An Afghanistan veteran and non-commissioned officer was shot and killed by four police officers on April 19 after he allegedly picked up a rifle and pointed it at them through a basement window, Colorado Springs Police Department officials said.
Staff Sgt. Virgill Thorpe, a cavalry scout assigned to nearby Fort Carson, was shot on a Sunday night. A woman had called police to report a domestic disturbance in which a man was armed with a rifle. Officers arrived at the 3200 block of Oak Creek Drive East in Colorado Springs at roughly 10 p.m. and spoke at the front door with Thorpe.
“There was a verbal exchange. The suspect then ran inside ... downstairs to the basement of the residence where the [reporting party] was at,” said Colorado Springs Police spokesman Lt. Jim Sokolik.
“Officers were on the outside of the residence and could see through the basement window that he picked up a rifle," Sokolik added. “He then pointed that rifle at the officers who were outside the residence, through the basement window. And that’s when the officers fired.”
All four officers fired shots. Until the coroner’s report comes back, which takes about four weeks or longer, police cannot say definitively how many times Thorpe was struck. Sokolik could also not say how many rounds were fired in total or how large the basement window was through which Thorpe pointed his rifle.
The four police officers involved in the shooting were Cpl. Joseph Somosky, Officer Eddie Nassar, Officer Kristofer Czajkowski, and Officer Charles Warren. Somosky has been with the Colorado Springs Police Department since 2002. Nassar joined in July 2019, Czajkowski in November 2018 and Warren in October 2016.
Thorpe was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries before being declared dead. The four officers involved were uninjured. All four were placed on administrative leave for six working days, which Sokolik stressed was routine and in accordance with their department’s policy.
“Patrol officers work four days on and three days off," Sokolik said. "So depending where officers were in the cycle when the shooting occurred, and it is very likely they were also on different days off patterns, they may not all be back yet.”
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigative agency for the shooting.
Thorpe, a 28-year-old combat veteran assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, joined the Army on May 22, 2012, according to his service history. His home of record is Canton, Massachusetts. He had been assigned to Fort Carson since April 14, 2016.
A Facebook post by members of Blackfoot Troop, 4th squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, shared pictures of Thorpe and said he was a staff sergeant.
“He was a great leader, soldier, friend, husband, and father," the post reads. "He will always be part of Blackfoot Troop. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
At the time of his death, Thorpe was promotable to staff sergeant, said Fort Carson spokesperson Brandy Gill. Thorpe is expected to receive a posthumous promotion to that rank, Gill added, citing his unit.
Thorpe’s brigade commander, Col. Grant S. Fawcett, called the deceased soldier a “tremendous leader and teammate" in a prepared statement.
“The Iron Brigade is deeply saddened by the loss of Sgt. Virgill Thorpe," Fawcett said. “His tragic passing is felt throughout the formation. We will continue to focus on supporting his family through this difficult time.”
Thorpe deployed to Afghanistan between May 2, 2013, and Dec. 1, 2013. His awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, the Air Assault Badge, two Army Commendation Medals, two Good Conduct Medals, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Driver Mechanic Badge for Wheeled Vehicles and the Expert Marksmanship Qualification Badge.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.