as we can,” Spurlock said.
Hoffman had a .22 caliber pistol in his possession, which he would not have been old enough to buy in the state. An investigation is continuing into how he acquired the weapon, Spurlock said.
The motivation for the crime is unclear but law enforcement believes Hoffman’s struggles with mental health played a part, Spurlock said,
“In our community I continue to urge folks that are in a mental health crisis and people who know about that to call,” Spurlcok said. “There are a number of places that can be notified in the state of Colorado... our wish is that those things can be reported as soon as possible so we have the opportunity to intervene in a tragedy like this”
Hoffman had attended Littleton High School until December 2018, when he began a GED program in Littleton Public Schools. He quit that program in April and hadn’t been in school since, a sheriff's office spokesperson said.
Mile High Academy — a private, Christian school on Dad Clark Drive — confirmed the death of the school's student and issued a statement, which Spurlock read at the press conference.
“We want this family to know that they are in our thoughts and prayers,” according to the statement. “Mile High Academy has been working very closely with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office as they continue to investigate this tragedy.”
The school plans to have grief counselors available for students.
Correction from today's press conference: Hoffman attended Littleton High School until Dec 2018 when he left on his own to attend a GED program through @LPSK12. He dropped out of the program in April 2019 and was not known to attend any other school since then. https://t.co/wbrDpzzc3R— DC Sheriff (@dcsheriff) January 15, 2020
Correction from today's press conference: Hoffman attended Littleton High School until Dec 2018 when he left on his own to attend a GED program through @LPSK12. He dropped out of the program in April 2019 and was not known to attend any other school since then. https://t.co/wbrDpzzc3R
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