DENVER — A 24-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder after the Denver Police Department said he fired multiple shots at a suspect he claimed was trying to steal his car under the cover of darkness early Friday morning.
That suspect is now considered the victim after he was found dead inside of a vehicle in Aurora that afternoon. He was identified Monday afternoon as 26-year-old Guillermo Medrano-Sandoval. According to the arrest affidavit in the case, Medrano-Sandoval died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Brice Fitch is accused of firing that shot following a confrontation that occurred at around 4 a.m. Friday in the 300 block of South Jasmine Street in Denver. According to the affidavit, Fitch told police he “heard rustling” when he was letting his dogs outside, and noticed the door to his vehicle was open and the lights were on.
This led Fitch to confront the suspects he said were breaking into his vehicle, and to yell “hey, get out of my car,” the affidavit says.
Fitch told police he went back inside to get his AR-15 and told another person who was home to call police. The affidavit says he then walked toward the suspect’s vehicle and that he could see a man and woman trying to get inside.
“The victim observed the driver reached for the console area and drive off, [swerving] in the direction of him, and the gun went off,” the affidavit reads.
Fitch told police that the gun went off when he fell, and that he had his hand on the trigger, pulling it by accident. He said the driver’s side door of the vehicle – which was still open – “went over him.”
The suspect’s vehicle, according to the affidavit, then stopped in the middle of the block, and Fitch said he shot at the back of it twice, hitting it in the rear.
“The victim stated that he had his weapon in low ready first, and then the ready position when the driver reached toward the middle console area,” the affidavit reads. “The victim stated that he shot two more times because he feared they were coming back to cause him harm.”
The suspect vehicle, which was described as a black newer model Dodge Charger, was last seen headed northbound on Jasmine, according to the affidavit.
After talking to police, Fitch was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
According to the affidavit, police found three cartridge casings from an AR-15 at the crime scene, as well as pieces of broken glass.
At around 1 p.m. Friday, the Aurora Police Department found a body inside of a vehicle parked five miles away in the 12600 block of East Exposition Avenue. The car matched the description of the Charger involved in the Denver incident, and the rear window had been shot out, according to the affidavit.
This led police to once again contact Fitch, he asked for an attorney, according to an affidavit.
Denver Police Department spokesperson Sonny Jackson said investigators are looking for a woman in wake of the incident to discuss what transpired. Jackson could not say if the Charger belonged to the man who died following the confrontation.
According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records, this is Fitch’s first arrest in Colorado. He is being held in the Downtown Detention Center without bond, and will continue to be following his court date on Monday afternoon, when a judge agreed with the assertion from prosecutors there is probable cause to believe he acted with intent and deliberation in firing his weapon.
Fitch's public defenders challenged the first-degree murder charge, arguing that he accidentally fired his weapon.
9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson said Colorado law does not permit the use of deadly force to protect property.
"It doesn’t matter if it’s your stereo, your car – you can’t kill someone to prevent them from stealing something that belongs to you,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the only situations where deadly force is permissible under Colorado law are in self-defense or defense of another, as well as the Make My Day Law.
This, however, is limited to inside of someone's home.
“If someone is stealing your car, call the police," Robinson said. "You have no other lawful options.”
SUGGESTED VIDEOS | Local stories from 9NEWS