CSP: Shot trooper improving, will have more surgery today

Trooper Eugene Hofacker, who was shot during a traffic stop May 8, 2014.

Trooper Eugene Hofacker, who was shot during a traffic stop May 8, 2014.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado State Patrol trooper who was shot while helping a motorist was awake and in “good spirits” Friday morning.

According to a Facebook post, Eugene Hofacker, will need additional surgery.

Hofacker and Trooper Shane Gosnell were traveling to a training when they stopped to help a motorist on the side of the road Thursday morning. As Hofacker approached the car, the driver shot him.

Gosnell returned fire, killing the driver.

The Department of Corrections said the shooter was Thomas Ornelas.  A spokeswoman released the name after they were notified by investigators that Ornelas was deceased.  The coroner is expected to confirm the identity soon.

Family members of Ornelas told FOX31 Denver he has a long and violent criminal history.

Hofacker was taken to a hospital in Glenwood Springs. In a statement Friday morning the Patrol said “I want to let you know that Trooper Hofacker is awake this morning and communicating with us. He is in good spirits as he prepares for additional surgery today.”

Hofacker is a 6-year veteran of the Patrol and is based in Vail. He has a girlfriend who was with him in the hospital, CSP spokesman Scott Hernandez said.

Trooper Shane Gosnell

Trooper Shane Gosnell

CSP said Gosnell is a 3-year veteran of the force.

“Undoubtedly the heroic actions of Trooper Gosnell saved the life of Trooper Hofacker” said Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We are extremely proud of Trooper Gosnell, as well as the other members of the Colorado State Patrol, who acted swiftly when arriving on scene.”

Ornelas was free on bond in attempted murder case

At the time of the shooting Ornelas was free on a $75,000 bond in an attempted second-degree murder case.

Ornelas was charged with nine counts from an incident in Mesa County on March 1. He had plead not guilty.

According to court records, Ornelas was sentenced to 18 years in prison from a second-degree murder case in Denver in 1990.

He served 12 years and was paroled in 2002, but was sent back to prison for violating parole the following year.

In 2004 he was paroled a second time.

After completing his sentence Ornelas was charged with multiple crimes in Montrose County in 2007 and 2010.  Those crimes included third-degree assault and obstructing a peace officer.