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Aurora man sentenced for shooting park ranger inside Rocky Mountain National Park

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Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 31, 2022

DENVER — An Aurora man was sentenced in federal court on Monday for the 2021 shooting of a park ranger inside Rocky Mountain National Park.

Daron Marquel Ellis, 29, was sentenced to 23.5 years in federal prison after earlier pleading guilty to attempted murder in the second degree of a federal officer and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, according to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado.

The shooting happened on Dec. 8 2021 inside Rocky Mountain National Park. The ranger was wounded after he was shot in an area protected by the ranger's ballistics vest. The ranger returned fire, striking Ellis.

The incident began earlier in the day as a traffic stop outside the park in Larimer County. When Ellis took off in a stolen 2016 Hyundai Sonata after stopping, a Colorado State Patrol trooper pursued for a short distance before ending the chase and contacting park rangers about Ellis, who was entering the park.

When Ellis entered the park, a park ranger stopped the 29-year-old Aurora man and shots rang out. Prosecutors said Ellis began firing multiple rounds at the ranger from inside his car. The ranger returned fire and Ellis eventually surrendered and was taken into custody.

Both Ellis and the ranger were transported to a hospital. The ranger had a bruise approximately 10 inches in diameter on the left side of his chest where he was shot, according to the release. Both were treated and released.

“To shoot at and try to kill a peace officer is a particularly egregious crime that will be punished with significant time in federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan in the release. “We wish the National Park Service ranger the very best as he continues his recovery from this incident.”

Ellis was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.