Cops fatally shoot Vietnam war hero defending his family from an intruder who attacked his 11-year-old grandson
73-year-old war veteran Richard 'Gary' Black had received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his bravery in Vietnam
Officers responding to a breaking and entering (B&E) call mistakenly shot and killed a Vietnam war veteran after he gunned down the intruder that was threatening his family. At about 1.30 am on Monday, law enforcement received several reports of an ongoing burglary at a suburban Denver home and rushed to the address. As soon as they burst into the residence, they shot and killed 73-year-old Richard 'Gary' Black after mistaking him for the intruder.
The war veteran was armed and had just fatally shot the burglar moments before the officers arrived. The intruder had injured a young girl, which set Black off.
After shooting Black, authorities searched the house and found the body of the real criminal in the bathroom. He is yet to be identified.
Those who knew Black described him as a retired family man, a long-time resident, and a grandfather who was often spotted tending to his front garden. The cop who shot him has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
"This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved," Police Chief Nick Metz said. "We are providing assistance through our victim advocates to help the family of the deceased resident through this very difficult time."
The police shooting of the decorated war hero has devastated friends, close relatives and well-wishers alike.
For Black's half-sister, Elisa Black-Taylor, her brother died saving his family. "I've chatted with his daughter and she says he saved his family when an intruder broke into his home," she explained.
"He will be remembered as a hero, both for his service to his country as well as to the family who loved him."
On the other hand, neighbors were considerably infuriated over the reckless incident.
Brad Maestas has known the family for 34 years. In a conversation with the Denver Post, he said, "It's sad and screwed up. He was a family man — a grandpa that was protecting his family. It's messed up."
The veteran was immediately rushed to a hospital after the shooting incident, but died soon after. That said, the intruder caused some serious but non-life-threatening injuries to a child.
Black had received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his bravery in the Vietnam war. He grew up in Anderson, South Carolina, and graduated from The Citadel.
After that, from 1999 to 2008, he held a license as a certified public accountant in Colorado, according to state records.
His father was also a part of the military, who fought during World War II at the Battle of the Bulge. He was a Staff Sergeant.
"He was a wonderful family man who loved spending time with his grandchildren and caring for his garden," added his half-sister.
It is yet to be revealed by the Aurora law enforcement whether Black was inside the home or outside at the time of his shooting. Currently, both the Aurora Police Major Crimes Unit and Denver Police Department are conducting a thorough investigation into the incident.
Also, it is yet to be determined whether the officer who shot Black should face criminal charges, according to a statement released by the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office.