DENVER (KDVR) — Denver police say Michael Close fired at least 24 shots from a high powered semi-automatic rifle killing 21-year-old Isabella Thallas on June 10 in the Ballpark neighborhood.
That was one of many new details released at Close’s preliminary hearing Monday morning. Denver Judge Lisa Teesch-Maguire found probable cause to bound Close over for trial on 15 counts, including first-degree murder.
Close is accused of shooting both Thallas and her boyfriend 27-year old Darian Simon, who survived despite being shot twice in his legs.
The only witness who testified at the preliminary hearing was Denver police homicide Detective Joseph Trujillo.
Trujillo told the court the shooting followed an exchange of angry words between Close and Simon after Simon’s dog pooped in a rock garden outside Close’s apartment complex at 3001 Fox St.
Simon and Thallas were walking their dog around 11:40 a.m. when Close opened his window and allegedly yelled “Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?”
Prosecutors played neighborhood surveillance video in court that showed Close opening his blinds and pointing a high powered rifle at the couple as Simon bent down to pick up his dog’s poop.
Moments later Close can be seen firing 24 rounds at the couple, killing Thallus almost instantly.
Soon after police arrived on the scene they were met by a woman named Chelsea Thompson, who identified herself as Close’s girlfriend.
According to detective Trujillo, Thompson told police Close had just called her crying and mumbling that he had shot and killed 2 people.
She told him to turn himself in but he told her he was afraid to do so after telling her “he was sorry” several times.
Thompson told police Close was driving towards the mountains in his black Mercedes SUV and police were able to ping Close’s cell phone to find his exact location.
He was arrested at Pine Junction by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Detective Trujillo testified that when Close was placed into custody he was crying and repeatedly said “he was sorry.”
Thompson told police that Close had been at her apartment the night before where the two had gotten into a fight about him possibly being with another woman.
The next morning Close texted Thompson saying he was angry because his dog had been attacked by two other dogs at a nearby apartment complex.
Minutes later he would call Thompson to say he had just shot two people.
But Denver police never found any evidence on neighborhood surveillance video that Close’s dog was ever attacked and his accusations of his dog being attacked were made by text 10 minutes before Simon and Thallas left their apartment building according to time stamped surveillance video.
Thompson told police Close “was not mentally stable and had not been the entire time she knew him” according to Detective Trujillo’s testimony.
In addition, Detective Trujillo testified that Thompson told officers Close had been diagnosed with a personality disorder and depression but had never been treated for it.
She also said that Close had a history of abusing drugs including cocaine, molly, mushrooms, ecstasy and ketamine. Plus, she said Close had just began drinking again after three years of sobriety.
Detective Trujillo said that a search warrant executed inside Close’s apartment found several open containers of alcohol, cocaine residue and six shell casings.
Another 18 shell casings were found outside Close’s apartment window.
During the investigation, police also recovered an assault-style weapon, a Glock 17 and a shotgun, plus lots of ammunition and high capacity magazines that can hold more than 15 bullets, which are not legal in Colorado unless they’re grandfathered in.
One long-time friend told police Close had texted him after the shooting to say “Dude, I fu–ed up really fu–ing bad, there’s no going back from this now.”
That same friend told police he had plans to take Close to see a therapist on the day of the shooting after Close had revealed to him that he had been sexually abused by his biological parents and suffered from a personality disorder.
Another friend told police that Close confessed to him by text that he had “just snapped.” That friend told police Close had confided spending time in a mental institution at the age of 12 and had concerns about harming himself, but the friend said he never thought Close would others.
Detectives found Close had no criminal history, but had police contact in 2014 for a Mental Health Hold but no details were released at the preliminary hearing indicating whether Close actually was taken to a mental facility six years ago or not.
It was also revealed that Close had lost his job during the pandemic and his ability to work out at his gym, which was important to him.
During cross-examination, Close’s defense attorney pointed out that Darian Simon was shown a photo line-up from his hospital room on June 14, four days after the shooting, and identified the wrong suspect as the person who shot him.
Regardless, Judge Teesch-Maguire found there was plenty of evidence from surveillance video and Close’s own statements in phone calls and texts to find credible evidence against Close.
She ordered him to continue to be held without bond and set his arraignment for Jan. 4.
Close faces charges for two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, nine counts of using a prohibited high-capacity magazine during a crime, two counts of prohibited use of a firearm and one count of disorderly conduct.
He also faces four sentence enhancers for violent crime.