Martin Wirth, 58, a man described as a political activist “who had a contentious relationship with law enforcement,” shot three deputies, killing one, with the Park County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado on the morning of February 24 as those deputies visited his home with a high-risk eviction notice, according to The Denver Channel. The one deputy killed in the Park County shooting was identified as Nate Carrigan, a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who had also coached baseball and football at Platte Canyon High School.
The deputies arrived at the Wirth residence around 9:48 a.m. on Wednesday. When Wirth spotted the deputies, he walked outside onto his deck and then turned to go back inside the home. When the deputies followed Wirth inside the residence, Wirth opened fire on them with a rifle.
The deputies shot back. Wirth died when deputies returned fire.
The other two deputies shot in the shootout with Wirth were identified as Master Patrol Deputy Kolby Martin and Capt. Mark Hancock. Martin, an 11-year veteran with the office received multiple gunshot wounds to his lower extremities. His wounds were described as life-threatening and is currently listed in critical condition at Saint Antony’s. Mark Hancock, who has served 21 years with the sheriff’s office caught a grazing gunshot to his ear and has since been released from the hospital.
Wirth had had been fighting being evicted from his home for years. Deputies said they were prepared for a confrontation with the man and descended upon Wirth’s property with a total of eight deputies. ABC reported that Wirth had recently posted on Facebook “that the cops wanted him dead.”
The Denver Post described Wirth’s residence as a mountain home on three snow covered acres in the secluded Friendship Ranch subdivision in the town of Bailey where the homes are all spaced far apart from each other. Bailey is about 75 miles northwest of Colorado Springs.
Wirth, described by a neighbor as a loner who often expressed anti-government views, was arrested in 1994 for “the shooting death of another man after becoming upset during a chess game,” according to the Post. Wirth was eventually acquitted in that shooting. Police also had to visit Wirth’s mountain home over the years regarding allegedly breaking county code violations.
He foreclosed on his home loan in 1993. Police said that he’s been fighting eviction ever since.
On Wednesday evening, an impromptu vigil gathered at the Platte Canyon Community Church in Bailey. For more on the Park County shooting where Deputy Nate Carrigan was killed, see the video accompanying this article.