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Suspect in string of axe, knife assaults in Pueblo dies

Pueblo Police investigating homicide on Spruce Street
Posted at 9:13 PM, Dec 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-07 00:02:47-05

PUEBLO — The Pueblo Police Department announced the suspect involved in a string of violent axe and knife assaults, including a homicide, that shocked a south side neighborhood in Pueblo has died.

The incidents, which police said started Tuesday night, are all under investigation. They took place on Spruce Street and Lake Avenue.

Police identified the suspect as 34-year-old Jacob Martinez Thursday morning.

He was taken to the hospital in serious condition after he stopped breathing while being held on the ground by neighbors who stepped in to stop Martinez from assaulting a 75-year-old.

News5 spoke with those impacted by this violence. It forced some people to fight for their lives, defend their families and neighbors. Sadly, for one person, it ended in murder.

"I just wanted to get home and stay alive," Greg Heuerman said.

Heuerman said he was sitting in his van on Tuesday night getting ready to go to dinner. That's when he saw a man run across the street towards him with an axe.

"Broke my window, took a second swing at my van. I held the door open. He slashed the side of the door, chased me through the van, out the side. We end up on the ground. He swung at me for my head. I put my arm up," he said.

Heuerman said he was able to knock the suspect down who then ran away. His injuries forced him to go to the emergency room.

"I have a cut on my head, contusion on my arm, and I got cuts on my legs," Heuerman said.

His story is just the start of a violent rampage in the neighborhood. About three hours later on Lake Avenue, Yolanda Gomez said her dad was assaulted by a man. The description matched the one from Heuerman's attack.

Gomez said when the man knocked on the door he asked for someone they didn't know. He left and then came back.

"He was trying to open the door, kicked the door. I went to go get my dad and he was stabbing the door with a knife that he had," she said.

When her dad confronted him the man, Gomez said he "pulled the knife out, went after my dad and grazed him across the chest and on the back right here with the knife, dropped the knife, took off running."

Just a few minutes later another call came in. This one was back on Spruce Street.

"Officers contacted several neighbors who were restraining the male suspect on the ground. They were restraining him because we was assaulting a 75-year-old male in a wheelchair," Officer Brandon Beauvais with the Pueblo Police Department said.

Police said as the suspect was being held on the ground he stopped breathing and was taken to a local hospital.

"While investigating this active disturbance officers were approached by another neighbor from four houses down who had stated she saw a deceased male in her yard," Beauvais said.

PPD identified the man who died as 63-year-old Donald Ritchie.

Police are treating that incident as a homicide. This is the 10th homicide in Pueblo this year.

PPD said an autopsy will be conducted on Martinez by the Pueblo County Coroner.

News5 learned from Heuerman that the man who was murdered is known to him as "Don." Heuerman describes him as a nice older gentleman who's lived in the neighborhood for years.

This investigation is still active. Police ask that if anyone has information about these assaults or the homicide to please call the department at (719) 553-2502.