Agent Cleared in Fatal Shooting
Grand Junction, CO - Jeffrey D. Sweetin, Special Agent in Charge of the Rocky Mountain Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration announced today that the DEA Agent involved in the May 10, 2006 fatal shooting of Joseph Carroll was cleared. Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger has determined that the death of Joseph Carroll was justified, and said, “While it is always regrettable when one human being is killed by another, the truth of the matter is that Mr. Carroll’s actions gave (the DEA Agent) no other choice but to take the action that he did.”
Hautzinger said that after carefully reviewing the evidence gathered by the 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Team (CIT) and the autopsy report on Joseph Carroll prepared by Mesa County Coroner Robert Kurtzman, he is convinced that the undercover officers present at the incident at the Orchard Mesa Lanes Bowling Alley “were in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury.”
On May 10, 2006, members of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Western Colorado Joint Drug Task Force were assisting the Grand Junction Police Department in locating Joseph Carroll who was a person of interest in the attempted murder of Rebecca Carroll. Shortly before 11:00 a.m., members of the DEA Task Force followed an unknown male to the Orchard Mesa Lanes Bowling Alley in Grand Junction.
The then unknown male entered the bowling alley and used a pay phone in the entryway. A DEA agent walked past the male and positively identified him as Joseph Carroll. Knowing that Joseph Carroll was armed and represented a serious public safety threat, the DEA agent placed himself between Carroll and occupants of the bowling alley, which included a group of small children. Meanwhile, a deputy from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office approached Carroll from the entrance of the building, made visual confirmation of Carroll’s identity and attempted to identify himself. At that point, Carroll pulled a handgun from his waistband and started to aim at the deputy. The DEA agent inside the building saw Carroll draw his weapon and took decisive action, moving back into the entryway towards Carroll and firing a total of six rounds from his duty weapon. In doing so, the DEA agent placed himself between his partner, the occupants of the bowling alley, and an armed Carroll. Three of the rounds fired struck Carroll, hitting him in the right hand, right shoulder, and the right side of his back. Evidence collected from the scene indicates that Carroll did not fire his weapon.
SAC Sweetin said, “Though we regret the loss of life, we are convinced that our agent’s quick and courageous action prevented further loss of life. Joseph Carroll left home that morning planning to have a shootout with police. Incidents like this are clear reminders that drug trafficking is a treacherous business conducted by dangerous criminals with no regard for human life.”
Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said he’s pleased with Hautzinger’s findings and cites the professionalism of the DEA Agent and officers involved.
The agencies with officers involved in this shooting are requesting that the identities of the officers/agent be kept confidential due to the nature of their undercover work and because credible threats to the officer/agent’s safety have been received, placing them and their families at great peril should their identities be revealed.
For further information, please contact Denver Field Division Public Information Officer Special Agent Suzanne Halonen at (303) 705-7351 or Grand Junction Police Department Public Information Officer Linda Bowman at (970) 985-0713.