Will Grandbois
wgrandbois@postindependent.com

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June 25, 2014
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Autopsy: Canyon gunman shot 11 times by trooper

Thomas Ornelas was shot 11 times after opening fire on a Colorado State Patrol trooper on May 8 in Glenwood Canyon, his autopsy report shows.

Trooper Shane Gosnell fired a total of 14 shots at Ornelas in what has been ruled a justified defense of himself and fellow Trooper Eugene Hofacker, who was shot three times by Ornelas.

According the Garfield County coroner’s report, Gosnell’s first shot passed through Ornelas’s left wrist before striking him in the chest, where it grazed his left lung and pierced his diaphragm and spleen. Ornelas sustained six more shots in the chest and abdomen before a bullet passed through his heart and lungs.

“This gunshot wound was not instantly incapacitating, but was rapidly fatal,” read the report.

Gosnell fired at least three more shots, hitting Ornelas in the abdomen, hip and groin. The forensic pathologist found no evidence that any of the gunshot wounds occurred at close range.

Ornelas, 40, was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:45 a.m.

Hofacker was treated at Valley View Hospital and released in mid-May.

The autopsy also found evidence of past cocaine use by Ornelas, a blood alcohol level of .186 percent, and indications of steatohepatitis, a type of liver failure associated with alcoholism.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said last week that investigators found 4.7 ounces of a substance thought to be cocaine in Ornelas’ car. The vehicle was pulled over on westbound Interstate 70, which prompted the troopers to stop. Ornelas opened fire after Hofacker approached his car.

Ornelas had a long criminal history, including a second-degree murder conviction as a teenager. At the time of his death, he was out of jail on was out of jail on $75,000 bond awaiting trial on charges of attempted second-degree attempted murder, attempted first-degree assault, criminal mischief, illegal discharge of a firearm and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. The court later added to the official charges.

The Post Independent will have further new details of the incident in Thursday’s print edition and on postindependent.com.


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The Post Independent Updated Jun 25, 2014 04:09PM Published Jun 25, 2014 10:39PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.