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UCCS hires outside attorney to investigate response to double-homicide shooting

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - As University of Colorado Colorado Springs students and staff have voiced safety concerns after a double-homicide shooting on campus last month, the college has launched an investigation into its response to the deadly shooting.

On Thursday, UCCS sent a campus-wide email to students and staff announcing it hired two outside attorneys, Jason Dunn and former Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers, “to help the campus gain a more complete understanding of the facts leading up to and including the incident that occurred on February 16, and to review relevant campus policies and procedures.”

On Feb. 16, just before 6 a.m., campus police at UCCS received a call for gunshots in a dorm room POD. When officers responded to the dorm POD, they found two people dead with apparent gunshot wounds. The El Paso County Coroner identified them as 26-year-old Celie Rain Montgomery of Pueblo, Colorado, and 24-year-old Samual Knopp of Parker, Colorado. Knopp was a student at UCCS and lived with the alleged shooter Nicholas Jordan.

KRDO13 Investigates reached out to Dunn about the investigation. He said he would defer to the university for any comments. UCCS declined an interview with KRDO13 Investigates about the investigation but said it was to review its policies and procedures before, during, and after the shooting inside the door room.

Since the shooting, students and staff have raised concerns about how the college handled the shooting and other safety concerns. Nearly 845 people have signed an online petition calling for increased security on campus.

“We will not feel safe on your campus until you provide appropriate safety measures for your students: cameras outside dormitories and apartment housing on campus, secure classroom buildings, and working surveillance in all parking locations,” the petition said. “We ask you to consider these requests in honor of Samuel Knopp and Celie Montgomery.”

One of the complaints from students was the lack of communication between the college and law enforcement during the initial investigation. Jordan wasn’t arrested until three days after the shooting but many students said they weren’t aware a suspect was still on the loose while they held public memorial services.

Then there are questions on if this shooting could have been avoided altogether. According to court documents, Knopp and the other roommate filed multiple complaints against Jordan with UCCS Housing and UCCS Police for “unsafe living conditions and smoking in the room.”

The roommate said there was an altercation between Knopp and Jordan in January. Knopp collected and placed a bag of trash outside Jordan's door. Jordan then threatened Knopp and said that he would "kill him" and there would be consequences if Jordan was asked to take the trash out again. This altercation was confirmed by UCCS Police and UCCS Housing.

Once the investigation is complete, UCCS said it would release the findings to the public and change any policies and procedures if necessary.

“At the conclusion of this review, we will make public an executive summary of key findings as well as any policy or process changes they recommend,” said the email announcing the investigation. “Depending on the results of that review, we may convene our Emergency Management Team to work on any suggested process changes. We take our responsibility as an institution of learning seriously. We will practice what we teach. And we will share what we learn.”

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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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