Law enforcement officers shoot and kill 18-year-old Summit High School graduate

The aunt of the 18-year-old described her nephew as 'the most loving, caring kid in the world' and said he was struggling with his mental health

Ryan Spencer
Summit Daily News
A police officer stands behind crime-scene tape after police shot and killed a man in Summit Cove on Sunday, July 9.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Police shot and killed a man — who a family member identified as recent Summit County graduate Charlie Foster — early Sunday, July 9.

Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said there were several calls overnight involving the man who was killed. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office stated that the shooting happened when deputies and local police officers responded to a call at around 7:20 a.m. The man “failed repeatedly to comply with verbal commands given to him, pointed a handgun at a deputy and officer and was subsequently shot,” a news release states.

Summit County resident Monica Vasquez identified the victim as her 18-year-old nephew and said he was carrying a BB gun. Law enforcement have declined to confirm that detail and have instead called it a “handgun.”

“I watched the whole thing from my door,” Vasquez said. “They were talking him down. He’s got a mental illness. All of a sudden, they shot him.”

Many Summit County residents were alerted to the situation just before 8 a.m. Sunday, when back-to-back emergency alerts lit up their phones with shelter-in-place orders. The Sheriff’s Office said in the news release that the shooting happened when law enforcement officials responded to a report of “an armed individual wandering in the neighborhood waving a firearm and banging on residents’ doors.” 

The Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that both a Sheriff’s Office deputy and a Dillon Police Department officer shot at the man, who medics declared dead at the scene. Law enforcement officials have not yet confirmed the victim’s identity.

Call for witnesses

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has information related to it to contact Summit County Sheriff’s Office Detective Mark Gafari at 970-423-8960.

Foster was known to police from his interactions over the past three weeks with the Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART), which handles mental-health related calls, Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said. FitzSimons added that Foster had not been determined to be a danger to himself or others and had refused voluntary services from the SMART program.

The situation escalated after six calls involving the man were made to emergency officials in the overnight hours prior to the shooting, including an initial call related to the incident at 11:53 the night prior, FitzSimons said.

Vasquez said Foster had left the house late Saturday, after everyone else was asleep, and had taken her “survival bag,” which included food and supplies. Foster, who had graduated from high school in the spring, had been experiencing issues stemming from mental illness, so the family called 911 that night to report him missing, she said.

Summit County Sheriff’s Office SMART case managers Ali Weinig and Scott Bradley respond to a fatal shooting in Summit Cove on Sunday, July 9.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

After responding to another call Sunday morning at Summit Drive and Idlewild Drive in Summit Cove, law enforcement officials tried to deescalate the situation, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.

After firing shots, both the deputy and officer immediately rendered medical aid to the man until medics arrived, according to the statement. 

No one else was injured or killed in the shooting, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and both the Sheriff’s Office deputy and Dillon Police officer involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Per state law, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation conducts officer-involved shooting investigations, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has been requested to conduct an internal investigation that will review policy and procedure, the release states.

“We recognize that incidents like this have a significant impact on our community, and we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the individual who lost their life,” FitzSimons said in the news release. “We understand the pain and grief that follows such a tragic event, and we are committed to providing support and resources to those affected during this difficult time.”

The sheriff said his office remains “committed to building and maintaining trust through transparency.” Information is preliminary and could change as the investigation continues, FitzSimons said, and law enforcement will provide updates when possible.

A law enforcement official responds to a shooting in Summit Cove on Sunday, July 9.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Vasquez described her nephew as “the most loving, caring kid in the world.” She said her family had been working on getting Foster help for his mental health issues and that he had plans to continue his education by studying real estate.

“He just lost his way because of mental illness,” Vasquez said. “That needs to be talked about.”

She added that “Summit County police have let us down.”

How to get help

• Walk-in support will be available from 2-5 p.m. Monday, July 10, at Summit High School, according to Building Hope Summit County

• 24/7 support is available by calling Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255 or texting TALK to 38255

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