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Semi driver who admitted to fatally shooting woman in Aurora from truck cab claims self-defense and is charged with murder

Police: semi driver shot woman who tried to break into the cab of his truck in Aurora
Police: semi driver shot woman who tried to break into the cab of his truck in Aurora 00:21

A woman was shot and killed in an Aurora parking lot at Parker and Arapahoe roads early Friday morning. Officers rushed to the scene at 6360 South Parker Road around 2:30 a.m.

That's the parking lot of the King Soopers and Boot Barn stores.

Officers arrested John Thoren, 42, of Ankeny, Iowa. According to court documents, Thoren was sleeping in the cab of his semi when he awoke to the sound of something hitting his truck. Thoren said he saw a woman, later identified as Rachel Holmes, 46, throw a rock or rocks at his truck 10 to 15 times over a few-minute period.

John Thoren Aurora Police

Thoren told police he mouthed the word "stop" to Holmes, but she just kept throwing a rock at his truck, according to an arrest warrant. Thoren said he held up a gun, cracked the window of his truck and said, "if you don't stop you are about to get shot."

That's when, according to Thoren, Holmes rushed toward the truck with something in her hand. Thoren told police the woman looked angry, and he was confused and scared.

Thoren rolled the window down and shot Holmes, according to the arrest warrant. He told police he, "squeezed a round off and got her."

After he shot the woman, he called 911 to report the shooting and told police he wanted to cooperate, although according to investigators, parts of his story had changed such as where he was when he shot Holmes and if he had rolled down the window or gotten out of the truck.

First responders attempted to help Holmes, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Holmes' body was found 3 to 4 feet away from the driver's side cab. Thoren told police that he had delivered a load to the King Soopers store earlier and parked behind the store to sleep because he was out of driving hours. 

According to the probable cause statement from Arapahoe County Court, Thoren told officers that he thought she was trying to break into the cab of his semi while he was sleeping.  

Investigators asked Thoren why he didn't try to drive away.

"That might have been better in this one, but I was scared," he told investigators. "I felt like I was trapped."

Detectives asked Thoren if he intended to kill Holmes.

"Not specifically," he responded. "I knew it probably could. My number one intention was to protect myself. That was my intent, whatever I had to do to do it. That was what I was thinking."

An investigator asked Thoren if the shooting was accidental or if he fired any warning shots, to which he said it was not an accident and, "I do not believe in warning shots personally."

Following his interview with police, Thoren was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

According to an online search of Colorado court records, Holmes had been released from jail four days prior to the shooting. She was arrested Sunday by Denver Police for disturbing the peace and released on a personal recognizance bond the next day.

In the six previous years, Holmes had three arrests in the metro area, charges included disorderly conduct and assaults on police officers. In each of those cases, she was ordered to undergo mental health evaluations. And in each of those cases, charges were dropped and the cases closed.

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