Centennial doctor killed trying to help injured neighbor

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- A man killed in Centennial on Monday was a doctor trying to help his neighbor who had been shot.

Neighbors said the incident started as a domestic dispute, and when a woman ran for help, the suspect shot her, another woman and a man who were neighbors coming to help. The man was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Police did not confirm the doctor's identity, but his office and neighbors said 65-year-old Kenneth Atkinson was the man fatally shot. Atkinson had been a family doctor in Centennial the past 30 years.

“Most of our patients, when they saw Dr. Atkinson, they never wanted to leave. He just clicked with them. He cared about his patients and that came across,” said Mary DeLapp, his medical assistant of 15 years.

“He was such a good person and a good doctor and he was like my family. He, his wife, his family, his grandkids, and his daughters,” she said.

Atkinson leaves behind a wife and two kids. At 65, he was close to retiring, and just two weeks ago, got to meet a new grandchild.

The other loves of his life were his patients, which is why DeLapp wasn’t surprised to hear he died trying to help someone in need of medical assistance.

“If Doc saw something, he was just going to help. That was Doc. He probably didn’t even think about himself. He probably just went to help this person because that’s how he was. That was Doc,” DeLapp said.

Atkinson’s family has seen more tragedy than one family should have to bear. Several years ago, he lost two of his children to complications from fanconi anemia, a rare cancer.

A funeral date has not been set.

Former patients wanting to reach out to the family are asked to call his Centennial office at 303-741-4400.

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