A gunman killed six people inside a family birthday party at a mobile home in Colorado Springs before turning the gun on himself, police say, in what appears to be the fourth deadliest mass shooting in state history.
The killings happened just after midnight Sunday at the Canterbury Mobile Home Park on Preakness Way, on the east side of the city, near the airport. Officers, dispatched on report of a shooting, arrived at a trailer to find six dead adults and a man with serious injuries. That man later died at the hospital, Colorado Springs police said in a Sunday news release.
The suspect, the boyfriend of a female victim, drove to a trailer where a birthday party was being held with friends, family and children. He walked inside and began shooting party attendees before taking his own life, police said, adding that the children present “are now with relatives.”
The incident was Colorado’s worst mass shooting since a gunman killed 10 people at a Boulder supermarket March 22. It was the worst shooting in the city’s recent history, according to city officials.
The party was intended to celebrate the birthdays of Nubia Marquez, 28, and her brother, Melvin Perez, who would have turned 31 this week, as well as their mother, Joana Cruz, who would have turned 54 this week, she said on Sunday.
“My mom had always liked celebrating them together,” said Nubia Marquez, who had attended the party with her husband, Freddy Marquez.
When they left her mother’s home around 10 p.m., “everybody was calm,” Freddy Marquez said. “Everybody was good.”
Also killed were Nubia Marquez’s other brother, Jose Guttierez, 21; Melvin Perez’s wife, Mayra Perez, 32; and Mayra’s sister Sandra Ibarra and brother Jose Ibarra, the couple said.
Freddy Marquez identified the suspected shooter as Sandra Ibarra’s boyfriend and described him as “quiet” and “serious,” and said that he always had a gun on him. He said he met him only once and “there was nothing out of the ordinary” about him. The couple was unaware of his name, saying only that he went by the nickname “Junior.”
Freddie Marquez described his mother-in-law, Joana Cruz, as “loving” and “hard working.”
“She was always laughing,” he said of the mother of four.
Her sons were “just like their mom,” he added. “They were all great people.”
For hours Sunday, Freddy and Nubia Marquez, along with several relatives, stood close together outside the crime tape, about 200 feet from where their loved ones were slain. Freddy Marquez wrapped his arm around his wife’s neck and she rested her head on his chest, blocking her view of crime lab investigators outside her mother’s home.
A woman who lives nearby in the mobile home park said she awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of what she believes were gunshots and eventually heard crying outside. Two young children were put in the back of a patrol car.
“And on Mothers Day,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named.
In a Sunday statement Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called the mass murder a “terrible act of violence,” occurring as “many of us are spending the day celebrating the women in our lives who have made us the people we are today.”
“Families torn apart, and at a birthday party, no less,” he said.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers called the shooting a “senseless act of violence” and asked for the public’s patience as the police department investigates.
“Today we find ourselves mourning the loss of lives and praying solemnly for those who were injured and those who lost family members,” Suthers said in a Sunday statement. “We think too of the emergency personnel who responded to a horrific scene and we keep them in our prayers today.”
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Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said officers and investigators who responded “are all left incredibly shaken.”
“This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home,” he said.
“My vow to this community and to the families who have lost someone today is that this department will do everything we can to find you the answers you deserve and be here for you with an unwavering support.”
The investigation is ongoing, with the department’s Violent Crimes Section leading it, police said.
Those with information about the murders who have not spoken with detectives are asked to call the Colorado Springs Police Department at (719) 444-7000, or the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (719) 634-STOP (7867) or 1-800-222-8477, if they wish to remain anonymous.
In 2015, a man shot three people to death at random before dying in a shootout with police in Colorado Springs on Halloween. Less than a month later, a man killed three people, including a police officer, and injured eight others in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.