Mom of Navy vet shot dead in front of his son during Denver ‘Patriot Muster’ rally blasts killer

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Mom of Navy vet shot dead in front of his son during Denver ‘Patriot Muster’ rally blasts killer

Lee Keltner, 49, (pictured) was shot dead during a Patriot Muster rally in Denver on Saturday afternoon. Keltner's mother Carol tore into her

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Lee Keltner, 49, (pictured) was shot dead during a Patriot Muster rally in Denver on Saturday afternoon. Keltner's mother Carol tore into her son's killer in a Facebook post, claiming that he was 'murdered' because he supports police

Lee Keltner, 49, (pictured) was shot dead during a Patriot Muster rally in Denver on Saturday afternoon. Keltner’s mother Carol tore into her son’s killer in a Facebook post, claiming that he was ‘murdered’ because he supports police

The mother of a Navy veteran who was gunned down at a ‘Patriot Muster’ rally hit out at her son’s killer in an emotional Facebook post, saying: ‘The left has gone too far.’

Lee Keltner, 49, was shot dead in front of his 24-year-old son on Saturday in Denver by Matthew Dolloff, 30, an apparently unlicensed security guard contracted by Pinkerton to protect journalists for 9News.

The victim’s mother, Carol Keltner, expressed her anger and heartbreak on Facebook, claiming that her son was ‘murdered’ because he supported the police. 

‘My son Lee was at the patriot rally today in Denver,’ Carol wrote in the Northeast Arkansas Tea Party Group. ‘After the rally a person on the BLM and Antifa side went up to him said a few nasty words then shot him in the head. 

‘He was murdered because he backed the police. His 24 year old son was with him. I moved to Arkansas because Colorado got too expensive and liberal. The left has gotten out of hand.’ 

Dolloff, a registered Democrat, is currently jailed without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder. He is set to appear in court on Monday at 10.30am MDT. 

On Sunday it was revealed that Dolloff was not licensed to work as a security guard in Denver, according to the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses. 

9News said it had hired Dolloff through the Pinkerton detective agency to serve as security on Saturday outside the Denver Civic Center, where pro-police ‘Patriot Muster’ supporters faced off with Black Lives Matter and Antifa counter-protesters. 

After it was revealed that Dolloff was unlicensed, Pinkerton said that it did not directly employ him and had contracted him from another company, which it declined to name. 

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Matthew Dolloff, 30, (pictured in his mugshot) is jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder for shooting Keltner. On Sunday it emerged that Dolloff, who was hired to serve as security for 9News during Saturday's protests, was not a licensed security guard

Keltner was identified as the victim by family members who revealed the grandfather and military veteran was shot dead in front of his 24-year-old son

Matthew Dolloff, 30, (left) is jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder for shooting Keltner (right). On Sunday it emerged that Dolloff, who was hired to serve as security for 9News during Saturday’s protests, was not a licensed security guard 

A stunning series of images captured the moment Dolloff, a private security guard working for News9, shot and killed the Patriot Muster protester identified by family members as Lee Keltner. In the image above, Keltner (left) appears to slap Dolloff (right) in the face while holding a can of mace in his hand

A stunning series of images captured the moment Dolloff, a private security guard working for News9, shot and killed the Patriot Muster protester identified by family members as Lee Keltner. In the image above, Keltner (left) appears to slap Dolloff (right) in the face while holding a can of mace in his hand

A second image showed Keltner deploying mace at Dolloff, who had pulled a handgun out of his waistband. Dolloff was contracted by local TV station News9 through Pinkerton, a private detective and security agency

A second image showed Keltner deploying mace at Dolloff, who had pulled a handgun out of his waistband. Dolloff was contracted by local TV station News9 through Pinkerton, a private detective and security agency

Keltner staggers backward after Dolloff fired his weapon into the cloud of mace, striking and killing the protester

Keltner staggers backward after Dolloff fired his weapon into the cloud of mace, striking and killing the protester

Dolloff turned and looked toward the camera after shooting Keltner at 3.37pm on Saturday outside the Denver Art Museum

Dolloff turned and looked toward the camera after shooting Keltner at 3.37pm on Saturday outside the Denver Art Museum

Dolloff laid down his weapon and appeared to tell a 9News producer he was with to back away as riot police rushed at him

Dolloff laid down his weapon and appeared to tell a 9News producer he was with to back away as riot police rushed at him

Dolloff fell to his knees and immediately surrendered after fatally shooting the man who maced him

Dolloff fell to his knees and immediately surrendered after fatally shooting the man who maced him

The Denver Police Department (DPD) has said Dolloff has no known affiliation with the Black Lives Matter and Antifa group that staged a ‘BLM-Antifa Soup Drive’ counter-protest against the Patriot Muster rally. 

The shooting was captured in a stunning series of images by a Denver Post photographer, which showed Keltner slapping Dolloff and deploying a stream of mace into his face before the guard lifted his handgun and fired, sending the protester staggering backward. 

Dolloff immediately surrendered to riot police who rushed in to arrest him seconds after the gunshot rang out. 

Keltner was rushed to a hospital, where he died an hour later. His sister, Suzan Keltner, on Sunday said her nephew has been struggling to cope after witnessing his father’s death.

‘He was my brother, my only sibling,’ Suzan told the New York Post. ‘He also served our country.’  

Jay Keltner, one of Lee’s sons, also posted about the tragedy on Facebook, writing: ‘I can’t believe my dad’s gone. This will never be right #RIP.’ 

He also changed his cover photo to a video grab from the fatal incident showing his father spraying mace at Dolloff.

Jay Keltner told the Denver Post his father wasn’t a member of any group and was there ‘to rally for the police department’ as he had done so at previous protests. 

A friend of Keltner’s who spoke to FOX31 described in as ‘the guy that would give you the shirt off his back. Not just somebody who was killed in a protest’. 

The friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was unaware of Keltner being involved in any political groups. 

‘To my knowledge, in 20 years, I’ve never known him to be a racist. A proud American? Yes. But a racist? No,’ they said.  

The friend also questioned why Dolloff felt the need to shoot Keltner, saying: ‘Mace isn’t a deadly force. How can you be shot for doing that?’ 

The moments leading up to the shooting were captured in a video posted on social media, which showed Keltner engaged in a shouting match with another man believed to be with the group of Black Lives Matter and Antifa counter-protesters. 

The counter-protester, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, is heard telling Keltner: ‘F***ing mace me,’ as bystanders attempt to pull them away from each other.  

The counter-protester continues shouting as Keltner walks out of the video frame. Seconds later a gunshot rings out and Keltner is seen lying on the pavement.   

The moments leading up to the shooting were captured in a video posted on social media, which showed Keltner engaged in a shouting match with another man believed to be with a group of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters who turned out at the art museum to face off with the Patriot Muster crowd

The counter-protester told Keltner: 'F***ing mace me,' as bystanders attempted to pull them away from each other and the Patriot Muster protester stepped out of the video frame. Seconds later a gunshot rang out and Keltner was seen lying on the pavement

The moments leading up to the shooting were captured in a video posted on social media, which showed Keltner engaged in a shouting match with another man believed to be with a group of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters who turned out at the art museum to face off with the Patriot Muster crowd

In an update shared on Sunday the DPD said further investigation revealed Dolloff ‘was acting in a professional capacity as an armed security guard for a local media outlet and not a protest participant’. 

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses on Sunday confirmed there was ‘no record for an active licensed security guard now or ever’ for Dolloff, who was hired to protect staff during the demonstrations, CBS 4 reported. 

‘If he was operating as a security guard, he was in violation of the law,’ department spokesman Eric Escudero told the news station. 

‘Security guards are prohibited from carrying or using a firearm without getting an armed firearm endorsement for their license. All security guards in Denver are required to get a federal background check before they receive their license.’

Escudero added that Dolloff could face up to a year in prison or a $999 fine for the offense. 

9News confirmed that it had hired the guard through the private Pinkerton detective agency to watch over its staff during Saturday’s dueling protests between pro-police groups under the name Patriot Muster and a 

‘A 9NEWS employee and a 9NEWS contractor were taken into custody,’ the station reported, adding that the contractor – one of its producers – was deemed to be not involved in the shooting.  

‘The private security guard was contracted through Pinkerton by 9NEWS. It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests.’  

Pinkerton told 9News that it does not actually employ Dolloff but did not say the name of the company he worked for.  

‘We are in the process of still gathering information to better understand the incident that occurred in Denver on October 10 involving a contractor agent,’ Pinkerton said in a statement. ‘The agent in question is not a Pinkerton employee. Pinkerton is fully cooperating with law enforcement authorities in their investigation of this matter.’ 

Keltner, 49, owned his own custom hat-making business in Brighton called Crossfire Hats,

He also had a love for motorcycles, according to social media posts

Keltner, 49, owned his own custom hat-making business in Brighton called Crossfire Hats, his family said. He also had a love for motorcycles

In videos and photos from the incident, Keltner was seen wearing a shirt that said 'BLM' followed by an obscene phrase (pictured) that appeared to mock the Black Lives Matter movement

In videos and photos from the incident, Keltner was seen wearing a shirt that said ‘BLM’ followed by an obscene phrase (pictured) that appeared to mock the Black Lives Matter movement

Jay Keltner, the son of victim, Lee Keltner

Jay Keltner, pictured with his father Lee, said his dad was not a member of any group and had been at the rally to show his support for the police

Jay Keltner, pictured right with his father Lee, said his dad was not a member of any group and had been at the rally to show his support for the police 

Police had deployed in large numbers for Saturday’s rival rallies. When gunfire erupted at 3.37pm local time, more than a dozen officers rushed to the scene to detain the shooter. 

Dolloff still had his handgun in his grasp when riot police swarmed him with guns pointed. He was filmed falling to his knees as he dropped his weapon and raised his arms above his head. 

He was arrested, along with the 9News producer who was later cleared of involvement in the shooting.  

The victim was shot at point-blank range and was taken to a hospital where he later died, Joe Montoya, chief of DPD’s investigations division, said at a news conference on Saturday evening.

‘There was a verbal altercation that transpired at the area of the shooting,’ Montoya said. He declined to connect the gunman and the victim with the protests until the police finished their investigation.  

The DPD confirmed on Twitter that the shooting was being investigated as a homicide. 

Under Colorado law, it’s possible that Dolloff could argue that he was justified in using lethal force because he felt that he was in imminent danger. Two guns were recovered at the scene, Montoya said.

Family members identified the victim as Lee Keltner, a grandfather and military veteran (pictured)

Loved ones identified Keltner (pictured) as the Patriot Muster shooting victim on Sunday 

In videos and photos from the incident, Keltner was seen wearing a shirt that said ‘BLM’ followed by an obscene phrase that appeared to mock the Black Lives Matter movement. The shirt was partially obscured by his sleeveless military vest.   

Keltner owned his own custom hat-making business in Brighton called Crossfire Hats, according to The Sun

He shared his love for the trade in an interview with the Denver Post in 2015, saying: ‘Everything I do is custom. I do one hat at a time, I do it right for that customer, and then I move on to the next one.’

In a video from 2012 Keltner described how he was ‘keeping the West alive, one hat at a time’. 

‘I love being an artist,’ he said. ‘Creating new and different things because I do all the work myself and I do it one at a time. It’s truly special for that customer.’ 

Several friends paid tribute to Keltner in social media posts, including Laura Sanders, who described him as a ‘loving husband, father and friend’ on Twitter.   

‘Lee u always had a great sense of humor & always helped those you could,’ Sanders wrote in one post. ‘U were one of the good guys! This world is a sadder place without u my friend! Thanks 4 all the great memories & fun times! Praying 4 your family! U were an amazing friend, husband and dad! Love ya buddy!’

In another tweet Sanders wrote: ‘I will miss you forever my dear friend! Your life taken by a coward! You were an amazing husband, father and friend! I will miss our conversations and your laugh and smiling face! Rest In Peace Lee! Much love.’

Court records show that Keltner has a criminal record dating back more than a decade. His most recent brush with the law was in 2016 when he was charged with Disorderly Conduct/Fighting in Public. Before that, he pleaded guilty to violating a protective order in 2008.  

Loved ones described Keltner (pictured) as a 'loving husband, father and friend' who was always helping people in need

Keltner's mother Carol said the he was killed 'because he backed police'

Loved ones described Keltner (left and right) as a ‘loving husband, father and friend’ who was always helping people in need. Keltner’s mother Carol said the he was killed ‘because he backed police’

Dolloff is seen surrendering to police after he opened fire on the Patriot Muster supporter at 3.37pm on Saturday

Dolloff is seen surrendering to police after he opened fire on the Patriot Muster supporter at 3.37pm on Saturday

Police are seen detaining a 9News producer who was with Dolloff moments after the shooting. Investigators later determined that the producer was not involved in the shooting

Police are seen detaining a 9News producer who was with Dolloff moments after the shooting. Investigators later determined that the producer was not involved in the shooting

The victim, believed to be attending a Patriot Muster rally, was shot and killed following an argument with a security guard

The victim, believed to be attending a Patriot Muster rally, was shot and killed following an argument with a security guard

Paramedics took the victim to hospital where on Saturday afternoon he was declared dead

Paramedics took the victim to hospital where on Saturday afternoon he was declared dead

In the Twitter video recorded just before the shooting occurred, the victim and several other Patriot Muster supporters were seen engaged in a heated argument with at least one Black Lives Matter protester. 

The shooting victim (left) was seen arguing with a Black Lives Matter protester seconds before he was shot dead

The shooting victim (left) was seen arguing with a Black Lives Matter protester seconds before he was shot dead

The video began with the BLM protester shouting in the face of the soon-to-be victim, saying: ‘Shoot me mothaf***a. F***ing kill me then n***a.’ 

Another Patriot Muster supporter stepped in and pushed the BLM protester back as he said: ‘Don’t f***ing touch me n***a. Don’t f***ing touch me.’ 

The protester looked directly at the victim and said: ‘F***ing mace me,’ as the victim walked toward him holding a can of mace. 

The victim said several words that were unintelligible before eventually pulling up his American flag face mask and walking out of the frame to where the security guard was standing about 15 feet away.  

The BLM protester continued shouting at the second Patriot Muster supporter for a few seconds before gunfire erupted and the video cut off.  

Richard Johnson, who witnessed the shooting, told CBS4 he saw nothing leading up to it that was out of the ordinary.

‘I’m wondering what possible explanation there could be,’ Johnson said.

‘There didn’t seem to be any altercation, there wasn’t any yelling coming from that way, the victim didn’t seem to be advancing on him in a menacing way.

‘He is a large man. But I suspect when this all shakes out it may be something other than what we might think at first.’   

The victim (pictured on the ground after being shot) died shortly after he was shot at the Patriot Muster

 The victim (pictured on the ground after being shot) died shortly after he was shot at the Patriot Muster 

Officers rushed to the scene of the shooting and formed a cordon around the dead man until ambulances arrived

Officers rushed to the scene of the shooting and formed a cordon around the dead man until ambulances arrived

WHO ARE THE ‘PATRIOT MUSTER’ PROTESTERS?

Patriot Muster is the name given to pro-police activists who have attended rallies organized by John Tiegen, an ex-Marine and Blackwater private security guard. 

The group was formed over the summer as Denver, along with dozens of other cities across the US, was roiled by protests against racism and police brutality. 

Patriot Muster made headlines in July when it hosted a ‘Back the Blue’ rally that descended into chaos when protesters began clashing with counter-protesters. Tiegen accused the counter-protesters of throwing soup cans at his followers. 

Tiegen organized another Patriot Muster rally on Saturday at the Denver Civic Center, under the slogan: ‘Stand up, show up.’

The slogan bore similarities to President Donald Trump’s response when asked to condemn white supremacists and the Proud Boys. Instead of disavowing them he said: ‘Stand back and stand by.’ 

Black Lives Matter protesters led by the Denver Communists responded by creating their own rally in the same location, dubbed the ‘BLM-Antifa Soup Drive’. 

The ‘soup rally’ was meant to be ironic in response to Tiegen accusing leftist protesters of throwing cans. 

Tiegen foreshadowed violence at the event on Friday, telling KNUS: ‘I’m not going in there to do violence, but I’m going to be prepared to do violence.’ 

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Rival rallies – which have became a common sight in Denver over the summer – had been called for Saturday afternoon by the opposing groups Patriot Muster and BLM/Antifa groups.  

John Tiegen, an ex-Marine and Blackwater private security guard, is credited as the founder of Patriot Muster, which is comprised of pro-police activists.  

Tiegen had summoned his followers to the Denver Civic Center park for a 2pm rally under the slogan: ‘Stand up, show up.’

The slogan bore similarities to President Donald Trump’s response when asked to condemn white supremacists and the Proud Boys. Instead of disavowing them he said: ‘Stand back and stand by.’  

‘Join myself and hundreds of fellow Patriot Americans for a Muster at Civic Center Park 2pm sharp,’ Tiegen wrote on Instagram.

‘Don’t let the communists, socialist party and groups intimidate or Oppress you any longer! Come join us and be heard & seen and celebrate OUR freedoms.’

Tiegen foreshadowed violence at the event on Friday, telling KNUS: ‘I’m not going in there to do violence, but I’m going to be prepared to do violence.’

BLM-Antifa organized their own rally in the same spot, at 1.30pm – telling their supporters: ‘Counter protest the fascist rally nearby!’  

Chelsea Jacobs, a member of the Denver Communists, said that Saturday’s event, dubbed a BLM-Antifa Soup Drive’, had been organized in response to the Patriot Muster.

The ‘soup rally’ was meant to be ironic in response to comments that far-left protesters throw soup cans, she said. 

When Saturday afternoon arrived, right-leaning protesters rallied by Tiegen congregated inside the Civic Center’s amphitheater while left-leaning protesters gathered outside.  

One member of the BLM-Antifa crowd burnt the blue-colored Stars and Stripes flag used by pro-police groups, pouring lighter fluid over it and setting it ablaze at the feet of the DPD officers. 

Large numbers of officers attempted to keep the two sides apart. 

Police were not letting anyone else into amphitheater area, but by 3.30pm, the Denver Post reported, the barrier appeared to be coming down. 

Police fired what appeared to be pepper balls into the crowd, after people from the leftist group started rattling the barrier headed into the amphitheater.    

This isn’t the first time that Tiegen’s sympathizers have clashed with left-wing counterprotesters. Similar unrest unfolded on July 20 at a ‘Back the Blue’ rally organized by Tiegen.  

The protester stood in front of the police as the flag went up in flames

The protester stood in front of the police as the flag went up in flames

The moment of fire: Smoke erupts (in the top right corner) after the gunshot rang out at the protest

The moment of fire: Smoke erupts (in the top right corner) after the gunshot rang out at the protest 

A large numbers of officers, in the area to try and keep the two sides apart, then rushed to the scene

A large numbers of officers, in the area to try and keep the two sides apart, then rushed to the scene

Tiegen, the Patriot Muster organizer, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police. 

Police expected there to be trouble. In previous weeks they have asked organizers to cancel or postpone their rallies, to try and tone down tension.

Ahead of Saturday’s rallies, they issued a statement saying the department ‘respects the right to peacefully assemble’.

John Tiegen, organizer of the 'Patriot Muster' group, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police

John Tiegen, organizer of the ‘Patriot Muster’ group, said the BLM-Antifa protesters started throwing soup cans at the police

They continued: ‘Those who participate in protests, demonstrations, marches, or other gatherings, as protected by the First Amendment, are reminded to do so in a lawful manner. 

‘Individuals who choose to act outside of local, state and federal law, will be subject to citation or arrest.’ 

Tiegen is the author of the book 13 Hours, detailing the botched Benghazi raid, which was turned into a film.

Tiegen spent four years in the Marines and then several years as a security contractor with Blackwater Security on missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, he says on his website.

Tiegen then worked for the CIA on their Global Response Staff, deployed to 40 countries around the world.

He was in Libya in September 2011 when the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked, and four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, killed.

He received the Award for Heroism and Valor for his bravery that night.

Back in his native Colorado, Tiegen has carved out a career for himself as a motivational speaker.

He regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his views.

On Saturday he said his Facebook page had been taken down. 

Tiegen promoted the Patriot Muster gathering with the words: 'Stand up. Show up'

Tiegen promoted the Patriot Muster gathering with the words: ‘Stand up. Show up’

John Tiegen (left) is pictured at the Republican National Convention in 2016 discussing the 2011 Benghazi attack

John Tiegen (left) is pictured at the Republican National Convention in 2016 discussing the 2011 Benghazi attack

From left: Mark Geist, Kris Paronto, John Tiegen and actor Dominic Fumusa arrive for a special screening of 13 Hours in 2016

From left: Mark Geist, Kris Paronto, John Tiegen and actor Dominic Fumusa arrive for a special screening of 13 Hours in 2016

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