Colorado man fires gun at police from home; when officers return fire, they fatally shoot his brother

Audrey J. Powers

A man who shot at police in Colorado this week from inside his home prompted officers to return fire, leading to the death of his brother, an affidavit says.

Police responded to the home of Phillip Blankenship, 29, at about 7:40 p.m. Sunday in the Denver suburb of Englewood, according to Blankenship’s arrest affidavit on suspicion of criminal attempted first-degree murder.

Blankenship’s mother called police and said her son was “intoxicated and causing a disturbance,” the affidavit said. She also said her son was suicidal and had shot a gun inside the home, according to the affidavit.

When police arrived, Blankenship “shot a .380 handgun” at an officer who was behind a Nissan Pathfinder in the home’s driveway because “he wanted the police to kill him,” the affidavit said. Blankenship also fired multiple rounds at a second officer, it said.

No officers were injured, officials said.

Blankenship’s first shot struck the Pathfinder’s windshield, and other shots he fired hit a police vehicle, the affidavit said.

The return fire from police resulted in the death of Blankenship’s 22-year-old brother, Matthew Mitchell, who was in a bedroom where Blankenship had barricaded himself, the affidavit said.

Blankenship spoke to detectives at about 4:20 a.m. Monday, authorities said. He said that before police were called to his home, he had an argument with his grandmother and told her he was suicidal, they said.

When she challenged him, according to the affidavit, he shot a round from a .44 Magnum into a wall. He left the gun in the home’s basement before he barricaded himself in his bedroom, where he had access to the .380, the affidavit said.

Blankenship told detectives that he was the only person shooting at police and that his brother was not involved in firing at the officers, the affidavit said.

Mitchell “sustained gunshot wounds during a police altercation,” the Arapahoe County Coroner’s Office said in a statement. It directed other inquiries to Englewood police.

It was not clear Wednesday whether Blankenship had retained an attorney. He remained in jail Wednesday afternoon in Arapahoe County on $200,000 bond, according to jail records. A court hearing is scheduled Friday, records said.

Englewood police could not be reached for comment Wednesday. According to statements about the shooting on the police department’s Facebook page, “The officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave per Department policy.”

Blankenship’s father, Phillip Blankenship Sr., of Golden, Colorado, said Wednesday his son and Mitchell were very close. Blankenship Sr. said that while he believes his son might have wanted to harm himself, he would not want to hurt his younger sibling.

“There was never any intention for anyone to get hurt,” Blankenship Sr. said. “I’m very numb. I’m very, very sad.”

He added that his son was on suicide watch in jail.

Blankenship Sr. said his son is a former firefighter who experienced trauma on the job. “He certainly wasn’t mentally happy for a few years, at least. He didn’t talk to me enough about it, even though I asked him to.”

NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver reported that the aftermath of Sunday’s shooting was apparent at Blankenship’s home. Windows were shattered, and a backyard fence was destroyed. The station also showed an image of what appeared to be a bullet hole in a patrol vehicle.

Helen Kwong contributed.

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