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A Security Guard Will Be Charged With Murder For A Fatal Shooting At A Denver Protest

Matthew Dolloff, 30, faces 16 to 48 years in prison if convicted.

Posted on October 16, 2020, at 11:17 a.m. ET

Helen H. Richardson / Getty Images

A "Patriot Rally" protester sprays mace as a security guard, hired by 9News, fires his weapon at the protester, killing him, during two dueling protests in downtown Denver on Saturday, Oct. 10.

A private security guard hired by the news outlet 9News will be charged with murder after allegedly shooting a protester at dueling demonstrations in Denver on Saturday.

Matthew Dolloff, 30, will be charged with second-degree murder for the death of 49-year-old Lee Keltner, the Denver District Attorney's office announced on Thursday. He faces a mandatory sentence of 16 to 48 years in prison if convicted.

Denver District Attorney

Matthew Dolloff

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced she’ll file the charges against Dolloff on Monday.

The shooting occurred last weekend when a far-right "Patriot Rally" clashed with a left-wing counterprotest.

Toward the end of the two protests, Dolloff and Keltner got into a verbal altercation. According to the arrest affidavit, Keltner hit the side of Dolloff's head with an open hand, and Dolloff drew his gun, pointing it at Keltner. According to the affidavit, Dolloff fired his gun striking Keltner as Keltner sprayed the mace and collapsed to the ground.

Keltner, who was seen on video standing with the right-wing protesters, was initially identified by his mother in a Facebook group for the Northeast Arkansas Tea Party.

Despite being hired by the private security firm Pinkerton, Dolloff did not have an active license to work as a security guard, authorities said.

The Denver District Attorney's office told CBS4 that both Pinkerton and 9News could face consequences for hiring an unlicensed guard.

“Licensed security guard employers that hire unlicensed security guards could face disciplinary actions against their licenses ranging from a fine, to suspension, to revocation," the district attorney's office said. "Businesses could also face criminal charges for permitting or directing an unlicensed person to perform security services."

9News said in a statement following the shooting that it has been standard practice in recent months to hire private security guards to travel with their staff while reporting on protests. It is the responsibility of the firm, Pinkerton, to ensure guards are licensed, they said.

"9NEWS contracted with Pinkerton and had directed that security guards accompanying our personnel not be armed," the outlet added. "None of 9NEWS’ crew accompanied by Mr. Dolloff on Saturday were aware that he was armed.”

Helen H. Richardson / Getty Images

A Patriot Rally protester and a security guard suspected of killing him get into a physical confrontation before the protester is shot and killed by the suspect.

Doug Richards, an attorney representing Dolloff's family, said in a statement to 9News that Dolloff had acted in self-defense.

"Matt put his life and now his liberty in between the now-deceased and the 9News employee," Richards said. "This was not a political assignment for Matt. This was simply Matt protecting your employee."

After the shooting, rumors flared online claiming, with no evidence, that Dolloff was affiliated with "antifa," boosted by posts he'd made on social media showing his progressive political views.

The Denver Police Department said that was not true, and that "further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa."

Antifa is not an official organization, but rather an ambiguously defined collection of anti-fascist, left-wing protesters who have, at times, engaged in violent tactics at demonstrations. President Donald Trump and other right-wing figures have repeatedly and baselessly blamed "antifa" for violence, without acknowledging that more often than not violent acts at protests have been carried out by far-right extremists.

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