Police: Suspect in stolen car flees from police, kills 2 bystanders

Local News

BRIGHTON, Colo. (KDVR) — Two people died Tuesday after a suspect fleeing from Brighton Police crashed into a vehicle, killing someone inside, then hit and killed a pedestrian.

The suspect, who is accused of driving a stolen vehicle, is under arrest. Three police officers are on paid leave as the pursuit itself is under investigation, according to police.

“It’s a very tragic day,” said Brighton Councilman Matt Johnston, who lives near the crash location. “The sound [of the crash] itself was beyond anything I’ve ever heard.”

Police said the chase lasted less than two minutes.

Officers were dispatched on a report of a suspicious vehicle just after 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Soon, police realized the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Westminster, according to Brighton Police Chief Paul Southard. When police backup arrived, Southard said the suspect rammed a squad car and the chase was on.

“The stolen car ran a stop sign and struck another car,” Southard said during a press conference. It happened at Bridge and Bierstadt streets.

A female passenger in that other car was ejected and taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Police said the driver in the stolen car continued on Bierstadt, lost control of the car then hit a pedestrian — a man — who was also rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Under arrest is 25-year-old Nicholas Vilarina.

“This has been a very tough day for our community,” Southard said.

Watch the full press conference with the Brighton Police Department on FOX31 NOW.

What is the Brighton Police Department’s policy on chasing vehicles?

The FOX31 Problem Solvers asked Southard how the circumstances of the deadly chase relates to Brighton police policy.

“We don’t pursue for property crimes, non-violent crimes,” the chief said. “I’d rather let the investigation play out before I make too many comments about that.“

Brighton police policy authorizes officers to initiate a pursuit when they believe a suspect represents a certain threat to another person. Officers are obligated to weigh the seriousness of a crime in relation to community safety.

You can view the Brighton Police Department’s pursuit policy here.

“We are just one of the best departments with the best culture,” Johnston said. “We’ve had a limited pursuit policy for a long time.”

To help prevent future pursuits, Johnston is interested in technology that can track suspect vehicles.

“You can shoot a GPS tracker out of the front of a police car onto a vehicle,” he said.

The arrested suspect and his female passenger are both being treated for injuries.

The 17th Judicial District investigation team is looking into the circumstances that led to the pursuit.

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