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Alleged home invader shot to death, raising gun issues in Colorado

April 03, 2013|By Michael Muskal

President Obama was in Colorado on Wednesday, hoping to use the recent enactment of gun-control legislation there as a way to spur support for his own package of proposals.

But a politically purple state such as Colorado can also offer ammunition for those fighting controls -- including a recent attack that led to the death of a man accused of breaking into the home of a deputy district attorney and her husband, a deputy sheriff.

For some, the shooting earlier this week plays into an argument made in December by National Rifle Assn. executive vice president Wayne LaPierre: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Under Gov. John Hickenlooper and other top state Democrats, Colorado recently enacted three gun-control measures, including limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and expanding background checks -- both planks in the Obama administration’s gun-control package.

Because it is a Western state coming out of a gun-toting tradition, Colorado's actions in the wake of massacres in a movie theater in suburban Aurora, Colo., and in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., will stand out for the nation, gun control activists are hoping.

Colorado has also been reeling from the slaying of its prison chief, allegedly by a parolee who slipped his ankle bracelet. Tom Clements was killed answering the door of his home near the community of Monument, about 45 miles from Denver, on March 19.

The 28-year-old suspect in that slaying, Evan Spencer Ebel, died days later after a gun battle with Texas authorities. Ebel is also a suspect in the shooting death of a Colorado pizza delivery man.

The case involving Ebel, reportedly a member of a white supremacist prison gang in Colorado, also raised concerns in Texas, where a prosecutor was killed in January and his district attorney boss and wife were slain in recent days.

Officials are still investigating the slayings in Kaufman County, Texas, and have several theories, including that another Aryan prison gang may be involved. Other scenarios involve a disgruntled former local official who was snared in a corruption probe by the same prosecutors.

It was against that backdrop that Colorado officials said an intruder forced his way into the home of the deputy district attorney Monday and was shot to death by either the prosecutor or her husband, a deputy sheriff.

The incident took place shortly before midnight in Hot Sulphur Springs, about 100 miles from Denver, authorities said.

In an email to the Los Angeles Times, Colorado Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Susan Medina identified the dead man as Joshua Lee Stevens, 32. Stevens is from Coral Springs, Mich., and Colorado investigators believe that he had come to Hot Sulphur Springs to look for work and had been there for about a week, she said.

Few details of the incident have been revealed so far. Officials have not said who shot Stevens, nor how many bullets were fired.

Authorities handling the case have said, however, that there was a report of a man behaving erratically outside the house, according to a statement from the CBI, which is the lead investigative agency in the case.

The intruder then pushed his way into the house, and an altercation ensued, the statement said.

Authorities do not believe there is any connection between the shooting in Hot Sulphur Springs and any of the other attacks on law enforcement personnel in Colorado or Texas: "There appear to be no ties to recent shootings, but law enforcement will continue to investigate," Medina said.


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