Gunman Shot Dead in Colorado Capitol

DENVER -- Saying it was "the day of the emperor's reign," a man with a gun and knife in his pockets went into a suburban shop and rented a tuxedo. A clerk considered his behavior odd enough to warrant a call to police.

About three hours later, a man in a dark suit some described as a tuxedo appeared outside the offices of Gov. Bill Ritter. He refused to drop a handgun, and was shot and killed by a patrolman on the governor's security detail.

The man said before he was shot, "I am the emperor and I'm here to take over state government," said Evan Dreyer, the governor's spokesman.

No one besides the gunman was injured.

Police in the Denver suburb of Northglenn said the man who rented a tuxedo may have been the man killed at the governor's Capitol office. They also said in a statement that family members and an employer told investigators the man at the store was possibly delusional.

Officers with the Denver police department conducted a search late Monday at a home of a couple believed to be the suspect's parents. Investigators said they knew the man's name but did not release it.

The man had walked into the reception area of Ritter's office and was being escorted out before he produced a gun and refused orders to put it down, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said. Four or five shots were heard, but authorities would not say how many times the patrolman fired.

The man did not fire his weapon, Jackson said, declining to say if it was loaded.

The shooting occurred at about 2 p.m. in a hall outside the governor's offices on the first floor of the Capitol.

Ritter said he was in the office with 10 or 11 other people and heard shots, but he would not say how close he was to the gunman. He said some of his staff members witnessed the shooting.

Tobie Locke, a bridal manager at the Mister Neat's shop in Northglenn, said a man came in around 10 a.m. asking to rent a tuxedo and said, when asked about the occasion, "Today's the day of the emperor's reign."

After renting the tux, the man did not say where he was going.

"He was very nervous and sweating a lot and breathing very heavy," Locke said. "I had the impression he was going to hurt somebody."

Authorities said there had been no specific threats against the governor before Monday's shooting, which reinvigorated a debate about metal detectors at the Capitol.

Metal detectors were installed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but were removed the following July after lawmakers objected to making it more difficult for the public to visit.

They are usually installed temporarily during the governor's annual State of the State address in January.

Ritter said Capitol security would be temporarily stepped up while lawmakers and others discuss any permanent changes. Starting Tuesday, all visitors will be required to enter through a single entrance and pass through a metal detector, he said. It wasn't clear how long that requirement would be in place.

"We live in a country where there is just that constant tension about security versus openness," he said.

"We have always said this building is the people's building and the place where we conduct business, and it's the people's business. There are going to be discussions going forward about how we achieve that right balance between security and keeping it open," Ritter said.

The Democratic governor said he was pleased with the level of security he is provided.

State Rep. Edward Casso said he saw the gunman after the shooting and described him as being in his 30s or 40s, dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks.

Casso said a state patrolman told him to evacuate, adding, "I started to panic a little bit. I was just hoping that was the end of it."

The first-term Democrat said the Capitol should have metal detectors.

"It's kind of freaky someone could get that close," Casso said.

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Associated Press writer Don Mitchell and AP photographer David Zalubowski contributed to this report.


Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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