Man who fatally shot Navy vet police supporter not a licensed security guard in Denver


Elise Schmelzer

The Denver Post

Lee Keltner became at least the fourth person shot during protests in Colorado so far this year when he was killed Saturday after a conflict with a private security guard in downtown Denver.

Family members identified Keltner, 49, as the man fatally shot during dueling protests Saturday in downtown Denver. Police on Sunday identified a 30-year-old man as the suspect and confirmed he was working as a private security guard at the time and not participating in the protest.

But city officials don’t believe shooting suspect Matthew Robert Dolloff was licensed to work as an armed private security guard in Denver.

Dolloff remained in jail Sunday without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder in the shooting, jail records show.

He was working as a contracted security guard for Denver television station 9News when the shooting occurred, the television station has said.

sequence of photos of the incident captured by a Denver Post photographer appears to show Keltner slapping Dolloff in the face before the two back away from each other. The next image shows Dolloff shooting at Keltner — a shell casing is seen being ejected from his handgun — as Keltner fires a cloud of pepper spray at Dolloff.

Police detained Dolloff and a 9News employee at the scene, but released the station employee after he gave a statement.

The man who died has not been named publicly by officials, but his son identified him as Lee Keltner in an interview with The Post on Sunday.

Keltner, 49, was a Navy veteran who ran a hat-making business in the Denver area for many years, his son, Johnathon Keltner, said.

“He wasn’t a part of any group,” Johnathon Keltner said. “He was there to rally for the police department and he’d been down there before rallying for the police department.”

Carol Keltner, who said she lives in Arkansas and identified herself as Lee Keltner’s mother, posted a message on the Northeast Arkansas Tea Party Group on Facebook announcing his death at the Denver rally. “He was murdered because he backed the police,” she wrote.

At least three others have been shot during protests in Colorado this year. Two were injured in a shooting during a protest in Aurora and another man was shot in the head during a protest in Alamosa.

A Facebook page with Dolloff’s full name and a photo that appears to match his jail booking photo shows that he worked on a ranch on the Eastern Plains where he raised sheep and dogs. Court records show Dolloff had no previous criminal history beyond traffic incidents.

Pinkerton, the security company 9News said it contracted with for the protest, did not reply to questions from The Post sent Sunday morning.

While Pinkerton had an active license to employ security guards in Denver, officials have no record that Dolloff had the required city license to work as a private security guard, said Eric Escudero, spokesman for the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.

“We do not currently have an active license and have never had an active license for anybody with that name,” he said. “If he was operating as a security guard, he was in violation of the law.”

The cities of Denver, Colorado Springs and Glendale require private security guards to obtain city-issued licenses, though there are no statewide license requirements. Denver’s licensing process requires guards to complete 16 hours of training by an “eligible training provider” before working in the city. Further training is required before a guard can carry a firearm during work or dress in plainclothes.

Someone working as private security without the required license can face up to a $999 fine and a year in jail, Escudero said. If a registered security company employs guards who are not licensed, the company can also face fines and the suspension or revocation of their license.

job listing by Pinkerton for a part-time security job in Denver states applicants must have a high school diploma, a concealed carry license and a merchant guard license, which is offered by the city.

The investigation into Dolloff’s and Pinkerton’s licensing is ongoing, Escudero said.

The shooting took place as two opposing groups demonstrated in Civic Center on Saturday. Dozens of people gathered for a “Patriot Rally,” which was protested by dozens of people who attended an event called a “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive.” The two groups yelled at each other prior to the shooting, but police kept them separated.

John “Tig” Tiegen — an El Paso County resident, conservative public speaker and one of the organizers of the Patriot Rally event — posted a statement on Sunday offering condolences to the family of the victim.

“It’s tragic that Americans find themselves in danger just by coming together and showing support for their country,” he wrote on Instagram.

Rumors spread across the internet after the shooting about Dolloff’s potential political affiliation, in part because of a reporting error by The Post that was corrected. While Dolloff’s social media does criticize President Donald Trump and includes photos of the 2012 Occupy Denver protests, he does not claim affiliation with any organization. Denver police on Saturday announced the shooting suspect had “no affiliation with Antifa.”

“Immediately following the incident, rumors were circulating regarding the suspect’s affiliation with a particular group,” Denver police said in a statement Sunday. “Investigators are unaware of whether the suspect is personally affiliated with any political organization.”

———

©2020 The Denver Post

Visit The Denver Post at www.denverpost.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.