JeffCo jury returns guilty verdict for man who fired at SWAT officers


(Photo: First Judicial District Attorney’s Office)

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — After six days of trial, a Jefferson County jury returned a guilty verdict for a 45-year-old man who was arrested and charged for firing shots at officers during a SWAT standoff.

Ralph Kirksten Barnhardt was found guilty on 39 counts Tuesday for shooting at police officers following a domestic violence assault and SWAT standoff at 12574 W. Grand Ave. in Morrison in July 2013, according to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

In the morning hours of July 5, 2013, Barnhardt’s estranged wife, Dawn, and their 10-year-old son went to his home in Morrison following several text messages in which he insisted they go to the house to feed the dogs.

The DA’s Office said Dawn did not expect to find her estranged husband home when she arrived. When she did get to his house, Barnhardt began yelling, causing her to leave and return to her car.

Barnhardt followed Dawn and their son out to her vehicle. He leaned in over the passenger side, where his son sat, and punched his wife in the face, head and shoulders repeatedly.

Landscapers nearby heard Dawn’s screams and ran over to help her.

Deputies arrived at 10 a.m. and the incident escalated to a standoff with SWAT team after Barnhardt barricaded himself in his home holding a semi-automatic gun in each hand.

Barnhardt fired 11 shots directly at officers.

Law enforcement returned the fire, hitting Barnhardt.

On Tuesday, he was convicted on 19 counts of attempted murder, 14 counts of first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, menacing with a deadly weapon, child abuse, third-degree assault, harassment and failure to leave premises.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5 at 1 p.m.

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