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Father shoots man who opened fire on his family in museum parking lot

The suspect who shot at the family has been arrested and faces seven charges, including four counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Father shoots man who opened fire on his family in museum parking lot
Posted at 8:55 AM, Jan 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-03 10:55:53-05

A suspect who allegedly shot at a family in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science's parking lot before the father shot him is facing multiple charges of attempted murder.

As of 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Denver Police Department could not say if the injured suspect, identified as Oscar Alejandro Mendoza, 21, has been released from the hospital.

The shooting happened on Dec. 31 around 2:45 p.m. Officers with the Denver Police Department responded to the parking lot of the museum after receiving a report of a robbery.

When they arrived, police found several casings, bullets and vehicles that appeared to have been damaged from gunfire. They also found a victim and his family, and were able to ask them about what had happened, according to a probable cause statement.

The victim told police he was driving with his family — including his girlfriend and their two children — and they pulled into the parking lot. The man said he was changing his shirt as his girlfriend got the two children out of the car. He was carrying a concealed carry handgun in his waistband.

The man then saw two people — whom he described as Hispanic males with thin builds between the ages of 18 and 24 — quickly approach him. He told police they had handguns with extended magazines drawn and pointed at him, according to a probable cause statement. They also ran up to his girlfriend with the firearms. The man said he feared for the life of his family.

He said the suspects grabbed him and told him to give them the silver chain around his neck. One of the suspects then hit him in the back of the head, he said. He believed that the man hit him with the butt of the handgun, according to a probable cause statement. The father then pulled his gun from his waistband and pointed it at the two suspects, he told police.

One of the suspects fired several rounds at the man, with one round striking the rear passenger side of the vehicle. The man told police he fired back at the suspects, who fled on foot northbound and fired an additional round at the family as they ran, according to a probable cause statement. It was not clear if the man believed he had struck either suspect.

Nobody in the family was struck by gunfire.

Witnesses said the suspects got into a vehicle, possibly a 2010-2017 dark gray or black four-door sedan, similar to a Chevy Cruze or Nissan Altima, and drove off.

One other car was damaged in the gunfire.

Shortly afterward, police were alerted that a person had walked into a hospital with a gunshot wound at 2:51 p.m. This person was identified as Mendoza. Surveillance footage showed that a car similar to the suspect vehicle had dropped two people off at the hospital and then continued southbound, away from the hospital. One of the two people — Mendoza — was wearing clothing that matched partial surveillance footage from the shooting scene at the museum. The other person fled from the hospital before police arrived.

Mendoza was medically unresponsive due to his injuries and remained in police custody at Denver Health. It is not clear if he recovered enough to be discharged.

He faces seven charges; four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of felony menacing and attempted aggravated robbery.

No other details were immediately available.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer at Scripps News Denver.


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