Armed homeowner killed by police was Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient

AURORA, Colo. -- Family members have identified the armed homeowner who was shot and killed by Aurora police early Monday as Richard "Gary" Black.

Family members say he was a grandfather and Vietnam veteran. They said he was trying to defend his home to protect his family when he was shot.

"Decorated Army veteran Richard 'Gary' Black died a hero by shooting and killing a naked intruder who was trying to kill his 11-year-old grandson," the attorney for his family, Siddhartha H. Rathod, said Tuesday.

"Gary was shot and killed by police while he was in his living room. It's currently unknown if police fired from outside or inside the house. There was more than one intruder -- they were strangers to the family."

Black's wife called 911 and described what her husband was wearing. She was outside as police ran to the house and again described her husband's appearance, Rathod said.

The Aurora Police Department has not confirmed the information released by the family's attorney.

Black served with the 1st Infantry Division. Black earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

But early Monday morning, the veteran was killed as a violent scene unfolded at his home on Montview Boulevard near Iola Street.

“I heard the shots. It was just that quick, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam,” neighbor, Steven Ponikiski said.

The Black family called police at 1 a.m. as a man broke into their home. When officers arrived, they heard gunfire then encountered an armed man, later identified as Black.

An officer shot and killed him, but when police went inside the home, they found the intruder dead on the bathroom floor, shot minutes earlier by Black.

Those who knew Black are stunned.

“It’s just devastating. He was very friendly, every time we seen him he’d wave,” Bethany Lee said.

Officers say a child inside the home was injured by the intruder.

“The grandkids, they had a zip line and were always playing in the backyard. It’s tragic and very sad,” Ponikiski said.

While the family mourns the loss of their loved one, the Denver Police Department and the district attorney's office are investigating.

Police Chief Nick Metz will hold a news conference on Thursday to talk about this case.

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