Man charged with murder in death of former Aurora Central High School vice principal

DENVER — A man has been charged with 24 counts, including first-degree murder, in a crime spree across Commerce City and Denver that left a former vice principal at Aurora Central High School dead earlier this month, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

Eric Ukuni, 26, was detained by four men until officers arrived after he allegedly hit and killed Ernest Gurrini in a 7-Eleven parking lot at East 40th Avenue and Havana Street on Aug. 8.

Prosecutors allege that after a night of drinking and doing drugs at a Commerce City bar, Ukuni broke into the Mi Pueblo Market in the 6000 block of East 64th Avenue in Commerce City and attempted to rob store employees.

He then is alleged to have carjacked a pickup truck from a father and daughter in the store parking lot, then tried to run them over.

When officers from the Commerce City Police Department arrived, Ukuni took off in the stolen truck, the district attorney’s office said.

After a short chase, officers lost sight of the truck and terminated the pursuit.

Prosecutors said Ukuni allegedly struck and pushed a vehicle out of his path as he fled, intentionally hit another vehicle on East 40th Avenue, then crossed Havana Street where he hit and killed Gurrini, 66, next to a delivery van.

Ukuni then allegedly tried to carjack more vehicles in the 7-Eleven parking lot where Gurrini had just purchased coffee before he was detained.

Ukuni is charged with one count of first-degree burglary; one count of second-degree burglary; two counts of criminal attempt to commit aggravated robbery; two counts of aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim; two counts of criminal attempt to commit murder; two counts of first-degree criminal attempt to commit assault; one count of vehicular eluding; one count of criminal mischief; three counts of murder in the first degree-after deliberation, -felony, and -knowingly/grave risk of death; one count of aggravated robbery; one count of second-degree attempted aggravated motor vehicle theft; four counts of crime of violence (sentence enhancer); and two counts of habitual criminal (sentence enhancer).

Ukuni is being held without bond in the Denver city jail. His first court appearance has not been scheduled.