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Denver officers fired 36 bullets at armed man threatening 7-Eleven employees, police say

Denver police officers collectively shot 36 bullets in less than 5 seconds at an armed man who held two 7-Eleven employees hostage this month, police announced Friday.

Three officers fired handguns, and one officer discharged a department-approved rifle, Cmdr. Matt Clark said at a Denver Police Department news conference Friday. Neither of the employees was injured.

Officers first responded to the 7-Eleven at 450 North Federal Boulevard after four customers called in to report a stabbing and robbery in progress about 6:50 p.m. March 1, Clark said.

When officers arrived, the suspect — 43-year-old Christopher Cauch — had barricaded himself and two 7-Eleven employees in a locked office behind the sales counter.

“The officers, from outside of the office, could hear commotion going on inside and what sounded like an escalating disturbance,” Clark said. “The officer door had a small, square window in the center of it and through that door an officer was able to see inside and believed he saw the offender … holding a knife to one of the employees.”

After attempts to communicate with Cauch, officers tried to break through the door and found Cauch had blocked it from the inside using a desk and a computer, Clark stated.

The four were able to push open the door to the point where they could partially see inside the room. When they saw Cauch holding a sharp object to one employee’s neck and heard him threatening to stab the employee, all four officers simultaneously opened fire, Clark said.

Cauch dropped the object — a 6-inch metal shaft used to pull out nails — and fell backward into a chair while both employees ran from the office and were escorted out of the store by officers, Clark said.

Paramedics took Cauch to Denver Health, where he died from his injuries.

Both employees were examined by paramedics at the scene — one had a minor neck injury, and the other was uninjured, Clark stated. Neither was taken to a hospital.

According to Clark, Cauch carjacked a vehicle in Lakewood just two hours before barging into the 7-Eleven. Lakewood police briefly pursued Cauch but called off the chase because of his reckless driving.

At 6:48 p.m., Cauch was spotted speeding westbound down Fifth Avenue in Denver before turning into the 7-Eleven parking lot and entering the store, Clark said.

Cauch then jumped the counter and forced the employee at the register into the back office where another employee was working, Clark stated.

The four officers who fired shots are on modified duty status pending the outcome of the investigation.

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