Park County Sheriff speaks about shooting for the first time

Sheriff Paul Wegener addresses the media for the first time regarding the deadly shooting.

BAILEY, Colo. — Park County Sheriff Paul Wegener addressed the media Thursday for the first time since three of his deputies were shot during an eviction that went horribly wrong.

“This was something we do on a routine basis, just like our fellow sheriff’s offices throughout the state of Colorado,” he said.

Corporal Nate Kerrigan was killed when 58-year-old Martin Wirth opened fire on him and two other deputies, hitting all three.

The deputies returned fire and Wirth was killed in the shootout.

“We did not force a violent confrontation yesterday. Mr. Wirth did,” Wegener said.

Deputies said they went to Wirth’s home on high alert because of his previous run-ins with the law, but they never expected the eviction to turn into a deadly shootout. In fact, they said in 2014 they served Wirth with a similar eviction notice and reached a peaceful resolution.

Wirth was part of an anti-establishment movement and had ties to Occupy Denver. The group posted photos of Wirth Wednesday on Facebook that expressed sorrow over his death.

“In my community, we have individuals upset about the system. So it is everywhere throughout the state. We deal with that every day in a non-confrontational manner,” said Wegener.

Wirth also posted videos to social media ranting against police, the government and unjust foreclosures.

He ran for Colorado State Senate and was reportedly involved with the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition.

They released a statement saying in part: “Martin took extraordinary efforts in the past several years to shed light on and bring an end to the mass of unjust foreclosures that have ruined the lives of so many.”

Wegener said deputies followed Wirth into his home Wednesday and believed Wirth was more likely to run away than resort to violence. But officials say Wirth grabbed a gun and started firing.

Carrigan, a 13-year veteran, was killed at the scene.

“Nathan–Nate–Carrigan was not only a longtime veteran of the Park County Sheriff’s Office, but he was also a beloved son, a brother, coach and a role model,” Wegener said, reading a statement from Carrigan’s family.

Carrigan coached football and baseball at Platte Canyon High School where he graduated in 1999.

Wegener said his loss will be felt for a long time.

“The fact that this incident happened is just beyond comprehension at this time,” he said.

The two other deputies who were shot have been identified as Master Patrol Deputy Kolby Martin and Captain Mark Hancock.

Hancock was grazed in the ear and was released from the hospital Wednesday.

Martin was shot several times in the legs and is still in serious condition. However, Wegener said Thursday that Martin is up and moving around.

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