The Colorado Springs community is mourning the loss of a parole officer who worked for the Colorado Department of Corrections and was struck and killed by a car police say was driven by a suspect on Thursday afternoon. She was identified as Officer Christine Guerin Sandoval on Friday afternoon at a law enforcement news conference.
"Christine was a mother, she was a daughter, she was a wife and she was a protector," said Colorado Corrections Chief Andre Stancil. "Christine took an oath and that oath was to protect the citizens of the state of Colorado, and she lost her life doing just that."
Guerin Sandoval and two other parole officers were in Colorado Springs just before 4 p.m. when police say they were serving a warrant and attempted to contact the suspect. That happened in the parking lot of a business at the intersection of North Spruce and Bijou Street.
Ira Cronin, public relations manager for the Colorado Springs Police Department, said the suspect was in a car and the car slammed into Guerin Sandoval and one of the other parole officers and drove off. Guerin Sandoval was declared dead after being taken to the hospital and the other injured parole officer, a woman, was treated and released from the hospital. CSPD Chief Adrian Vasquez said she is now recovering well at home.
A large scale search for the suspect then took place and. Tips from the public helped locate the vehicle and the suspect, and after a shelter-in-place warning went out in Colorado Springs' Glenview Court neighborhood without incident.
"The key to that (arrest) was the community who stepped forward and called in that suspect vehicle location here to the Colorado Springs Police Department," said Cronin.
Charges are pending against 41-year-old Kula including manslaughter, leaving scene of an accident resulting in death and third degree assault on a peace officer. The El Paso County District Attorney's office will ultimately decide what charges Kula will face.
"Any time we have a case like this when we're working in conjunction with the police department, we're looking at all possible charges, potentially even including murder or homicide charges," said District Attorney Michael Allen.
The investigation into Guerin Sandoval's death continues. Anyone who witnessed what happens or has more information about the crime that might help investigators is asked to contact Colorado Springs police.
Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade said the death of Guerin Sandoval "weighs heavy on our hearts."
"Today our community is still in shock. Our hearts and prayers are first and foremost with the family and friends of Officer Christine Guerin Sandoval and the entire Colorado Department of Corrections family as well as with the members of the law enforcement community," he said.
Mobolade said Thursday's crime "underscores the need for us as a community to support the women and men who are sworn to keep our community safe."
Gov. Jared Polis released a statement about Guerin Sandoval's death, saying "My heart is with all those affected by this horrible act of violence that occurred in Colorado Springs yesterday. I send my deepest condolences to Christine's family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time. I am grateful to all our community parole officers, law enforcement, and first responders who put their lives on the line to keep Coloradans safe and better our communities."
Blue Alerts are a tool used by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to alert the general public, through media partners and cell phone push alerts, that a dangerous suspect accused of killing or seriously injuring a peace officer is on the run. That tool was used Thursday after Kula left the scene of the crime.
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