BRIGHTON, Colo. — Two men who were nearby when a Colorado sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed were interviewed and released, authorities said Friday before a suspect in the slaying made his first court appearance.
Adams County Judge Patrick Murphy gave prosecutors until Wednesday to file charges against 22-year-old Dreion Martise Dearing, who was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder of a peace officer and second-degree burglary.
Dearing’s hands were cuffed in front of him Friday and a chain was wrapped around his waist during his initial court appearance after the killing of 31-year-old Deputy Heath Gumm. .
Several people sitting in seats closest to Dearing cried when he walked into the courtroom. They declined comment after the hearing. Dearing’s attorney Sarah Quinn also declined comment.
Murphy thanked people in the nearly full courtroom for listening quietly during the brief hearing.
“I understand how high emotions are,” the judge said.
Murphy barred television news crews from filming Dearing’s face and sealed an arrest affidavit, saying it could compromise the sheriff’s investigation.
Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh said Friday that no other suspects were being sought in the killing of Gumm. McIntosh said officers spoke Thursday to the two men who were nearby during the attack but he didn’t release details about those conversations.
Neither man was taken into custody.
McIntosh said police responded Wednesday to a report of several people arriving at an address in the residential area about 8 miles (13 kilometers) north of downtown Denver and starting a fight. He said authorities believe Dearing was among them and ran behind a house when deputies arrived.
When they caught up with him, he pulled a handgun and opened fire, striking Gumm in the chest before fleeing, the sheriff’s office said.
Adams County District Attorney Dave Young would not comment Friday on whether his office would seek the death penalty against Dearing. Young said it’s too early in the investigation to discuss potential penalties.
Gumm was married and had worked for the sheriff’s office since 2012. A date for his funeral has not been set.
His death came less than a month after 29-year-old Douglas County sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish was fatally shot and four other officers were wounded in suburban Denver by a man with a history of mental health problems.
McIntosh said his staff also is reeling from the recent deaths of three sheriff’s office retirees.
“The Adams County Sheriff’s Office right now is grieving,” he said. “We are hurting.”