PUEBLO — Pueblo County Sheriff’s detectives arrested a Colorado State University-Pueblo student Tuesday evening after finding out he had brought, "a large cache of loaded weapons" on campus.
Robert Killis, 24, is being held at the Pueblo County Jail on a $500,000 bond for a felony charge of possession of firearms on school grounds. Deputies seized an AR rifle, shotgun, two handguns, a bulletproof vest with steel plates, and around 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
The newly released affidavit states that deputies began the investigation on September 18 after campus police reported employees and students hearing Killis making threats. Some of his co-workers reported Killis stating in front of employees and students that he "liked killing people" and would like to "kill President Biden."
According to the court documents, co-workers told police that Killis had recently been removed from the ROTC program because of his anti-government views.
"When he started school at CSU- Pueblo, all he was fixated on at the time was being in the military. The military was all he could talk about. Once he got accepted, he joined and left school. After he completed a few years in the military, he is back at college and has changed his fixation to a negative government type of thinking. Anti-government, anti-vaccination, and he does not like anyone with power telling him what to do. He still talks like he is a part of the military forces, but does not like rules and anyone telling him to do something," the affidavit stated. "
They reported that Killis had taken his threats to the next level and started talking about buying body armor, an AR-style rifle, and pipe bombs to use to create an explosion in the courtyard where the ROTC students ate and took breaks. Killis would also talk about setting the pipe bombs off in the courtyard so when students ran, he could shoot them as they run. The document goes on to say that Killis would also fantasize about how he would execute the attack.
The affidavit stated that Killis had been carrying throwing knives and carrying around a bayonet. His co-workers reported that Killis would joke about "bayoneting someone."
"He repeatedly talked about killing and stabbing people. He has made comments about killing President, but now his focus seems to talk about killing on campus. He is really upset about getting kicked out of ROTC," the affidavit stated.
"You hear about it happening in different states and places, and then to hear about it and have something happen so close to a campus I'm on is unbelievable. I thank God every day that someone had the courage and heart to speak up," said Zack Koovas, Freshman at CSU-Pueblo.
"You have to be scared, that is firearms. It's not TV anymore, it's real life," said Momar Fall, CSU-Pueblo student.
Detectives with the sheriff’s office special investigation unit began monitoring Killis, who lives in an on-campus apartment. When they located his pickup truck, they could see boxes of ammunition, a bulletproof vest, and what appeared to be a gun case in plain view. After obtaining a warrant, detectives searched Killis’ truck and his apartment. They removed a loaded semi-automatic rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun. There were also several fully loaded high-capacity magazines, "set up in a tactical manner" along with an ammunition box filled with more rounds of ammunition.
"The evidence indicated that they didn't have the firearms for self-protection. In our investigation, we found multiple rounds that would indicate that we had to take action for the betterment and safety of the students," said Pueblo County Undersheriff J.R. Hall.
Detectives followed Killis to a restaurant Tuesday evening where he was arrested. They asked Killis if he was carrying any weapons, and he said he wasn't but that there were guns in his truck. Hall said the arrest was made off-campus in the interest of student safety.
"The students at this point in time can breathe a sigh of relief that we have this individual where he's supposed to be currently," said Hall. "We want people who see something to say something and we'll investigate. Most of the time it doesn't turn into something like this, but in this particular case as we started following the evidence and the evidence led us to conclude that we might have a safety threat."
"We need more people like that to have the courage and heart to actually step up and say this is not OK and something needs to happen," said Koovas.
Students and staff received an emergency notification on their cell phones Wednesday which contained a photo of Killis and asked them to call 911 if they see him. They received a follow-up message later in the afternoon stating that Killis had been arrested.
Rudy Gachette said he was in the middle of class when he received the cellphone alert.
"I'm very concerned," he said. "While my teacher was giving us a lecture and everything I seen the text I was very afraid about myself as well as them because I've got a family."
Justin Crisp had not signed up for the emergency notifications and was unaware of what had happened over the past 24 hours.
"I'm glad that nothing serious came about because that the situation was taken care of right away and that it faded out," he said.
Possessing a loaded weapon on school grounds which is a Class 6 Felony in Colorado. Killis is currently scheduled for another court hearing on September 30.
There is a pending Civil Protection Order filed with the attorney general's office on behalf of CSU-Pueblo. The document states that the university is concerned with the safety of employees and students. They consider him an imminent danger to campus employees and other students. The university said the document was an extra layer of protection to keep everyone on campus safe, and there be additional officers on campus.