Security guard jailed in connection with deadly shooting at Denver protests

A man in a U.S. flag mask sprays Mace at a person pointing a handgun at him
A man sprays Mace, left, at another man who would then open fire, killing the person spraying the Mace during protests Saturday in a Denver park.
(Helen H. Richardson / Denver Post)

A private security guard working for a local TV station was jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder in the deadly shooting of another man during dueling right- and left-wing protests in downtown Denver, police said Sunday.

Matthew Dolloff, 30, was taken into custody in connection with the shooting Saturday afternoon in Civic Center Park.

A man participating in what was billed as a Patriot Rally slapped and sprayed Mace at a man who appeared to be Dolloff, the Denver Post reported, based on its photographs from the scene. The man drew a gun from his waistband and shot the other person, according to the Denver Post journalist who witnessed the incident.

Armed right-wing groups are registering as poll watchers and planning to monitor voting places during the presidential election.

The shooting victim was not named by authorities and died at a nearby hospital. But his son identified the man Sunday to the Denver Post as Lee Keltner, a 49-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who operated a hat-making business in the Denver area.


“He wasn’t a part of any group,” Johnathon Keltner told the newspaper. “He was there to rally for the Police Department, and he’d been down there before rallying for the Police Department.”

A woman who said she was the victim’s mother, Carol Keltner, wrote in a social media post that her son was killed when he was shot in the head.

A decision on any charges will be up to the Denver district attorney’s office, police said. A representative for Dist. Atty. Beth McCann said Sunday that the arrest affidavit in the case remained sealed and referred further questions to the police.

It was not immediately clear whether Dolloff had an attorney.

Division Chief Joe Montoya of the Denver Police Department said two guns were found at the scene, as well as a Mace can.

The shooting occurred beneath a city surveillance camera, and police said they have footage of the incident, KUSA-TV Channel 9 in Denver reported.

KUSA said it had hired the guard through the Pinkerton security firm. “It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests,” the station said.

The right-wing Patriot Rally was one of two demonstrations happening about the same time that drew hundreds of people to the park. Protesters at what was called a BLM-Antifa Soup Drive nearby held up flags and signs railing against Nazis and white supremacists.

Security guards in Denver are supposed to be licensed, with additional endorsements needed to carry a firearm or operate in plainclothes, according to rules for the industry adopted by the city in 2018.

In photos from Saturday’s shooting, Dolloff did not appear to be in uniform. His name does not show up on a city-run database that lists several thousand licensed security guards.

Representatives of Pinkerton did not immediately return email and telephone messages for comment.