Security Guard, Hired to Protect Reporters, Arrested in Denver Protest Shooting Death

A private security guard working for a local news station was arrested after a man was shot dead amid dueling protests in Denver, Colorado.

The shooting occurred after a man taking part in what was billed as a "Patriot Rally" in downtown Denver sprayed mace at another man on Saturday afternoon, The Denver Post reported. That man then shot the other with a handgun near the courtyard outside the Denver Art Museum, according to the Post journalist who witnessed the incident.

The Denver Police Department (DPD) said it was investigating the shooting as a homicide after the victim later died. The suspect "is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa," the police department said in a tweet.

Update: Further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) October 11, 2020

In a report on its website, KUSA-TV, an NBC-affiliated station also known as 9NEWS, wrote that it had contracted the private security guard who was arrested in connection with the shooting through Pinkerton. The agency has been contacted for comment.

"It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests," the station said. The station said one of its producers was also initially taken into custody, but has since been released.

In a news conference, DPD Division Chief Joe Montoya said police had the suspect into custody at the scene at around 3:40 p.m.

Montoya could not confirm the affiliations of the shooter or the victim, but he said the incident had started out as a verbal altercation. He did not identify the victim or the suspect, but said they were both white males.

"There was a verbal altercation that transpired. A firearm was discharged. An individual was shot and later pronounced deceased," he said.

Two guns were recovered at the scene as well as a canister of mace, Montoya added.

Montoya also did not confirm the KUSA-TV report, saying officers were still in the process of interviewing witnesses.

"We're hopeful that as soon as possible we can get the factual information out as to what led to this, who the individuals involved were," he said. "We're hopeful that that information will help kind of calm the waters a little bit."

Right-wing protesters taking part in the Patriot Rally had gathered in the Civic Center Park's amphitheater, occasionally singing songs and brandishing banners, according to the Post.

Counter-protesters gathered for another rally, called "BLM-Antifa Soup Drive," nearby. They held up flags and signs railing against Nazis and white supremacists as in the middle of the park, several hundred feet from the barricaded-off amphitheater, the newspaper said.

Protesters gather at Civic Center Park during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd in Denver on June 6. Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images