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Durango shooting suspect allegedly targeted sex offender

Troy Brown, 34, arrested on suspicion of burglary, attempted murder
Aug 10, 2023
Durango gunshot victim says shooter was a ‘vigilante’

A Durango man is suspected of targeting a registered sex offender by breaking into his home and shooting him multiple times in the middle of the night, according to an arrest affidavit filed Thursday in La Plata County Combined Courts.

Troy Allen Brown, 34, was arrested about 9 p.m. Wednesday in the 2800 block of East Animas Road (County Road 250), about 20 hours after the shooting. He appeared via closed-circuit television Thursday in a La Plata County courtroom to be advised of potential charges, including felony burglary and attempted murder.

He is being held on $500,000 bail in the La Plata County Jail.

The shooting was reported around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Red Cliff Apartments, 5800 Main Ave., in north Durango.

When police arrived, they found Thomas Jeffrey Mitchell with multiple gunshot wounds.

Mitchell, 52, told police that someone tried to break into his house and kill him. He had a gash on his head and a large hole in his left hand, according to the affidavit.

Mitchell was taken to Mercy Hospital and later flown to a Colorado Springs hospital for additional treatment. He received multiple gunshot wounds, according to the affidavit.

In a brief interview Wednesday night, Mitchell said he was doing “good,” but his injuries were extensive. A spokeswoman for Centura Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mitchell’s condition.

Mitchell told police the shooting suspect “made references during the incident about him being a ‘predator.’”

According to a sex offender registry maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Mitchell has an out-of-state conviction in 2006 for child molestation and convictions in 2011 for sexual exploitation of a child involving videos.

An investigator enters an apartment where a shooting happened early Wednesday at Red Cliff Apartments in north Durango. A “person of interest” involved with the shooting was arrested later that night. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Police identified a bloody shoe print with a distinctive pattern at the scene. They also located a vehicle at the apartment complex with a leather handgun holster in plain sight.

They also found a receipt from Big 5 Sporting Goods for a pair of skate shoes. Investigators did a Google search on the shoes and found they had a similar shoe pattern to the bloody prints found at the crime scene, according to the affidavit.

The vehicle also had a prescription bottle in the center console with the name “Troy Brown” on it, according to the affidavit.

Sometime after 8 p.m. Wednesday, 911 dispatchers received a call about a man covered in blood who was on the caller’s property in the 2800 block of East Animas Road (County Road 250), on the other side of the Animas River from where the shooting occurred.

A woman told police she was startled by the man who walked onto her property. The man told her he had injured himself, “and stated something to the effect of he injured himself because a predator was going to harm his child,” according to the affidavit.

Police issued a “code red” advising residents within a 1-mile radius to shelter in place while officers searched for the alleged shooter.

Meanwhile, Durango police Detective Kathleen O’Toole contacted Brown by phone. The man was in the area of East Animas Road and willing to turn himself in, according to police.

Sgt. Padraic Ingle and Officer Dan Kellermeyer with Durango police used a drone to locate Brown, who was taken into custody without incident.

Brown’s shoes were collected as evidence, and the bottoms of the shoes appeared to match the prints found at the crime scene, according to the affidavit.

Brown owns a home and has lived in La Plata County for 12 years, according to his defense attorney, who argued for a $20,000 bail Thursday. Before arriving in La Plata County, Brown lived in Gypsum and is a lifelong resident of Colorado.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Margeson argued for a $500,000 bail, saying Brown has a lengthy criminal history including drunken driving, burglary, attempted escape, theft and disorderly conduct.

La Plata County Judge Reid Stewart said he understands Brown’s right to bail, but also understands the need to protect community safety. Given Brown’s criminal history, Stewart set bail at $500,000.

Brown declined to be interviewed by police upon his arrest.


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