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Man sentenced to federal prison for 2021 shooting of Rocky Mountain National Park ranger

ESTES PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- A man was sentenced to federal prison for the shooting of a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park last year, according to 9NEWS.

Prosecutors said Daron Ellis pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a federal officer and brandishing a firearm during a "crime of violence." According to court documents obtained by 9NEWS, Ellis was sentenced in federal court to 23 years and six months in prison, with an additional eight years of supervised release.

On Dec. 19, Ellis shot at the Rocky Mountain National Park ranger with a handgun near Highway 34, around 10:15 a.m., according to an arrest affidavit obtained by 9NEWS. The ranger fired back, hitting Ellis, another person in the car said.

According to the affidavit, the ranger was trying to stop the vehicle that Ellis was driving before the shooting happened. The driver was pulled over nearly a half hour earlier by a Colorado State Patrol trooper for speeding on Highway 34. Once the driver got pulled over, the trooper noticed the vehicle and license plate had been stolen after it came back as registered to different owners, the affidavit states.

During the stop, the driver, who was later identified to be Ellis, exited the vehicle without instruction. He did a three-point turn and drove off, according to the affidavit. The trooper pursued Ellis for about a quarter-mile before ending it.

According to the affidavit, Ellis made his way through Estes Park before driving into park grounds, eventually encountering the park ranger.

When the vehicle approached the ranger, Ellis "fishtailed" the car and went off the road, hitting rocks, a woman who was in the car with Ellis said. The ranger got out of his car and walked toward their vehicle with his gun drawn, ordering Ellis and the woman to "get out" with their hands up. Documents state the ranger threatened to shoot the two.

Ellis got a handgun and fired at the ranger "until he was out of ammunition," the woman reported. Ellis was believed to have fired first and the ranger fired back, hitting Ellis, the woman reported.

National Park Service said the ranger wore a ballistic vest and did not suffer serious injuries.

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