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Jul 102007

DENVER (AP) – An unidentified man armed with a gun was shot and killed outside Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s office in the state Capitol on Monday, Ritter’s spokesman said.

The governor was not injured, spokesman Evan Dreyer said. He said Ritter was in the Capitol at the time but he would not say where.

“The governor is fine,” he said. “Everybody is a bit rattled.”

Dreyer said the man refused orders to drop his gun and a member of Ritter’s security detail opened fire.

Four or five shots were heard, but authorities would not say how many times the security officer fired. Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said the man did not fire his weapon.

Before he was shot, the man said, “I am the emperor and I’m here to take over state government,” Dreyer said

The shooting occurred in a hallway outside the governor’s first floor offices.

The Capitol has no metal detectors. The devices were installed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks but were removed within months. They are usually put in place during the governor’s annual State of the State address in January but then are taken away again.

Jackson said investigators did not know the man’s name or his motive.

Jackson declined to discuss the gunman’s statement but said it was considered threatening.

State Rep. Edward Casso said he saw the gunman after the shooting and described him as being in his 30s or 40s, dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks.

Casso said a state patrolman told him to evacuate, and “I started to panic a little bit. I was just hoping that was the end of it.”

Casso, a first-term Democrat from Commerce City on Denver’s northeast edge, said the Capitol should have metal detectors.

“It’s kind of freaky someone could get that close,” he said.

Authorities roped off the area where the man was shot, and an ambulance and eight police cars converged on the building’s north entrance.

An hour after the shooting, state troopers and police _ some armed with automatic weapons _ ordered the Capitol evacuated and began a room-by-room search. They did not say whether the search was a precaution or whether they had reason to believe someone else was involved.

Pat Garriott said he was eating in the Capitol’s basement cafeteria when he heard shots.

“We heard a series of loud bangs, about four,” he said. “My partner and I looked up and saw a flash of smoke. We figured out it was probably gunshots.”

He said security agents rushed them into a basement office for safety and kept them there for about 20 minutes.

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