AURORA, Colo. — Surveillance video from an Aurora gas station shows some of 23-year-old Elijah McClain’s final moments before police confronted him for looking suspicious late Saturday night.
McClain was wearing a black mask that covered most of his face over the weekend when he stopped in a Shell store near Billings St. and Colfax Ave.
He was wearing long sleeves and and long pants despite the summer weather. The man behind him in line had on a tank top and shorts.
“That’s his dressed down look,” said Naomi McClain, Elijah’s sister.
She said he gets cold when he goes running and would sometimes wear the mask.
“Maybe because I’ve grown up with Elijah and I know how he is, I don’t find it suspicious,” she said. “Maybe someone else could have… but I don’t find it suspicious because he’s Elijah.”
The store clerk said she had seen Elijah stop in the store on other occasions, and she was not nervous when he approached the counter to buy a drink.
“Honestly, I’ve seen him with a ski mask on before,” said Mariah Gentry, the cashier who sold the drinks to Elijah. “I wasn’t nervous because I knew who he was and because he was not threatening. You know, most people who come in with ski masks are going to be threatening. He wasn’t threatening at all. He was telling everybody hello. He was asking everybody how their day was.”
Police Chief Nick Metz told the FOX31 Problem Solvers that his officers had reason to stop McClain after they received a report of a suspicious man running in the neighborhood wearing a mask. Metz said McClain did not respond to commands from police, and officers struggled with him when they tried to restrain him.
Police called fire and ambulance personnel to transport McClain to the hospital, and during the ride, medical personnel administered a drug to McClain to help calm him down. His heart later stopped, and crews worked to revive him.
Aurora Fire Rescue said a preliminary investigation determined the personnel followed protocol properly.
McClain’s family told the FOX31 Problem Solvers that McClain suffered another medical setback at the hospital on Friday, and he is brain dead.
“We got a call from the hospital saying Elijah had another heart attack, and they need to have a meeting about taking him off life support,” said Naomi McClain.
Naomi said her brother was a peaceful man who smiled at everybody.
“He was this jumping ball of energy – always there, always uplifting you, giving you gratitude – respect all the time. His motto was always, ‘with gratitude,’” she said.
An Aurora Police spokesperson told FOX31 that three police officers are now on paid administrative leave during the investigation into the incident.
Lori Jane Gliha wrote this report.