Second Degree Murder Charges for the Shooter at the Denver 'Patriot Muster' Rally Two Weekends Ago

Denver Police Department via AP

 

Matthew Dolloff, 30, the unlicensed security guard working with a news crew for 9NEWS, the Denver NBC affiliate covering a protest in downtown Denver on October 10, had bond set at $500,000 yesterday after he was formally charged with Second Degree Murder in the shooting death of Lee Keltner who was an attendee at the “Patriot Muster” rally.

Dolloff will have to post the bond before he can be released from the downtown Denver jail, where he has been since his arrest at the scene of the shooting near the Denver Art Museum.

Denver prosecutors on Monday formally filed the second-degree murder charge against Dolloff and a district court judge set the bond, the Denver District Court clerk’s office confirmed. Prosecutors announced on Thursday that they would file the charge, which carries a sentencing range of 16 to 48 years in prison.

Video and still photos captured the events leading up to a physical confrontation between Keltner and Dolloff, who had been watching from a short distance away while Keltner was engaged in a verbal confrontation with a counter-protester affiliated with Black Lives Matter.  The video shows that for reasons not entirely clear, Keltner turned his attention away from the BLM counter-protester and towards Dolloff and the 9News crew, who were filming the argument between Keltner and the counter-protester.  Audio captures someone — presumably Keltner — telling the news crew to stop filming.  As Keltner approached, Dolloff stepped between him and the 9News producer and pushed Keltner on the shoulder.  Keltner responded by hitting Dolloff across the face with an open-hand.   Keltner then took a couple steps backwards, while Dolloff reached under his shirt and pulled out a handgun.  Official court documents show Dolloff  fired one shot, striking Kelter in the head and killing him.

Some at the scene defended Dolloff’s actions — including the Denver Post photojournalist who captured most of the events in a series of “burst” photos as the confrontation unfolded — claiming that Dolloff only fired after being sprayed with some form of “mace” or pepper spray. But looking at the still photographs posted by the Post in sequence it is clear that Dolloff was already reaching for his weapon, and adopted a “shooter’s stance” before Keltner began to spray in his direction.  A more compelling argument can be made that Keltner only sprayed in response to what he saw as a threat to his life — Dolloff pulling out a deadly weapon.

Other video not yet released to the public — including surveillance cameras around the Museum — is known to exist and likely contradicts the Dolloff-friendly narrative.

There was a heavy police presence at the event, and Dolloff was taken into custody moments after the shooting and has been held for suspicion of first-degree murder since.

9NEWS originally claimed that Dolloff was security that it had contracted for through the security company Pinkerton. Pinkerton said it contracted with another company that employed Dolloff for the station, and that Dolloff is not employed by them. The City of Denver has a municipal ordinance requiring security guards to have specific training, and to obtain a license before being employed in that capacity in the City.  There is no record of Dolloff as a licensed security guard in the City and County of Denver.

Friends and family described Keltner, the shooting victim, as a “good guy.”  “He’s a Western guy, he followed the cowboy code,” Steve Weil said. “He was a man of integrity and was an honest person. I never talked politics with him, that never came up.”

Keltner was a veteran of the United States Navy, and owned an artisan western hat manufacturing business.