Family’s stolen vehicle destroyed in shootout after police set up sting to catch thief

WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- A family said it was inconvenient and costly when someone stole their vehicle in April.

Tanya Lillie said that's why they were excited when a relative spotted it a couple of days later near West 73rd Avenue and Tennyson Street.

They agreed to hold off retrieving it when the Westminster Police Department told them investigators had it under surveillance and were trying to catch the thief.

But Lillie said a half-hour later, police called to say the vehicle had been involved in a shootout. Officers fired 46 rounds into the vehicle, and shot and killed the suspect.

Police kept the vehicle at an impound lot all summer for the officer-involved shooting investigation. They told the family they could pick up the car Tuesday but would have to pay to have the inoperable vehicle towed away.

Lillie said they can't afford that and meanwhile, they are being charged $20 a day while the car sits in the lot.

The front windshield and driver's side door are riddled with bullet holes. The seat cushions and dash are destroyed. Now Lillie said they will have to replace the vehicle, something else they cannot afford.

Police said it is an insurance issue, but the Lillies had only basic insurance on the vehicle and that won't come close to paying for another car.

"When you're the victim from the car theft, and a victim from the car being destroyed, and now a victim the third time having to pay a bill I shouldn't have to pay at all ..." Lillie said.

City officials said they would look into options to help the family pay for the car.