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Armed homeowner killed by police was Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient

AURORA, Colo. — Fam­ily mem­bers have iden­ti­fied the armed home­owner who was shot and killed by Aurora police early Mon­day as Richard “Gary” Black.

Fam­ily mem­bers say he was a grand­fa­ther and Viet­nam vet­eran. They said he was try­ing to defend his home to pro­tect his fam­ily when he was shot.

“Dec­o­rated Army vet­eran Richard ‘Gary’ Black died a hero by shoot­ing and killing a naked intruder who was try­ing to kill his 11-year-old grand­son,” the attor­ney for his fam­ily, Sid­dhartha H. Rathod, said Tuesday.

“Gary was shot and killed by police while he was in his liv­ing room. It’s cur­rently unknown if police fired from out­side or inside the house. There was more than one intruder — they were strangers to the family.”

Black’s wife called 911 and described what her hus­band was wear­ing. She was out­side as police ran to the house and again described her husband’s appear­ance, Rathod said.

The Aurora Police Depart­ment has not con­firmed the infor­ma­tion released by the family’s attorney.

Black served with the 1st Infantry Divi­sion. Black earned a Pur­ple Heart and Bronze Star.

But early Mon­day morn­ing, the vet­eran was killed as a vio­lent scene unfolded at his home on Montview Boule­vard near Iola Street.

“I heard the shots. It was just that quick, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam,” neigh­bor, Steven Ponikiski said.

The Black fam­ily called police at 1 a.m. as a man broke into their home. When offi­cers arrived, they heard gun­fire then encoun­tered an armed man, later iden­ti­fied as Black.

An offi­cer shot and killed him, but when police went inside the home, they found the intruder dead on the bath­room floor, shot min­utes ear­lier by Black.

Those who knew Black are stunned.

“It’s just dev­as­tat­ing. He was very friendly, every time we seen him he’d wave,” Bethany Lee said.

Offi­cers say a child inside the home was injured by the intruder.

“The grand­kids, they had a zip line and were always play­ing in the back­yard. It’s tragic and very sad,” Ponikiski said.

While the fam­ily mourns the loss of their loved one, the Den­ver Police Depart­ment and the dis­trict attorney’s office are investigating.

Click here to read this arti­cle in its entirety at Fox 31