DENVER – An armed man in a dark suit who declared "I am the emperor" was shot and killed outside of the Colorado governor's Capitol office when he refused to drop a handgun, officials said. The governor was in his office at the time but no one other than the gunman was injured.
As state employees arrived for work on Tuesday they were met by the watchful eyes of state troopers and a new a metal detector that had been installed late Monday, a few hours after the gunfire.
Gov. Bill Ritter said officials would also review the Capitol's security and decide if it should be changed.
"We live in a country where there is just that constant tension about security versus openness," Ritter said.
Monday afternoon, the gunman had walked into Ritter's reception area. He said, "I am the emperor and I'm here to take over state government," said governor's spokesman Evan Dreyer. He was being escorted out into the hall when he produced the handgun, refused orders to put the gun down, and was shot by a member of the security detail, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said.
The man did not fire his weapon, Jackson said. He declined to say if it was loaded.
Authorities Tuesday were trying to piece together how the shooting occurred.
They were also investigating whether the man was the same person who had walked into a formalwear shop about three hours earlier and said it was "the day of the emperor's reign." The man was carrying a gun and knife in his pockets, and the store clerk called police, officials said.
Tobie Locke, a bridal manager at the Mister Neat's shop in the Denver suburb of Northglenn, said the man came in around 10 a.m. asking to rent a tuxedo and said, when asked about the occasion, "Today's the day of the emperor's reign."
"He was very nervous and sweating a lot and breathing very heavy," Locke said. "I had the impression he was going to hurt somebody."
The shooting occurred at about 2 p.m. in a hall outside the governor's offices. Four or five shots were heard, but authorities would not say how many times the patrolman on the governor's security detail fired.
Ritter said he was in the office with 10 or 11 other people and heard shots, but he would not say how close he was to the gunman. He said some of his staff members witnessed the shooting.
Officers with the Denver police department conducted a search late Monday at a home of a couple believed to be the suspect's parents. Investigators said they knew the man's name but did not release it. Police in Northglenn said in a statement that family members and an employer told investigators the man at the store was possibly delusional.
Authorities said there had been no specific threats against the governor before Monday's shooting, which reinvigorated a debate about metal detectors at the Capitol.
Metal detectors were installed at the Capitol after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but were removed the following July after lawmakers objected to making it more difficult for the public to visit.
They are usually installed temporarily during the governor's annual State of the State address in January.
Ritter said Capitol security would be temporarily stepped up while lawmakers and others discuss any permanent changes.
"We have always said this building is the people's building and the place where we conduct business, and it's the people's business. There are going to be discussions going forward about how we achieve that right balance between security and keeping it open," Ritter said.
The Democratic governor said he was pleased with the level of security he is provided.
State Rep. Edward Casso said he saw the gunman after the shooting and described him as being in his 30s or 40s, dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks.
Casso said a state patrolman told him to evacuate, adding, "I started to panic a little bit. I was just hoping that was the end of it."
The first-term Democrat said the Capitol should have metal detectors.
"It's kind of freaky someone could get that close," Casso said.