- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

ARVADA, Colo. (AP) - About 4,000 people filled a church on Monday in suburban Denver to honor a sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed while trying to evict a man in the small Colorado mountain community where they both lived.

The mourners at a memorial service for Park County sheriff’s Cpl. Nate Carrigan at Faith Bible Chapel included a number of law enforcement officers from around the state as well as residents from the town of Bailey, about 35 miles southwest of Denver.

Authorities say the 35-year-old Carrigan was killed and two other deputies were wounded on Feb. 24 by Martin Wirth, 58, a political activist who refused to pay his mortgage and had previous run-ins with police. Deputies returned fire and killed Wirth.

Carrigan had a fiancee and four stepchildren and coached football and baseball at Platte Canyon High School, where he had graduated in 1999. Carrigan was also a Little League umpire.

Carrigan was the first deputy in the county to be killed on duty.

Pastor John Malito called him a “hometown hero” during the service, The Denver Post reported.

“We came here today to remember a man who risked his life every day - and risked it well,” he said.

Eight officers, including Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener, had gone to Wirth’s home in what was classified as a high-risk eviction after Wirth recently threatened law enforcement. Wegener, however, said officers did not expect the eviction to erupt in violence.

Wirth appeared on the deck of his home when the officers arrived then went back inside. The sheriff’s office said officers followed him in, and Wirth shot at them before they returned fire, killing Wirth.

Bailey was also the scene of violence in 2006 when a gunman took several girls hostage at the high school, killing one before shooting himself.

The parents of the 16-year-old girl killed then, Emily Keyes, were among the people who attended Carrigan’s memorial service.


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