LAKEWOOD - A police officer was killed early Friday morning after three suspects were arrested at a Lakewood home a few blocks west of Sloan's Lake, authorities say.
The three suspects were in custody at the time of the fatal shooting; it is unclear who shot the officer, said Steve Davis, Lakewood police spokesman.
Police are investigating whether the officer was killed by friendly fire, he said.
"I caution everyone. That's one scenario," Davis said. "That has not been confirmed."
"It's just like a family. These are the worst of the worst," he said. "You never want to lose one of your people."
The name of the officer, who is a seven-year veteran in his mid-30s, has not been released. The officer was the first killed in the line of duty in Lakewood's police department history, which dates to 1969.
"We're very involved in getting all the family members notified," Davis said at a 9 a.m. new briefing where he declined to give any more information about the officer. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
About 1:45 a.m. Lakewood police were answering a call of a prowler near West 20th Avenue and Fenton Street when they heard shots being fired nearby, said Ty Countryman, Lakewood police spokesman.
Several officers from Lakewood, Denver, Edgewater and the Jefferson County Sheriff's office responded. Police were searching for the source of the gunshots.
Griffin Jory, who lives a few blocks away, said he awoke around 2 a.m. and saw police officers all over the neighborhood.
"I knew they were looking for someone," he said.
Authorities heard shots fired sporadically until they were able to locate the source - a home at 1940 Eaton St.
The officers set up a perimeter around the house, Davis said.
At one point, officers saw a man fire a round from a handgun just outside the home into the air.
Jory said he heard about six gunshots around 3:30 a.m.
Police entered the home and arrested three male suspects, Davis said. Their names were not released. Davis said the three had handguns.
Dogs inside the home became "problematic," and became a new focus of attention for police, he said. He was told there were two or three pitbulls in the home.
"That was happening on top of everything that was happening," Davis said.
After the suspects were secured and brought outside the home, a shot was fired, as officers were going back into the home to secure it and deal with the dogs, and the officer, who was outside the home at the time, was shot and killed, he said.
The circumstances of the shooting are currently under investigation. At midmorning Davis said investigators were waiting for a warrant to enter the home. "We're assembling detectives and investigators from many departments" to aid in the investigation, he said.
Jory said normally the neighborhood, on the border of Lakewood and Edgewater with older homes and a few apartments, is quiet.
"It's an awesome neighborhood," he said. "Last night's gunfire is unusual but not unheard of."
Other neighbors echoed that.
Ben Orron said he heard as many as six gunshots.
"It woke me up. It was two or three - pop, pop - real quick," he said. " Then a pause, then two or three more."
Orron said he didn't realize what had happened until he went outside later in the morning.
Angel Marquez lives across the street.
"All I head was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom."
He said the noise woke up his four young children. They all huddled in the living room, too scared to look outside.
Marquez added: "It's just crazy to have that kind of crime happen out here."