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Police: Gun used by suspect to kill woman walking her dog in June belonged to Denver officer, not issued by DPD

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Posted at 1:12 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 15:12:30-05

DENVER — The gun a suspect used to fatally shoot a woman walking her dog in June belonged to a Denver police officer, but was not issued by the Denver Police Department, police said Tuesday.

Michael Close, 36, is accused of shooting 21-year-old Isabella Thallas and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Darian Simon, outside an apartment complex in the Ballpark neighborhood in June 2020. Thallas died at the scene and Simon was shot twice, but survived.

Close was a close friend of a Denver police officer and took an AR-15 from the officer's home without the officer's knowledge or permission, said Doug Schepman, public information officer with the Denver Police Department.

When the officer learned his rifle was missing and may have been used in the homicide, he notified investigators that the rifle belonged to him, Schepman said.

Schepman confirmed Tuesday the rifle was not issued to the officer by the Denver Police Department.

According to a probable cause statement, on June 10, Close shot the couple from an apartment unit just before noon after yelling at them through a ground-level window about their dog defecating on the ground near the apartment. Simon said he heard a person yell at him, “asking if the victim was going to train the dog or just yell at it," the statement reads. He told police he tried to ignore the suspect until he saw what he thought was a pellet gun pointed at them from the window. The man then opened fire on the couple, according to the statement.

Police later confirmed it was an AR-15.

Close fled from the scene after the shooting but was located just after 1 p.m. that day by a Park County Sheriff’s Office deputy after a BOLO alert was sent out for his vehicle.

Close faces 12 felony counts, six misdemeanor counts and four possible sentence enhancers if he is convicted in the shooting. According to the court records, he faces the following charges:

  • One count of first-degree murder after deliberation
  • One count of first-degree murder – extreme indifference
  • One count of attempted first-degree murder after deliberation
  • One count of attempted first-degree murder – extreme indifference
  • One count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon
  • One count of first degree assault – extreme indifference
  • Six felony counts of possession of a large-capacity magazine during a crime
  • Three misdemeanor counts of possession of a prohibited large-capacity magazine
  • Two misdemeanor counts of prohibited use of a weapon
  • One count of disorderly conduct for possessing a firearm
  • Four possible sentence enhancers related to the commission of a violent crime and use of a weapon

Close's arraignment is set for March 8 at 8:30 a.m.