DENVER (KDVR) — Family and friends of the man killed Saturday at a ‘Patriots Muster’ rally in Denver said they were “shocked and surprised” to learn about what happened.
The victim hasn’t been formally identified, but friends and family members told FOX31’s Kevin Torres his name was Lee Keltner.
“We will miss our friend, very much so,” a friend, who asked not to be named said. “He was the guy that would give you the shirt off his back. Not just somebody who was killed in a protest.”
Keltner was at Civic Center Park participating in the rally while an opposing group held an event called BLM/Antifa Soup Kitchen just a short distance away.
As tensions escalated, a man who 9NEWS says was working as a security guard for their reporting crew allegedly shot and killed Keltner after Keltner deployed what appeared to be mace.
“Mace isn’t a deadly force. How can you be shot for doing that?” the friend asked.
The friend said he’s unaware of Keltner being part of any groups.
“To my knowledge, in 20 years, I’ve never known him to be a racist. A proud American? Yes. But a racist? No,” the friend said.
Social media posts indicate Keltner has participated in other rallies recently. Friends describe him as a “patriot” who would sometimes bring his motorcycle to the demonstrations.
Colorado Court records show Keltner’s criminal history dates back several decades. His most recent charge came in 2016 for Disorderly Conduct/Fighting in Public. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to violating a protection order.
On Facebook, Keltner’s wife told friends, “heart is broken. The police have reached out to me. Right now I can’t say a lot.”
A friend who knew Keltner through the biker community called the incident a “senseless killing” and says nothing justifies the type of confrontation that led to Keltner’s death.
Friends and family members are remembering Keltner as a husband, father, grandfather, talented hat maker and a man who loved the Old West; he even participated in Buffalo Bill-related shows in Golden.