Mar 212012
 
Authors: Allison Sytle

On Wednesday night, freshman biomedical sciences major Emily Burnier was just about to fall asleep when she heard a gunshot followed by a tire squeal outside of her dorm room in Ingersoll Hall.

“I bolted out of my bed and ran out of my room, and asked my friend if she had heard anything,” Burnier said. “… we were all kind of shocked, because we didn’t expect it to be right there, so close to us.”

The noise Burnier, as well many other Ingersoll residents, heard was a gunshot by a CSU police officer, who was attempting to stop a vehicle near the corner of Pitkin and Shields Streets.

The incident began at around 11:15 Wednesday night, according to a news release, when a Fort Collins police officer observed a 2008 Toyota Tacoma driving erratically and speeding on the 300 block of E. Mulberry Street.

The officer, identified by the university as CSUPD Officer Wil Nichols, attempted to make a traffic stop; however, the driver evaded the officer. Per Fort Collins police policy, a pursuit was not initiated, though a “Be On the Lookout” (BOLO) message was sent to all patrol officers, including the CSU Police Department.

Nichols has nine years of law enforcement experience, including five years with CSUPD, according to CSU spokesman Mike Hooker. He’s also a patrol training officer with CSUPD.

The vehicle was observed by several CSU police officers at around 11:35 p.m. near the corner of Pitkin and Shields Streets. When a uniformed CSUPD officer, who had exited his squad car, attempted to prevent the suspect from driving away, the vehicle jumped a nearby curb and sped toward the officer, ultimately striking him with the right side of the vehicle.

Upon impact, the officer fell backwards, sustaining minor injuries, and discharged his handgun. The suspect fled the scene, and his vehicle was located by a Larimer County sheriff K-9 deputy in the area of Neil Drive and Stuart Street.

Witnesses report the suspect had been spotted running through the lawns of nearby homes.

The suspect, 34-year-old Felix Keil, was taken into custody at 1:13 a.m. and has been accused of 1st-degree assault on a police officer, menacing, vehicular eluding, reckless driving and disobedience to traffic control device charges. There was no prior warrant for Keil’s arrest.

An investigation into the incident began Wednesday evening, with Shields Street between Prospect Road and Elizabeth Street closed for traffic coming in both directions.

According to CSUPD Police Chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt, a simultaneous internal investigation is being conducted by CSUPD. As of a 2:15 p.m. press conference on Thursday, Rich-Goldschmidt could not comment on whether or not any CSUPD policies had been violated by the officer involved.

There is no timeline on the release of the investigation’s results.

“This is very unusual,” Rick-Goldschmidt said. “In my three years of being here, I haven’t heard of anything like this happening.”

The officer is currently on paid administrative leave and is recovering from his injuries. His name will be released along with the investigation’s results.

It’s currently unknown how many shots were fired in total, or whether or not those shots were intentional.

For students at Ingersoll Hall, who just weeks ago had been evacuated due to a small fire, the incident was a nerve-wracking addition to an otherwise peaceful Wednesday night.

“There were crowds of students gathered by the windows, and some tried to go outside,” said Chelsea Lord, an undeclared freshman and Ingersoll resident.

While a text alert was sent out to CSU students in regard to road closures, there was no notification regarding the incident itself, something that Hooker said is evaluated on a “case-by-case basis.”

Some students in Ingersoll said they didn’t even know the incident had occurred.

“It was a grey area as to whether or not there needed to be [notification for students] because of all the specific circumstances to this particular incident,” Hooker said, adding that since the suspect had abruptly left the scene, university officials deemed the incident more or less over before students could be notified about it.

However, this did not stop students from watching the scene intently from their windows and from Ingersoll’s lawn on Wednesday night.

“We’d just had the fire, and then a couple of weeks later, we hear gunshots…” said Meghan Helms, a freshman biology major. “It was incredibly nerve-wracking.”

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:03 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.