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Man Sentenced to 23.5 Years in Prison for Shooting Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger

Daron Marquel Ellis pleaded guilty in the November 2021 incident.

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A man convicted of shooting a national park ranger last year will serve nearly 24 years in prison, a court ruled yesterday. 

Daron Marquel Ellis, 29, received a 23.5 year federal prison sentence after he pleaded guilt to attempted murder of a federal officer in the second degree and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado revealed that

In December of 2021, a Colorado state trooper pulled over Ellis for speeding. Upon that both the vehicle and the license plate of the vehicle had been reported as stolen, the trooper asked Ellis to get out of the car. Instead, Ellis fled the scene. 

Rocky Mountain National Park rangers received information about the incident when dispatch warned them that the car was headed towards the park; a National Park Service ranger drove to the east entrance of the park and waited for the vehicle. Shortly thereafter, he saw a car that matched the description and turned on his emergency lights. Ellis attempted to bypass the ranger by driving on the shoulder of the road, but came to a stop after hitting several boulders.

The park ranger then got out of his car with his pistol in hand, and ordered Ellis and the passenger of the car to show their hands, upon which Ellis opened fire on the officer with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun. The officer was hit on the left side of his torso, but his ballistics vest protected him from serious injury.  The officer returned fire and wounded Ellis, who ultimately surrendered and was taken into custody. 

At the time of the incident, Rocky Mountain National Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson reported that the National Park Service believed that it was the first time a law enforcement officer exchanged gunfire with anyone in the park since its establishment in 1915.

“Today’s sentencing brings important resolution to the attempted murder of one of our valued law enforcement rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park and allows us to focus on healing,” said Darla Sidles, Rocky Mountain National Park’s superintendent. “We owe a great debt of gratitude to this ranger and all National Park Service law enforcement rangers who sometimes must contend with serious crimes that do not stop at the park boundary.”

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