Colorado officer and father of 3 shot in the face in line of duty out of ICU

Scene in Fort Lupton, Colorado following the shooting on Dec. 3, 2019. (Photo: CBS Denver). Photo of Sgt. Christopher Pelton from the City of Lupton website.
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FORT LUPTON, Colo. (KKTV) - A Colorado police officer has made enormous strides in his recovery since being shot in the line of duty one week ago.

The latest update as of Monday is that Pelton is out of the ICU and has begun mobility therapy.

Sgt. Christopher Pelton with the Fort Lupton Police Department was among several officers responding to reports of an armed teen trying to get into his ex-girlfriend's home. The teen opened fire on officers, hitting Pelton at least once. Investigators say police returned fire and shot the suspect. Pelton and the suspect were both airlifted from the scene in critical condition.

The 19th Judicial Critical Incident Response Team provided an update on Pelton two days later, stating he remained in critical condition after being shot in the face.

Before his discharge from the ICU, family and friends said Pelton has made amazing progress, including walking and talking. They added that he will undergo jaw surgery Monday, and while loved ones say the family still has a long road ahead, they are hopeful with the direction he is moving.

"Chris is doing good. He is stable, able to converse, & even be ornery. He will have surgery tomorrow on his jaw. Please continue to keep the family in your thoughts & prayers as they still have some difficult days ahead. Kelly wants to express how grateful she is for the outpouring of such kind words, support, donations, & even shoulders to lean on. Thank you everyone who has touched their lives," the creator of a GoFundMe in support of Pelton wrote over the weekend.

Click here for a GoFundMe verified by 11 News to benefit Sgt. Christopher Pelton and his family.

The suspect, identified as 19-year-old Matthew Cotter, also remains in the hospital.

According to arrest papers obtained by 11 News sister station CBS Denver, the incident began when Cotter allegedly showed up at his ex-girlfriend's home on Ponderosa Place. The girl's mother called police at 8:45 p.m. and said Cotter was threatening to harm her daughter, then kill himself.

When police got to the address at Ponderosa Place, they were unable to locate Cotter. About two hours later, police received another call from the girl's father, who said Cotter parked outside the house, turned his vehicle's lights off, and sent a text to his ex that read, 'It's too late.'"

That phone call was quickly followed by a call from the ex-girlfriend, who told police Cotter was armed and at her front door.

Police went to the address at Ponderosa Place a second time. They again couldn't find Cotter, but according to the arrest affidavit, Cotter was watching them from his hiding place.

Moments later, shots were fired.

The arrest papers state the defendant waived his rights and spoke with a detective about the shooting. Cotter admitted to police he was trying to see his ex and he did have suicidal thoughts. Investigators say they learned from Cotter's ex that Cotter had been making suicidal statements for months. He allegedly claimed that on the night of the shooting, he loaded a round into his gun after he heard police coming and then hid behind a fence along Ponderosa Place. Cotter also claimed he "lost consciousnesses at various times," according to arrest papers. Cotter allegedly admitted shooting at least three rounds from his handgun at an officer. He said, "I shot, he dropped; they shot, I dropped." Cotter said he "caught the officer off guard."

Cotter is facing charges including attempted first-degree murder.

The creator of the GoFundMe provided the following statement:
"Chris is the father to three amazing children and the husband of Kelly Pelton. At this time we are asking for donations to help with his long road of recovery. He has already had surgeries & many more to come. Please help in any way you can to help cover the cost of hotels, food, transportation, & anything else the family may need. #PeltonStrong"

Fort Lupton is a community northeast of the Denver metro.