‘Patriot Muster’ protester appears to slap TV crew’s private security guard and fires a cloud of mace before the Pinkerton employee shot him dead during dueling rallies in Denver
- Stunning images captured the fatal shooting of an alleged ‘Patriot Muster’ protester on Saturday in Denver
- The protester was seen striking a private security guard hired by 9News outside the Denver Art Museum
- He then deployed a stream of mace at the guard, who responded by lifting his handgun and opening fire
- Witnesses said the two men, who were not named, had engaged in a verbal altercation prior to the shooting
- The protester was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead
- Video showed the guard surrendering to riot police who swarmed him seconds after gunfire rang out
- Police said the shooter had no affiliation with a group of Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists who turned out to protest a Patriot Muster rally
- 9News confirmed that the security guard was a Pinkerton contractor working to protect their TV crew
- The guard was arrested on suspicion of murder along with a 9News reporter who was later deemed unconnected to the killing
- It’s unclear if the protester was armed but police said they recovered two guns from the scene
A stunning series of images captured the moment a private security guard working for a television crew shot and killed a man believed to be part of a right-wing ‘Patriot Muster’ rally outside the Denver Art Museum.
The security guard, who was hired by 9News and has not been named, was arrested on suspicion of murder on Saturday evening after he opened fire on the unidentified Patriot Muster protester who deployed mace at him during the rally.
In images snapped by a Denver Post photographer, the protester appeared to slap the security guard and then deployed a stream of mace into his face before the guard lifted his handgun and fired, sending the protester staggering backward.
Witnesses said the two men, both white, had engaged in a heated verbal altercation prior to the shooting. The protester was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Video showed police swarming the security guard seconds after he opened fire. The guard surrendered immediately, dropping to his knees and placing his weapon on the ground.
The Denver Police Department (DPD) said the shooter had no affiliation with a group of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters who had turned out at the art museum to face off with the Patriot Muster crowd.
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A stunning series of images captured the moment a private security guard working for a television crew shot and killed a man believed to be part of a right-wing Patriot Muster rally outside the Denver Art Museum. In the image above, the alleged Patriot Muster protester appears to slap the security guard while holding a can of mace in his hand
A second image showed the Patriot Muster protester deploying mace at the security guard, who lifted his handgun. The security guard was contracted by local TV station News9 through Pinkerton, a private detective and security agency
The Patriot Muster protester staggers backward after the security guard apparently fired his weapon. Neither the protester nor the security guard have been identified by Denver Police as of Sunday morning
The security guard turned and looked toward the camera after fatally shooting the protester who maced him at 3.37pm on Saturday afternoon outside the Denver Art Museum
The security guard immediately laid down his weapon and appeared to tell a 9News reporter he was with to back away as riot police rushed toward him
The security guard fell to his knees and immediately surrendered after fatally shooting the man who maced him
9News confirmed that it had hired the guard through the private Pinkerton detective agency to watch over its reporters during Saturday’s dueling protests between Patriot Muster and a ‘BLM-Antifa Soup Drive’.
‘A 9NEWS employee and a 9NEWS contractor were taken into custody,’ the station reported, adding that the contractor was deemed to be not involved in the shooting.
‘The private security guard was contracted through Pinkerton by 9NEWS. It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests.’
Police had deployed in large numbers for Saturday’s rival rallies. When gunfire rang out at 3.37pm local time more than a dozen officers rushed to the scene to detain the shooter.
The security guard still had his handgun in his grasp when riot police swarmed him with guns pointed. He was filmed falling to his knees as he dropped his weapon and raised his arms above his head.
He was arrested, along with the second 9News affiliate who was later cleared of involvement in the shooting.
The victim was reportedly shot at point-blank range and was taken to a hospital where he later died, Joe Montoya, chief of DPD’s investigations division, said at a news conference on Saturday evening.
‘There was a verbal altercation that transpired at the area of the shooting,’ Montoya said. He declined to connect the gunman and the victim with the protests until the police finished their investigation.
Two guns were recovered at the scene, Montoya said.
The DPD confirmed on Twitter that the shooting was being investigated as a homicide.
The victim was seen wearing a shirt that said ‘BLM’ followed by an obscene phrase that appeared to mock the Black Lives Matter movement. The shirt was partially obscured by his sleeveless military vest.
This is the moment the alleged gunman is arrested moments after he reportedly shot dead a Patriot Muster member who maced him in the face. A gun can clearly be seen to the right of the protester
Police detained the gunmen and several other people following the shooting in Denver on Saturday afternoon
The victim, believed to be attending a Patriot Muster rally, was shot and killed following an argument with a security guard
Paramedics took the victim to hospital where on Saturday afternoon he was declared dead
Both the victim and the gunman were white men, Chief Montoya said. They were not publicly identified by the authorities.
Richard Johnson, who witnessed the shooting, told CBS4 he saw nothing leading up to it that was out of the ordinary.
‘I’m wondering what possible explanation there could be,’ he said.
‘There didn’t seem to be any altercation, there wasn’t any yelling coming from that way, the victim didn’t seem to be advancing on him in a menacing way.
‘He is a large man. But I suspect when this all shakes out it may be something other than what we might think at first.’
Rival rallies had been called for Saturday afternoon by the two opposing groups.
The victim (pictured on the ground after being shot) died shortly after he was shot at the Patriot Muster
Officers rushed to the scene of the shooting, near the Civic Center, and formed a cordon around the dead man until ambulances arrived
Denver has seen a series of tense protests and counter protests this summer.
A masked protester burnt the Back the Blue flag
On July 20 a ‘Back the Blue’ rally organized by local media personality John Tiegen, an ex-Marine and Blackwater private security guard, descended into chaos as Tiegen’s sympathizers were met by left-wing counterprotesters.
On Saturday, as with the previous weekend, the right-leaning protesters were inside the amphitheater area while the left-leaning protesters were outside.
One member of the BLM-Antifa crowd burnt the blue-colored Stars and Stripes flag used by pro-police groups, pouring lighter fluid over it and setting it ablaze at the feet of the DPD officers.
Large numbers of officers attempted to keep the two sides apart.
Police were not letting anyone else into amphitheater area, but by 3.30pm, the Denver Post reported, the barrier appeared to be coming down.
Police fired what appeared to be pepper balls into the crowd, after people from the leftist group started rattling the barrier headed into the amphitheater.
Tiegen had summoned his followers to a 2pm ‘Patriot Muster’ in the Civic Center park with the slogan: ‘Stand up, show up.’
The slogan bore similarities to Donald Trump’s response when asked to condemn white supremacists and the Proud Boys. Instead of disavowing them he said: ‘Stand back and stand by.’
‘Join myself and hundreds of fellow Patriot Americans for a Muster at Civic Center Park 2pm sharp,’ he wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t let the communists, socialist party and groups intimidate or Oppress you any longer! Come join us and be heard & seen and celebrate OUR freedoms.’
BLM-Antifa organized their own rally in the same spot, at 1.30pm – telling their supporters: ‘Counter protest the fascist rally nearby!’
Chelsea Jacobs, a member of the Denver Communists, said that Saturday’s event, which the group called a Black Lives Matter-Antifa soup drive, had been organized in response to the Patriot Muster.
The ‘soup rally’ was meant to be ironic in response to comments that far-left protesters throw soup cans, she said.
The protester stood in front of the police as the flag went up in flames
The moment of fire: Smoke erupts (in the top right corner) after the gunshot rang out at the protest
A large numbers of officers, in the area to try and keep the two sides apart, then rushed to the scene
Tiegen, the Patriot Muster organizer, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police.
Police expected there to be trouble. In previous weeks they have asked organizers to cancel or postpone their rallies, to try and tone down tension.
Ahead of Saturday’s rallies, they issued a statement saying the department ‘respects the right to peacefully assemble’.
John Tiegen, organizer of the ‘Patriot Muster’ group, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police
They continued: ‘Those who participate in protests, demonstrations, marches, or other gatherings, as protected by the First Amendment, are reminded to do so in a lawful manner.
‘Individuals who choose to act outside of local, state and federal law, will be subject to citation or arrest.’
Tiegen is the author of the book 13 Hours, detailing the botched Benghazi raid, which was turned into a film.
Tiegen spent four years in the Marines and then several years as a security contractor with Blackwater Security on missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, he says on his website.
Tiegen then worked for the CIA on their Global Response Staff, deployed to 40 countries around the world.
He was in Libya in September 2011 when the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked, and four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed.
He received the Award for Heroism and Valor for his bravery that night.
Back in his native Colorado, Tiegen has carved out a career for himself as a motivational speaker.
He regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his views.
On Saturday he said his Facebook page had been taken down.
Tiegen promoted the Patriot Muster gathering with the words: ‘Stand up. Show up’
John Tiegen (left) is pictured at the Republican National Convention in 2016 discussing the 2011 Benghazi attack
From left: Mark Geist, Kris Paronto, John Tiegen and actor Dominic Fumusa arrive for a special screening of 13 Hours in 2016