A man working as a private security guard for a TV station was in custody Sunday as authorities investigated a fatal shooting after an altercation during opposing rallies in downtown Denver.
The violence flared Saturday afternoon in Civic Center Park after a man participating in what was called a “Patriot Rally” sprayed mace at another man, according to the Denver Post.
The man who was shot near the Denver Art Museum was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died an hour later, KUSA TV station said. The station said on its website that it had contracted the private security guard who was arrested in connection with the shooting.
“It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests,” the station said.
Denver police on Sunday identified the security guard as Matthew Dolloff, 30, and said he was being held for investigation of first-degree murder in connection with Saturday's incident. City officials said Dolloff was not licensed to work as an armed private security guard in Denver, the Post reported.
The shooting victim, who has not been named by authorities, was identified to the Post as Lee Keltner, a 49-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who operated a hat-making business in the Denver area.
“He wasn’t a part of any group,” Johnathon Keltner told the newspaper. “He was there to rally for the police department and he’d been down there before rallying for the police department.”
UPDATE: Matthew Dolloff (DOB 03-07-1990) is being held for Investigation of First Degree Murder in connection w/the shooting that occurred yesterday at 10 W. 14th Ave. This remains an active investigation; any additional updates will be released as it becomes available. #Denver https://t.co/1Y7Yw7stL0 pic.twitter.com/Va3Lvc1CwT
— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) October 11, 2020
A verbal altercation ensued before the shooting, said Joe Montoya, division chief of investigations for the Denver Police Department.
A "private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa" is a suspect in the incident, police tweeted earlier Saturday.
There was a heavy police presence downtown Saturday afternoon, and officers attempted to keep "two groups with opposing views" apart, Montoya said. Two guns and a can of mace were found at the scene, he said.
A counterprotest called “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive” took place in the park around the same time as the Patriot Rally.
The right-wing Patriot Rally protesters gathered in the park’s amphitheater and chanted songs and hoisted banners, the Post reported.
Participants in the left-wing rally held up flags and signs deriding Nazis and white supremacists as they gathered in the middle of the park, several hundred feet from the barricaded amphitheater, the Post said.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said violence was not acceptable.
"While we encourage peaceful protest, we will never tolerate demonstrations escalating to clashes and violence. Political differences should be resolved at the ballot box and not in the streets, and we will keep it that way through this election season and beyond," he tweeted.
The shooting occurred beneath a city surveillance camera, and police said they have footage of the incident, KUSA-TV reported.
Our thoughts are with the family of the victim of the shooting that took place today. I am not going to comment on the details as it is still under investigation, and its connection or not to either demonstration hasn’t been determined. (1/4)
— Michael B. Hancock (@MayorHancock) October 11, 2020
Clashes between protesters have escalated in recent months in some cities.
Rittenhouse's arrest has become a rallying point for some on the right. A legal defense fund has attracted millions in donations, and President Donald Trump even defended the teen.
Others see Rittenhouse as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited the protesters.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Denver shooting: Security guard in custody; BLM; Patriot rally