ALAMOSA — The protester who last week shot a driver in downtown Alamosa says he did so to protect his wife.
James Edward Marshall IV, 27, told police that the gunshot victim, Danny Pruitt, 49, hit Marshall’s wife, Mariah Lorraine, with his pickup truck at the intersection of Main Street and State Avenue, which the couple and others had blocked June 4 to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“James said he was in fear for his wife’s safety of being run over and he fired a shot into the truck,” Alamosa Police Detective John Vasquez wrote in a police report.
Vasquez told Marshall that, in reviewing a video of the incident, he did not see Pruitt’s truck making contact with Lorraine, 26. Still, the detective reported the video does show Pruitt’s truck “inching forward toward protestors,” noting they had to “move to both sides of the truck to avoid being hit.”
That’s how several protestors at the scene have described the incident, and how events seem to unfold in the video. Marshall is an earlycareer criminal defense lawyer whose law office is at the intersection. According to the police report, he told the detective “the video could be wrong.”
He claimed to have a permit to carry the concealed Glock 43 .9 mm that the video shows him pulling from his rear waist and with which, as the affidavit indicates, he shot Pruitt in the back of the head from the passenger side of the truck. Pruitt – whose license plates identify him as a disabled veteran – appears to have stopped in the middle of the intersection when shot, then kept driving his black Dodge Ram 4x4.
He was found in his truck blocks away and unconscious.
He is on life support, still with the bullet in his head, at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.
“It doesn’t look good,” his sister, Candace, said Thursday. Marshall ran from the scene with his wife. The couple drove separately to their home on Bonney Drive, where Marshall was arrested a few hours later. By that time, his own defense attorney, Randy Canney, had arrived at the house from Salida and Marshall had changed from the jeans and a black T-shirt he wore to the protest to a lawyerly dress shirt.
The detective noticed that the beard Marshall had during the protest had been shaven, and asked Marshall why. Marshall told him that “if he was going to jail he wanted a clean shave.”
He was released from Alamosa County Jail Friday on $6,000 bail – for a $60,000 bond – apparently without an ankle monitor or restrictions about leaving the state or possessing a firearm. He is scheduled to appear in court the morning of Monday, June 15 to be formally charged with attempted 2nd-degree murder, 1st-degree assault, reckless endangerment, felony menacing, criminal mischief, illegal discharge of a firearm and prohibited use of a weapon. District Attorney Robert Willett has asked the court to issue a ruling that morning prohibiting Marshall from possessing guns or ammunition. Canney, on Marshall’s behalf, won’t oppose that request.
Earlier this week, Chief Judge Gonzales signed an order disqualifying all judges in the 12th Judicial District from presiding over the case because Marshall has appeared before them in his law practice and they might have – or appear to have – a conflict of interest. The judge has asked Colorado’s Supreme Court to appoint a judge from outside the district.
Neither Marshall nor Lorraine could be reached this week for comment about the shooting. In the meantime, flowers, two stuffed bears and an American flag have been left in Pruitt’s honor around a planter at the intersection where he was shot.
In the adjacent building just feet away, above the Milagros Coffee House, the sign outside Marshall’s law office, Marshall Law, has been removed, according to another tenant. Marshall hung his shingle there last June after having moved to Alamosa from Durango, where he worked briefly as a rookie public defender.
Pruitt is a transplant from Texas who bought about seven acres at the foot of Mt. Blanca, where he has been building a cabin for about a year. Friends and family say he spent much of the last few years fighting for custody of his pre-school aged daughter, Melody, who is currently with her mother in Texas.
Alyssa Hatcher, who says she is Pruitt’s niece, set up a Go-Fund-Me account to which donors had, as of Thursday evening, given $130,701. Hatcher has not responded to several inquiries for comment.
About Susan Greene:
A recovering newspaper journalist, Susan Greene reported for papers in California and Nevada before her 13 years as a reporter and then metro columnist at The Denver Post. “Trashing the Truth,” a series she reported with Miles Moffeit, helped exonerate five men, prompted reforms on evidence preservation and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative journalism. Greene offered her services to the Valley Courier for free. Look for more of Greene’s work at the Colorado Independent in Denver and through the Colorado News Collaborative (CoLab), a non-profit that seeks to provide in-depth investigative reporting to rural Colorado.