Martin Wirth, an Occupy Denver activist who had run for State Senate on the Green Party ticket in 2014, allegedly shot three Colorado Sheriff deputies on Wednesday, killing one.
Park County Sheriff Cpl. Nate Carrigan was killed and two other deputies wounded as they were part of an eight man force serving a “contentious eviction” notice. Wirth had defaulted on his house in 2013 and was facing foreclosure proceedings.
Police say 58-year old Wirth opened fire first.
As a leader in the Occupy Denver movement, Wirth spoke out against corporate welfare, big banks, the cost of higher education, and in favor of sustaining and expanding public transportation in his run for Senate. He also claimed to be a gun rights advocate who supported the Constitution.
The Denver Post also reported that the accused cop killer was an opponent of the death penalty, quoting him as saying:
Interest in this question suggests fear towards addressing the root causes of violence in our society. Poverty is a form of violence that leads to malnutrition, homelessness, and hopelessness. The destruction of our sense of community, and treating people like disposable commodities opens the gate to deeply anti-social and violent thinking. This is itself the result of unconscionable thinking within the ranks of our political class.
There were clues to Wirth’s potential for violence; in a rambling Facebook post from January 22, Wirth complained about police and said in part:
The abuse, of course, doesn’t stop with extortion and beatings. Cops rape and kill people. Others are maimed for life. One cop repeatedly punched my face and knocked two of my teeth out after others piled on. This was after aiming loaded pistols while screaming threats at me. I may have provoked them with a finger or gave them the skunk eye. Then I turned my back to go home. They were about to open fire. It’s better to be shot in the back while unarmed because the coroner will usually record that as a homicide.
A Jefferson Country sheriff’s deputy came all the way into Park County and did that. None of the Park County cops made any effort to help a citizen of their own county being attacked by a homicidal psychopath from the neighboring county over six miles out of his jurisdiction. In fact, they drew their own pistols to assist my assailant. Maybe they needed to dust off the old shooting irons, or missed that special camaraderie you can only have when you threaten to shoot someone for attempting to purchase car insurance.
When people like me run for senate, you know it’s bad. But it’s much more entertaining when the cops are pulling out any excuse to kill you for it. My neighbor suggested that I head on over to the sheriff’s office to apply for a concealed carry permit. What do you all think?
In a YouTube video from a year ago, Wirth discussed illegal foreclosures and said that giving money to criminals was aiding and abetting a crime, which appeared to be his justification for not paying his mortgage or property taxes.
The video of Wirth is on a channel under the name Steven Bailey, another activist who has posted videos on topics like “racial bias and police accountability,” as well as a number of videos of birds. The header image of the page shows a number of people with signs reading “Eviction Free Zone” and one that reads “Occupy.”
Colorado’s News9 posted several tweets about the incident, including a tribute to the fallen law enforcement officer.
No risk to community at this point. Shooting killed Park Co Deputy this a.m., suspect killed after wounding 2 others pic.twitter.com/chwXAmisUL
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) February 24, 2016
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) February 25, 2016
Fallen deputy Cpl. Nate Carrigan had served with the Park County Sheriff’s office for 13 years and was a coach of the local high school team. In 2013, Carrigan was honored for his work capturing a burglar and kidnapper.
Master Patrol Deputy Kolby Martin remains in critical condition in the hospital. Capt. Mark Hancock was treated for injuries and released.
The Denver Post quoted one local in the close-knit community who knew Carrigan, holding back tears and talking about their respect for law enforcement officers, saying, “We are in a scary time.”