COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - An expectant father was shot and killed defending his wife, friends tell 11 News.
The victim was gunned down in broad daylight behind a downtown Colorado Springs car wash Monday afternoon. Police previously told 11 News the victim was shot following some sort of confrontation; the victim's friends tell 11 News that confrontation began because the victim was protecting his pregnant wife.
"The individual was harassing his wife, and when they went to the car wash he was trying to confront to defend his wife. Anybody who knows Nick knows no matter what's going on, he'll defend anybody that he cares for," Andrew Morrow told 11 News.
Police have now identified the victim as 31-year-old Nicholas Anderson.
The shooting set off a wild chain of events downtown, starting with the suspect's getaway attempt. He sped away from the scene, but chose the route that would take him straight to the Colorado Springs Police Department's main headquarters. There, he crashed into a police cruiser driven by a sergeant who was heading to the shooting scene.
"The suspect is traveling westbound at a high rate of speed and t-bones that unmarked patrol vehicle, rolling that," said Lt. Jim Sokolik a spokesperson with CSPD.
The events began around 3:40 Monday afternoon at the Car Wash and Detail on 525 S. Nevada Ave.
Employee Jenna McDaniel was ending her shift when she heard a commotion behind the building.
"I just thought somebody was angry and throwing stuff around or something. ... Then one of my coworkers came inside and said, 'There was a shooting. Someone just got shot outside.' And he was running."
A cashier called 911 while McDaniel rewound the surveillance tape to see what had happened.
"I saw all the footage. I just kind of hung out there. I was in shock. I didn't know where to go or what to do. I walked outside to see what was going on and I saw [the victim] laying there, and the paramedics were attending to him."
"You could tell he was already gone by that point."
Based on the surveillance, police said the victim had been in a car and pulled up in the alley behind the car wash.
"Exits the vehicle, had some sort of contact with the suspect and there was at least one shot fired," Sokolik said. "The suspect entered a vehicle, left the area at a high rate of speed."
He was still speeding when he crashed into the officer's cruiser a couple of blocks away.
"The guy just hit [the officer] straight on," a witness to the crash told 11 News.
The cruiser toppled onto its side. Several bystanders rushed over and helped the officer climb out. He didn't suffer any major injuries, Sokolik said.
"The sergeant there is OK. He was able to get out of the vehicle," Sokolik said.
Instead of driving on, police said the shooter went back to the car wash.
"They told us all to stay inside, to go to the front of the building because he was in the back. So we all stayed inside and they locked everything up," McDaniel said.
It's unclear why the shooter returned, but he was promptly taken into custody, according to Sokolik. Police identified him Wednesday as 56-year-old John Stokes. He is facing charges of first-degree murder.
People who knew Anderson say they are heartbroken at the loss of their friend. They described him as a doting father to his stepdaughter and a talented tattoo artist.
"It was heartbreaking last night to hear Azure [Anderson's wife] say that Thalia didn't want to come home until Daddy was coming home," Anderson said. "He was getting to start this family that he really deserved and was really happy with and everything was really falling into place for him."
Friends have started a GoFundMe to help Anderson's widow with funeral expenses and childcare costs. Click here if you wish to donate.
Friends are also planning fundraising events down the road; we will provide information once we have the dates.
Arrest papers obtained by 11 News detail what one witness told police. The witness is an employee of the car wash.
"He [the witness] observed the driver of the black Audi (Nicholas Anderson) get out of his vehicle, approach the driver side of the red SUV and begin yelling and beating on the windows," the arrest papers read. "[The witness] advised that Nicholas Anderson ultimately got the door of the red SUV open, and then appeared to climb inside and punch the driver of the SUV. [The witness] stated he then heard a gunshot, and Nicholas Anderson exited the red SUV. He then advised he observed the driver of the red SUV with a gun shoot Nicholas Anderson... he was unsure 'of' Nicholas Anderson had been shot the first time, but knew he was shot the second time and Nicholas Anderson fell to the ground. [The witness] stated he then saw the driver of the red SUV walk over to where Nicholas Anderson was on the ground, stand over top of him as Nicholas Anderson was laying on the ground, and shot him 2 or 3 more times."
According to the arrest papers, Stokes admitted to being the person who shot Anderson. Stokes told a detective that he had "unloaded" on Anderson. Stokes also said, "Nicholas Anderson had crossed the line and paid the price," according to the arrest papers.