February 21, 2024



CNN
 — 

A man was arrested early Tuesday after he broke into the Colorado Supreme Court overnight and opened fire inside the building, state police said in a news release.

The preliminary investigation “confirmed a high probability” that the incident is not connected to “recent threats against the Colorado Supreme Court Justices,” the Colorado State Patrol said.

In an afternoon news release, the Denver Police Department identified the suspect as 44-year-old Brandon Olsen. He is being held for investigation of robbery, burglary and arson while the Denver District Attorney’s Office makes charging decisions, the release said.

It was not immediately clear whether Olsen had legal representation. CNN has reached out to the public defender’s office, though they maintain a policy of not commenting on criminal cases.

The break-in comes two weeks after the court ruled 4-3 to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot, finding he was ineligible to hold office under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.”

The FBI previously said it was working with Colorado law enforcement to investigate reports of violent threats against the Colorado Supreme Court justices following their ruling to remove Trump from the presidential ballot.

Tuesday’s incident began unfolding around 1:15 a.m. and ended nearly two hours later, when the suspect surrendered to police, according to the news release.

“There are no injuries to building occupants, the suspect, or police personnel,” the release said, although there was “significant and extensive damage to the building.”

The break-in was preceded by a two-vehicle crash at 13th Avenue and Lincoln Street in Denver, near the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, which houses the state supreme court.

A person involved in that crash “reportedly pointed a handgun at the other driver,” the release said. That individual then shot out a window on the east side of the judicial center and entered the building.

The suspect encountered an unarmed security guard, held the guard at gunpoint and took the guard’s keys before going to other parts of the building, including the seventh floor, where he fired more shots, the release said. He also allegedly started a fire inside a stairwell, which Denver Fire was able to extinguish, according to the police department’s afternoon update.

The suspect called 911 at 3 a.m. and surrendered to police, the release said.

The suspect’s motive is still unclear. An arrest affidavit provided by police indicated Olsen cooperated with interviews, but all of his statements are redacted.

While authorities don’t believe the incident was related to previous threats, the names of the four state justices who ruled to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot have appeared in “incendiary” posts on extremist online forums, according to an analysis of the online chatter prepared by one non-partisan research organization for US law enforcement agencies.

The analysis obtained by CNN found no specific threats to the judges. But it warned that “there remains a risk of lone actor or small group violence or other illegal activities in response to the ruling.”

The building remained closed Tuesday as officials worked to determine the extent of the damage.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Jack Forrest, Sean Lyngaas, Andi Babineau and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Brandon Olsen’s last name.