by Catherine Smith
A private security guard who claimed self-defense will face a second-degree murder charge in connection with the shooting death of a man following political rallies last weekend, the Denver district attorney’s office said Thursday.
Dolloff was allegedly hired to protect a KUSA-TV news crew covering opposing protests in Denver’s Civic Center Park on Saturday. One, was called a “Patriot Muster,” while a counterprotest by left-wing organizers was billed as a “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive.”
According to an arrest warrant, the fatal encounter began around 3:30 p.m. when the victim, Lee John Keltner, 49, a Navy veteran, was leaving the rally and ran into Dolloff in a courtyard near the Denver Art Museum. The shooting occurred after a “verbal altercation,” police said Saturday.
Photos of the incident taken by a photographer for the Denver Post showed Keltner appearing to strike Dolloff on the side of the head with his hand. Other photos taken by the Post photographer showed Dolloff drawing a semiautomatic handgun and aiming it at Keltner, who appeared to be spraying a can of pepper spray.
In another photo, Keltner is seen laid out flat on the ground, a can of pepper spray next to his body, as Dolloff continued to point his gun at him.
Police quickly arrived at the scene and immediately took Dolloff into custody at gunpoint. Keltner was transported to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Police said two guns and a can of mace were recovered at the scene. Officials declined to say earlier this week to whom the guns belonged.
Keltner’s death was ruled a homicide by the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.
Dolloff claims he feared for his life and opened fire when the victim allegedly reached into his shirt, Dolloff’s lawyer told The Associated Press earlier this week.
In a statement released Sunday, KUSA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Denver confirmed Dolloff was a contractor from a third-party vendor.
“It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests,” KUSA said in the statement.
However, according to Eric Escudero, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses Dolloff is not licensed to be a security guard in Denver. If Dolloff was operating without a license, he could be fined up to $999 or face up to a year in jail and the company could face administrative action if this were the case, according to Escudero.
Denver investigators refuted rumors that Dolloff was a member of Antifa, a militant left-wing political movement.
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