Denver police have arrested a private security guard working for a television crew on suspicion of murder after he shot and killed a man believed to be part of a ‘Patriot Muster’ rally outside the Denver Art Museum.
The Patriot Muster protester maced the security guard, who then pulled out his handgun and shot him dead, the Denver Post reported – with their photographer capturing the moment in an astonishing image.
Denver Police Department (DPD) confirmed on Saturday night the profession of the shooter, and that he had no affiliation with the Patriot Muster’s rival BLM-Antifa protesters.
The security guard was working for 9News.
‘A 9NEWS employee and a 9NEWS contractor were taken into custody,’ the channel stated, saying that the second of the two people was not connected to the shooting.
‘The private security guard was contracted through Pinkerton by 9NEWS. It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests.’
A private security guard working for a local television station is seen opening fire on a man who maced him on Saturday
The security guard turns after fatally shooting the man who maced him, at 3:37pm on Saturday afternoon in Denver
The security guard fell to his knees and immediately surrendered after fatally shooting the man who maced him
Police had deployed in large numbers for Saturday’s rival rallies, and at the sound of gunshot, at 3:37pm local time, they rushed to the scene.
The security guard still had his handgun in his grasp, and as the riot police swarmed him, guns pointed, he fell to his knees, hands above his head, and dropped the weapon.
He was arrested, along with a second person, who was later deemed to be unconnected to the shooting.
The victim was reportedly shot at point-blank range and was taken to a hospital where he later died, Joe Montoya, chief of DPD’s investigations division, said at a news conference on Saturday evening.
‘There was a verbal altercation that transpired at the area of the shooting,’ he said, declining to connect the gunman and the victim with the protests until the police finished their investigation.
Two guns were recovered at the scene, he said.
‘Officers are investigating a shooting that occurred in the Courtyard by the Art Museum,’ Denver Police Department (DPD) tweeted.
‘This shooting is now being investigated as a Homicide,’ they confirmed.
This is the moment the alleged gunman is arrested moments after he reportedly shot dead a Patriot Muster member who maced him in the face. A gun can clearly be seen to the right of the protester
Police detained the gunmen and several other people following the shooting in Denver on Saturday afternoon
The victim, believed to be attending a Patriot Muster rally, was shot and killed following an argument with a security guard
Paramedics took the victim to hospital where on Saturday afternoon he was declared dead
Both the victim and the gunman were white men, Chief Montoya said. They were not publicly identified by the authorities.
Richard Johnson, who witnessed the shooting, told CBS4 he saw nothing leading up to it that was out of the ordinary.
‘I’m wondering what possible explanation there could be,’ he said.
‘There didn’t seem to be any altercation, there wasn’t any yelling coming from that way, the victim didn’t seem to be advancing on him in a menacing way.
‘He is a large man. But I suspect when this all shakes out it may be something other than what we might think at first.’
Rival rallies had been called for Saturday afternoon by the two opposing groups.
The victim (pictured on the ground after being shot) died shortly after he was shot at the Patriot Muster
Officers rushed to the scene of the shooting, near the Civic Center, and formed a cordon around the dead man until ambulances arrived
Denver has seen a series of tense protests and counter protests this summer.
A masked protester burnt the Back the Blue flag
On July 20 a ‘Back the Blue’ rally organized by local media personality John Tiegen, an ex-Marine and Blackwater private security guard, descended into chaos as Tiegen’s sympathizers were met by left-wing counterprotesters.
On Saturday, as with the previous weekend, the right-leaning protesters were inside the amphitheater area while the left-leaning protestors were outside.
One member of the BLM-Antifa crowd burnt the blue-colored Stars and Stripes flag used by pro-police groups, pouring lighter fluid over it and setting it ablaze at the feet of the DPD officers.
Large numbers of officers attempted to keep the two sides apart.
Police were not letting anyone else into amphitheater area, but by 3:30pm, the Denver Post reported, the barrier appeared to be coming down.
Police fired what appeared to be pepper balls into the crowd, after people from the leftist group started rattling the barrier headed into the amphitheater.
Tiegen had summoned his followers to a 2pm ‘Patriot Muster’ in the Civic Center park with the slogan: ‘Stand up, show up.’
The slogan bore similarities to Donald Trump’s response when asked to condemn white supremacists and the Proud Boys. Instead of disavowing them he said: ‘Stand back and stand by’.
‘Join myself and hundreds of fellow Patriot Americans for a Muster at Civic Center Park 2pm sharp,’ he wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t let the communists, socialist party and groups intimidate or Oppress you any longer! Come join us and be heard & seen and celebrate OUR freedoms.’
BLM-Antifa organized their own rally in the same spot, at 1:30pm – telling their supporters: ‘Counter protest the fascist rally nearby!’
Chelsea Jacobs, a member of the Denver Communists, said that Saturday’s event, which the group called a Black Lives Matter-Antifa soup drive, had been organized in response to the Patriot Muster.
The ‘soup rally’ was meant to be ironic in response to comments that far-left protesters throw soup cans, she said.
The protester stood in front of the police as the flag went up in flames
The moment of fire: Smoke erupts (in the top right corner) after the gunshot rang out at the protest
A large numbers of officers, in the area to try and keep the two sides apart, then rushed to the scene
Tiegen, the Patriot Muster organizer, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police.
Police expected there to be trouble. In previous weeks they have asked organizers to cancel or postpone their rallies, to try and tone down tension.
Ahead of Saturday’s rallies, they issued a statement saying the department ‘respects the right to peacefully assemble.’
John Tiegen, organizer of the ‘Patriot Muster’ group, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police
They continued: ‘Those who participate in protests, demonstrations, marches, or other gatherings, as protected by the First Amendment, are reminded to do so in a lawful manner.
‘Individuals who choose to act outside of local, state and federal law, will be subject to citation or arrest.’
Tiegen is the author of the book 13 Hours, detailing the botched Benghazi raid, which was turned into a film.
Tiegen spent four years in the Marines and then several years as a security contractor with Blackwater Security on missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, he says on his website.
Tiegen then worked for the CIA on their Global Response Staff, deployed to 40 countries around the world.
He was in Libya in September 2011 when the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked, and four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed.
He received the Award for Heroism and Valor for his bravery that night.
Back in his native Colorado, Tiegen has carved out a career for himself as a motivational speaker.
He regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his views.
On Saturday he said his Facebook page had been taken down.
Tiegen promoted the Patriot Muster gathering with the words: ‘Stand up. Show up’
John Tiegen (left) is pictured at the Republican National Convention in 2016 discussing the 2011 Benghazi attack
From left: Mark Geist, Kris Paronto, John Tiegen and actor Dominic Fumusa arrive for a special screening of 13 Hours in 2016