Richard Black, a decorated Aurora, Colorado Vietnam veteran and grandfather known for carefully tending to his home garden and watching out for neighbors, was identified as the homeowner who was fatally shot by police after he shot and killed an intruder who had invaded his own home.
The tragedy occurred on July 30, 2018, a Monday, and took the life of Black, 73, a retired government worker who was just trying to protect his family from an armed intruder – Dajon Harper – who was trying to strangle his grandson, according to Patch. Protecting others appears to be in character for Black, who was also known for helping out his neighbors and who was honored with the Bronze Star for his valor in Vietnam. Richard Black was known to neighbors as “Gary.”
“This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved,” Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said in a news release. “We are providing assistance through our victim advocates to help the family of the deceased resident through this very difficult time.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Richard Black Was Awarded the Purple Heart & Other Medals for His Vietnam Service
Compounding what is already an awful set of circumstances, it turns out that Richard Black served his country valiantly in the Vietnam conflict.
An old newspaper article says Black was awarded the Bronze Star with the First Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal and a Purple Heart in ceremonies at a Fort Gordon, Georgia hospital. He received the medals for outstanding service while serving in Vietnam in the 1st Infantry Division, according to the article.
The Bronze Star is “a U.S. military decoration awarded for valor or for meritorious service.”
Although police have not yet identified Richard Black, a family member did so to News9, which reported that he was a Vietnam veteran who had served in the U.S. Army. A family member reached by Heavy declined to comment; one family member posted the newspaper article at the top of this story on Facebook with the words “rest in peace” superimposed on it.
Aurora police have provided a chronology of what occurred in a news release.
On July 30, 2018, at approximately 1:29 a.m., the Aurora Public Safety Dispatch Center (PSDC) “received multiple 911 calls advising there was a disturbance in the area of North Iola Street and East Montview Boulevard,” a police press release reported.
The PSDC “received another 911 call from an adult female at 10609 East Montview Boulevard advising an adult male intruder was breaking into her home.”
Aurora Police Officers “arrived to a very chaotic and violent scene at 10609 East Montview Boulevard,” said police.
2. Police Encountered an ‘Armed Male’ Later Determined to be the Homeowner, Who Used to Be a Certified Public Accountant for the IRS
Richard Black and his wife are listed as the home’s owners. According to 9News, Black used to be a certified public accountant in Colorado through 2008. Black used to work for the IRS, The Denver Post reported.
While on scene, says the police news release, “officers heard gunshots fired from inside the home, and encountered an armed adult male. An officer discharged his firearm striking the armed male who was transported to the hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.”
Police have not released many details on the shooting since, writing on Twitter on July 31, 2018, “Later this week, after all officers have been interviewed, APD will be holding a press conference to provide more information about the officer-involved shooting.”
They attached a news release that basically said the Office of the District Attorney is investigating and doesn’t want police to release more information. Police have not said whether Black was inside or outside his home when shot.
Dajon Harper, now identified as the intruder, “was shot and killed by Black amid a struggle after freeing the boy from the suspect’s grip,” reported The Denver Channel. Chad Hayashi, Black’s stepson, told the television station that Harper was naked when he broke into the family’s home for unclear reasons.
Hayashi said Harper was “choking the child and biting his ear in the bathtub,” referring to Black’s grandson, the television station reported. “He lived a hero; he died a hero. I’d be dead, my son would be dead. My mom, my daughter – we’d all be dead if it wasn’t for him,” Hayashi said to Denver 7.
“My dad exited the bathroom, went around the corner, and I immediately heard multiple shots, which I thought was my dad engaging these other people in the house,” Hayashi said to the television station. “There was a pause, and then I hear people start screaming, ‘Police!’ and I hear people enter the house. And my son starts screaming, ‘I’m here with my dad. This crazy guy tried to attack me.’”
3. Richard Black Was Known for Waving to Neighbors & Police Found a Deceased Intruder on the Bathroom Floor
Neighbors told ABC 13 the victim was a friendly presence in the neighborhood who was known for giving neighbors a wave when he saw them.
“Devastating. He was our neighbor. My dad knows him. He is very friendly, you know, every time we’ve seen him he’d wave,” a neighbor said to the television station.
The Denver Post reported that Black had lived in the home for decades with his wife, and that family members frequently visited the couple.
The deadly police mistake was soon discovered.
The officers “then cleared the home to ensure the scene was safe,” said the news release. “Inside, officers found an injured juvenile and the deceased adult male intruder on the bathroom floor. The injured juvenile was later transported to a local hospital for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, caused by the deceased intruder.”
Further investigation “revealed the armed male encountered by the officer was a resident of the home. Our preliminary investigation has revealed the deceased intruder on the bathroom floor was fatally shot by the armed adult male resident,” reported the police.
According to Patch, the 25-year-old intruder, who was recently released from prison, “had been strangling the child, identified as a grandchild of the homeowners.” The intruder’s name has not yet been released.
A 1985 Colorado “Make My Day Law” allows “a homeowner immunity from prosecution if they shoot an intruder who threatens them in any way,” according to Patch.
4. Richard Black Was Described as a ‘Family Man’ Who Often Tended to His Gardens
Those who knew the victim described him positively, telling the Denver Post that he was a retired grandfather and “family man” known for tending to home gardens.
“He was a family man — a grandpa that was protecting his family,” Brad Maestas, a friend of the family, told The Post. “It’s messed up.”
Neighbors told The Post the victim would tend to his flowers for hours and also watched out for his neighbors, sometimes also taking care of their yards.
5. The Officer Was Placed on Administrative Reassignment With Pay
Police have not yet identified the officer who shot Richard Black.
“The involved officer has been placed on administrative reassignment with pay as per Aurora Police Department Policy,” said police.
“We are working jointly with the Denver Police Department and the 17th Judicial District to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation. However, at the request of the 17th Judicial District, we cannot provide any additional details at this time in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, and all who are involved. We anticipate a more detailed press conference later this week once all officers involved have been interviewed,” said police.