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Deputy, Suspected Car Thief Killed In Shootout

Deputy, Suspected Car Thief Killed In Shootout

Deputy Sam Brownlee | Ruben Reyes

The Denver Post via YellowBrix

November 24, 2010

EVANS, CO – The investigation into Tuesday’s high-speed police chase and fatal shootout will be exhaustive in the wake of the first death in the line of duty for a Weld County sheriff’s deputy in 70 years, authorities said.

Deputy Sam Brownlee, 43, was killed, as was suspected car thief Ruben Reyes, 20, of Fort Morgan.

The deadly confrontation between Reyes and three officers — Brownlee, another Weld County deputy and an Evans police officer — took place in an Evans neighborhood.

“We have 12 detectives working this today, and they’ll be working through the night,” Sgt. Joe Tymkowych, spokesman for the Greeley Police Department, said Tuesday. “We’re going to take this case from the beginning and investigate it all the way through.”

Greeley is in charge of the case because of the involvement of Weld County and Evans officers.

Brownlee died instantly. Reyes died about five hours later at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.

Reyes was on probation after agreeing last year to plead guilty to felony menacing in Morgan County. Also, records show that he had been sentenced to 90 days in jail after originally facing assault causing serious bodily injury and other charges that were dismissed.

While free on bail, he was arrested in May 2009 and charged with driving with a suspended license. He was charged with the same offense in Fort Morgan last month. Also, Reyes had several traffic offenses on his record, including drunken driving.

Brownlee, of Greeley, was a five-year veteran of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, the Greeley Tribune reported.

“He was one of the nicest, most respected guys I know,” Weld County Sheriff John Cooke told the newspaper. “A great deputy, and this is such a tragic loss.”

The incident began in Fort Morgan at 9:45 a.m., when a woman reported that a man she knows had stolen her car.

A Morgan County deputy and a Wiggins police officer spotted the car a short time later on U.S. 34 near Morgan County Road 4.

A Weld County deputy joined the chase when it crossed the county line. The chase wound through Greeley and ended in Evans.

“Stop sticks” put down by the Colorado State Patrol had punctured the tires of the car Reyes was driving, bringing the chase to a close in the Cave Creek neighborhood, where two Weld County deputies and an Evans police officer ordered the suspect out of the car, Tymkowych said.

“There was a confrontation,” he said. “Shots were fired.”

He did not know how many shots were fired by either Reyes or the officers.

Christina Goss told the Tribune she heard a gunshot and saw Brownlee fall.

Another officer then covered the injured colleague with his body while others returned fire until the suspect was down.

Sheila White had been hanging holiday lights on her home when she saw a black car with a flat tire race up her street with police and sheriff cruisers in pursuit.

She said officers blocked in the car that Reyes was driving and got out with weapons drawn, yelling at the suspect to get out.

White took her dog inside her home. While inside, she heard several gunshots.

When she stepped back outside, she saw officers doing CPR on the deputy now identified as Brownlee. She could not see the suspect.

White said that before she went back inside her house, a gray pickup truck drove up and two women in their late 20s to early 30s jumped out screaming, “No! No! No!”

Police ushered the women back to the truck. White said one of them sat sobbing inside the vehicle. “My heart is breaking for his family,” White said of the deputy.

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