End of Watch – Part 2

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Patrolman Carpenter had taken a great risk in an attempt to alert the CSP Dispatcher that he was in trouble along with giving his current location on I-70 near Havana Street (see: End of Watch – 1). Yet even if the CSP Dispatcher had been alerted by these cryptic messages from Dad, any assistance would have been diverted to the interstate Dad had just exited. As Dad was forced to turn left and cross over I-70 heading north on Peoria Street, Dad was driving away from any hope of help coming from the CSP. Not only was Dad driving away from his last reported position, Dad was leaving the highly traveled traffic arteries that he was familiar with and entering into the crime ridden Denver urban neighborhood of Montebello well known to his armed kidnapers.

Montebello was located north of I-70 and northeast of Denver’s Stapleton International Airport. With multiple violent crimes reported daily, Montebello was one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the Denver metro area. Not only had the CSP agreed not to patrol the highway systems within Denver city limits, the CSP virtually never patrolled residential urban areas.

Crossing over I-70, Patrolman Carpenter drove about a half-a-mile north on Peoria Street through an area of restaurants, motels, and gas stations. At the intersection of Peoria and Albrook Drive, the armed kidnapers directed Dad to turn right and head east on Albrook Drive into an area of Montebello laden with residential apartment complexes. In this residential area, criminal activities were the norm, not the exception, and CSP patrol cars were never seen.

As if by design, only a few hundred yards after turning on east on Albrook Drive Patrolman Carpenter encountered DPD Car #218 headed westbound. Only a few minutes after his last radio transmissions with the CSP dispatcher, for the first time since his ordeal had started Dad was encountering another law enforcement vehicle. Against all odds, Dad had to be hoping that the DPD officers were responding to Dad’s cryptic alert to the CSP Dispatcher. Conversely, the sudden arrival of the DPD patrol car so soon after Dad had disclosed his position had to startle and unnerve the young armed kidnapers.

With these sudden rapid swings of emotions for both Patrolman Carpenter and his young kidnapers in the last few minutes, CSP Car #181 approached DPD Car #218 traveling in the opposite direction. As the patrol cars approached each other, the attention of the DPD officer driving was focused on Dad as he was wondering why a CSP patrol car would be in this neighborhood. Dad calmly smiled and lifted one finger from his hand on the steering wheel in a customary acknowledging wave to the DPD officers as Dad passed within only a few feet of the DPD officer driving, both traveling at relatively slow speeds.

With few exceptions, the only reason for a CSP unit to be in a Denver urban residential neighborhood would be to response to a call for assistance from the DPD.

As DPD Car #218 drove past CSP Car #181, the DPD officer noted the two very young males in the back seat of the CSP patrol car and continued to wonder why a CSP patrolman would be transporting anyone in this very dangerous residential crime area of Montebello. Yet, the relaxed composed expressions from Patrolman Carpenter along with the young age of the back seat occupants alleviated any concerns the DPD officer may have had. Assuming everything was fine, the DPD officer drove on past without a second thought. There simply had not been enough time for the CSP Dispatcher to decipher Dad’s last message and disseminate it to the DPD patrol cars in the area of the “possible need of assistance” for CSP Car 181.


It is difficult to understand why Patrolman Carpenter did not take some type of risk at this point to free himself from his armed kidnapers. Not only was this the first real opportunity since his abduction for Dad to take some type of decisive action that would not place other drivers at risk, Dad had encountered this DPD patrol car within five minutes of taking the great risk of attempting to notify the CSP Dispatcher that he was in trouble. Moreover, Dad had to have known as they entered the residential neighborhood, the kidnapers were getting close to their planned destination.

Perhaps the best explanation can be found within the perceptions of the DPD officer. Dad remained so calm and composed that the DPD officer could not sense Dad was in any danger despite the unheard-of presence of a CSP patrol car in this dangerous urban residential neighborhood of Denver. Dad had a reputation of remaining calm and focused under pressure, a peace and calmness that Christians are promised in the Bible.

As Moses proclaimed in Deuteronomy 31:6 of the Old Testament of the Bible, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them (your enemies), for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”[1] Similarly, in the New Testament of the Bible the Apostle Paul professed in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” [2]

Since the moment of his abduction, every witness described Patrolman Carpenter as remaining composed. From the moment Dad had lost control of his weapon, Dad had not panicked, had not given into fear, and retained his self-control. Dad exhibited these qualities as he negotiated his assigned patrol car through traffic, during his conversations with the CSP Dispatcher, and during his encounter with the DPD officer. Just as promised in the Bible, Dad displayed the attributes detailed in the Bible of how the presence of God would manifest in us during our greatest adversity.


It was approximately 10:10 AM as DPD Car #218 slowly passed out of sight of CSP Car #181. Patrolman Carpenter now had been abducted for approximately thirty minutes as his best and only hope for assistance drove out of sight near at the intersection of Albrook Drive and Peoria Street. Nonetheless, despite the roller coaster of emotions in the past five minutes or so, Dad remained composed. Dad continued to believe that his fate rested with his faith in God, and not in the hands the two young kidnapers.

Within a minute or two of passing the DPD patrol car, the kidnappers directed Patrolman Carpenter to turn left into The Lakes apartment complex after driving past several pedestrians and other vehicles. A large complex, the Lakes Apartments consisted of three large five-story apartment buildings next to clusters of four smaller three-story apartment buildings. After entering the complex, Dad drove slowly around the outer ring of the snow covered circular series of parking lots as the two kidnapers canvassed the area.

As Patrolman Carpenter slowly pulled around to the back of the complex, the snow was getting as deep as the axel of the patrol car. Dad was struggling to avoid getting the patrol car stuck as they approached the end of the back parking lot. Suddenly four thunderous shots were fired from the back seat of the patrol car, impacting Dad in the back of his head and his lifeless body slumped over the steering wheel. The cold-blooded murderers jumped out the patrol car as Car #181 slowly rolled forward until it stopped in the deep snow at the far end of the parking lot sometime around 10:15 AM.

Running in knee-deep snow, the two young murders quickly made their way around the back of the apartment complex into the south end of the apartments on Crown Boulevard. Despite numerous residents in the area hearing the gunshots along with several others watching two young men run from the scene, not one person would contact the police for the next 20-30 minutes. This allowed the two cold-blooded murders to find refuge in a nearby apartment with family and friends.

After watching the patrol car idling in the parking lot for at least twenty minutes, one of the residents called down to the building manager to check on the patrolman to see if he was sleeping in the idling patrol car. The manager approached Car #181 and almost opened the car door before she noticed blood splattered all over inside the car. Shocked by the realization the patrolman had been shot, she screamed as she ran back to the building and another resident notified the DPD a CSP patrolman had been shot. At about the same time, 10:45 AM, some local kids that ran to the nearby fire station to report the patrolman had been shot.

Immediately after receive the call that a patrolman had been shot, the DPD Dispatcher located and directed the nearest DPD patrol car (DPD Car #218) to respond to the Lakes Apartment complex for the reported shooting of a Patrolman. Realizing they had driven past a CSP patrol car near the reported apartment complex, the DPD officers in Car #218 rapidly responded to the scene. Next, DPD notified the CSP Dispatcher of the report at approximately 10:54 AM.

Stunned, the CSP Dispatcher quickly located the nearest CSP patrol car, Car #62, and dispatched it to check out the report and CSP Car #62 proceeded to Albrook and Peoria to “see if there is a CSP unit there”. The Dispatcher next notified his superiors of the report. Without conformation Car #181 had not responded to the accident on the Valley Highway, the CSP Lieutenant notified all CSP patrol cars:

“DPD just got a report there’s a patrolman been shot at Albrook and Peoria. I have 62 going to check on it. I don’t have any units out close to that area..he’s going to check anyway”.

Everyone at CSP was in a state of disbelief. It had been nearly six years since the last CSP patrolman, Patrolman Larry B. Enloe, had been killed in the line-of-duty. Patrolman Enloe was shot and killed on January 8, 1968, after he stopped a stolen blue station wagon for a traffic violation on Interstate 25 north of Trinidad.

Within a few minutes, CSP Car #62 notified the CSP Dispatch Office that “at Albrook and Peoria, DPD just went by, don’t see anything yet”. The CSP Lieutenant directed Car#62 to “go ahead and check around the area”. At this time, the CSP Dispatch Office started attempting to contact all CSP patrol cars assigned to patrol the Denver metro area.

CSP Patrol Car #181 was identified as the only CSP unit that had been near the reported location. Yet, that had been almost an hour earlier when Patrolman Carpenter had affirmed he would respond to an accident at 58th and the Valley Highway. The pieces were coming together and that sick feeling the CSP Dispatcher had in his that Car #181 had been in trouble was getting worse. Desperately hoping he was somehow wrong, the CSP Dispatcher made several unsuccessful attempts to contact CSP Car #181.

CSP Car #62 notified CSP dispatch that he had not “found anything yet”, adding he had been advised the actual location was about a mile east of Peoria and Albrook. At this time, Car #62 was advised that CSP Car #181 had been in the area about an hour ago and there was “no contact now” with car #181. About the same time, DPD notified the CSP Dispatcher that the DPD and the fire department had arrived on the scene. Within minutes, Car #62 confirmed it was Car #181. By 11:08, Car #62 arrived on the scene to confirm Patrolman Carpenter had been killed and “his gun was missing” (see: Aftermath and Investigation).

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Denver Post December 27, 1973: Nurse examines covered body of Patrolman Carpenter slumped over the steering wheel of his Colorado State Patrol car after 11 AM.


By sharing the harrowing details that culminated in the violent end of my dad’s life, I have divulged how my life was callously shattered and nearly destroyed when I was just a nine-year-old boy. Yet, this ruthless assassination would not be the beginning, end, or even the defining moment of my life. Now that you know how my dad’s life ended, I hope you will read on as I share how my life was instead defined by the loving lessons of faith instilled in me prior to this tragic day.

It would be this faith that would allow me to navigate through adversities and to overcome my mistakes. In shock and overwhelmed by grief, I would make two seemingly innocuous decisions. One would unknowingly set me on a destructive path while the other would save me from a life of bitterness, resentment, and pain. It would be this faith that would intercede at a decisive point in my life and allow me to find my way back from the destructive path to the path I was intended to take, the path that led to a life blessed more that I could ever have imagined!

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God bless!

 

[1] English Standard Version (ESV)

[2] Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

© C. Carpenter and Surviving December, 2017. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.
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