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Durango gunshot victim says shooter was a ‘vigilante’

Thomas Mitchell recounts events while recovering in hospital
Aug 9, 2023
Man shot in north Durango apartment; suspect remains on the loose
Aug 10, 2023
Durango police arrest ‘person of interest’ in connection with shooting

A Durango man who was shot multiple times early Wednesday recalled the events of the incident that left him hospitalized.

Thomas Jeffrey Mitchell, who is recovering in a Colorado Springs hospital, said he was sleeping when a “vigilante” entered his apartment, climbed the stairs and tried to kill him. He spoke with The Durango Herald about 18 hours after the shooting. He sounded fearful, but in good spirits.

When reached on his cellphone Wednesday night, Mitchell said he was doing “good.”

“Jesus has got my back,” he said.

He said he was shot in the hand and the back. He called the injuries “typical gunshot wounds.”

Mitchell kept referring to the shooter as a “vigilante,” but didn’t explain further.

“He was trying to kill me,” he said. “He wasn’t trying to rob me. He left my wallet and left all this (expletive) and he was trying to kill me.”

He indicated he had seen the suspect before, but he couldn’t place where he had seen him before.

“I’ll figure it out when I get better,” he said.

Mitchell said he did the best he could to defend himself.

“I tried kicking him down the stairs, just hold up my hands. I blacked out, I couldn’t see him. He used all his rounds, then he took off,” he said.

At the Durango Police Department’s request, The Durango Herald withheld publication of this story Wednesday night until an arrest could be made.

Durango police said the shooting occurred shortly after 12:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Red Cliff Apartments, 5800 Main Ave., in north Durango.

A so-called “person of interest” fled the scene and remained at large until about 9 p.m. Wednesday when police made an arrest in the 2800 block of East Animas Road (County Road 250), a short distance east of the apartment complex.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Mitchell is a registered sex offender living at the apartment. He has an out-of-state conviction in 2006 for child molestation and convictions in 2011 for sexual exploitation of a child involving videos, according to a CBI website.

The Durango Police Department declined to comment about Mitchell and had not identified the “person of interest” as of Thursday.


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