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Three High School Seniors Arrested For Fatal Rock-Throwing Incident Near Denver

Three High School Seniors Arrested For Fatal Rock-Throwing Incident Near Denver

Three High School Seniors Arrested For Fatal Rock-Throwing Incident Near Denver

Authorities announced Wednesday that three high school students had been detained on suspicion of killing a Colorado woman while she was driving just outside of Denver by throwing a large rock at her.

According to a statement from Jefferson County sheriff’s investigators, Alexa Bartell, 20, “was killed when a rock was thrown through her windshield as she was driving” north in the 10600 block of Indiana Street on April 19 around 10:45 p.m. in Westminster.

According to authorities, several vehicles, including Bartell’s, were “struck by large landscaping rocks in a spree that began shortly after” at 10 p.m. at 100th Avenue and Simms Street.

According to sheriff’s spokesperson Jacki Kelley, locating the suspects and making the arrests relied heavily on information from the public and cellular data.

“This case touched a lot of people deeply,” Kelley said. “This was a beautiful young woman with her whole life in front of her who was simply driving home, and her life was ended as a result of these acts. It was shocking to a community, and people wanted to find out who was involved.”

According to the sheriff’s report, 18-year-olds Zachary Kwak, Joseph Koenig, and Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik were all apprehended at their respective Arvada residences.

Kelley says all three are Jefferson County Public Schools, 12th graders. Three of them are enrolled in online courses, one goes to Ralston Valley High School, one to Standley Lake High School, and the third attends both, she said.

On Wednesday, it was impossible to immediately reach a district spokesperson for comment.

According to Kelley, two individuals were detained around 10:59 p.m. on Tuesday, and a third was detained at 2 a.m. on Wednesday. They all shared a home with their parents.

To inform Bartell’s family of the arrests, sheriff’s investigators called them in the middle of the night.

“They’re just grateful,” Kelley said. “They’re still suffering the greatest loss possible.”

According to officials, Bartell was killed by a rock and not by any later crash, which occurred about 20 miles northwest of Denver and 10 miles southeast of Boulder.

“The rock came through Alexa Bartell’s windshield, striking and killing her,” Kelley told NBC News on Wednesday. “The rocks that we have described in this crime series are all about 4 to 6 inches in size and about 3 to 5 pounds apiece. They’re large boulder landscaping rocks.”

Officials reported that the suspects were going in a black 2016 Chevy Silverado, but it was unclear who was driving at the time or who hurled the rock that killed Bartell.

“We believe the vehicle was traveling in the opposite direction as our victims,” Kelley said.

According to the sheriff, the three suspects were detained on suspicion of first-degree murder committed with severe disregard.

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Colorado’s extreme indifference statute is intended for offenders who aim to kill someone — not just a targeted individual — although first-degree murder is often connected with an intended victim and a motivation, according to University of Colorado clinical law professor Ann England.

“Pulling out an AK-47 and shooting into a crowd of people, then there’s no doubt that you intended to kill,” England said even if you weren’t going after a particular individual.

“Throwing a rock (and charging first-degree murder) is going to be hard. I mean is throwing a rock a known risk (to possibly kill someone)? Throwing a rock at a moving car, now that someone has died, it seems obvious, right? But before that? I’m not totally sure.”

It was not immediately known if the three men had retained or been given access to attorneys to represent them.

On Wednesday, Koenig, Kwak, and Karol-Chik’s Colorado relatives’ publicly published phone lines were unanswered.

On Thursday morning, the three teenagers were scheduled to appear in court for the first time.

According to Kelley, she can remember isolated incidents of pebbles or bricks being thrown off bridges in Colorado throughout the years but never a string of such careless behavior.

“These suspects went from place to place to place to place throwing large rocks through windshields of moving vehicles. We’ve not seen it before.”

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