Denver police say protest shooting suspect is not linked to political movement

Two competing protests were held in the area Saturday.

Denver investigators are refuting rumors that the suspect under arrest for a shooting that killed a man during a protest Saturday is linked to any political group.

The shooting occurred in the courtyard near the Denver Art Museum Saturday afternoon, officials said. Police initially said one victim was transported to the hospital and their condition was unknown. Denver police later said they were investigating the incident as a homicide.

The shooting occurred at 3:37 p.m. local time following a "verbal altercation," Division Chief Joe Montoya said at a press briefing Saturday evening. Two guns and a can of mace were recovered at the scene, he said.

The victim, who was identified by family members Sunday as Lee Keltner, was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

"Immediately following the incident, rumors were circulating regarding the suspect’s affiliation with a particular group," the Denver Police Department tweeted. In an update, the department tweeted that "Further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa."

On Sunday morning, the police identified the suspect as Matthew Dolloff, 30, who is being held for investigation of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting.

KUSA, the NBC affiliate in Denver, said the security guard was working for them at the time of the shooting. A producer for the station was also taken into custody, KUSA said, but later released and was not involved in the shooting.

"A private security guard who was hired by 9NEWS is the suspect detained by DPD," the station said in a statement. "It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests."

The police reiterated that Dolloff had no connection with Antifa and "was acting in a professional capacity as an armed security guard for a local media outlet" in a tweet Sunday.

"Investigators are unaware of whether the suspect is personally affiliated with any political organization," the department tweeted.

Eric Escudero, a representative from the City of Denver Excise and Licensing Department, told ABC affiliate KMGH that Dolloff didn't have a license to operate as a security guard in the city.

"If he was operating as a security guard, he was in violation of the law," Escudero said in a statement.

Montoya had said a second person who was initially taken into custody after the shooting was found to not be involved.

Two competing protests were scheduled Saturday afternoon at Denver's Civic Center Park, where the museum is located. One event, called "BLM-Antifa Soup Drive," was hosted by the Denver Communists and other groups, according to a Facebook event page. The other, dubbed a "Patriot Muster" rally, called on patriots to "stand up" and "show up" in promotional materials.

Montoya had said it was unclear whether either the victim or the suspect in Saturday's shooting was involved in the protests, which drew a large police presence to the area.

"There was a large presence because we had two groups with opposing views, and we know that can always get very tense, and there's always potential for violence," Montoya said.

ABC News' Matthew Fuhrman, Jeff Cook, and Ivan Pereira contributed to this report.

This report was featured in the Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, episode of “Start Here,” ABC News’ daily news podcast.

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