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    Ralph Barnhardt Guilty of 39 Counts for Firing at SWAT Officers

    Following six days of trial, a Jefferson County jury deliberated less than four hours before returning guilty verdicts on all 39 counts filed against Ralph Kirksten Barnhardt, 45. Barnhardt was arrested and charged for firing shots at police officers following a domestic violence assault and SWAT standoff at 12574 W. Grand Avenue, Morrison, in July, 2013.

    “We are very pleased with this verdict. The jury took their responsibility very seriously and recognized the courage and skill of these law enforcements officers who risked their lives to protect everyone on West Grand Avenue that day,” said District Attorney Pete Weir, “It is a testament to the professionalism of the SWAT team that none of the officers or neighbors were injured.”

    On the morning of July 5, 2013 Mr. Barnhardt’s estranged wife, Dawn, and their 10-year-old son went to Mr. Barnhardt’s house in Morrison following a series of text-messages in which he insisted that they go to the house to feed the dogs. His wife no longer lived at the house. They had been separated for 60 days.

    Dawn Barnhardt and their son went into the house briefly, but did not expect Mr. Barnhardt to be home. He began yelling at her and she quickly returned to her car in an attempt to leave. Barnhardt followed the child and Dawn to the car. Mr. Barnhardt leaned in over the front passenger seat where his 10-year-old son was sitting, and repeatedly punched his wife in the face, head and shoulders.

    Landscapers who were working nearby told the jury that they heard “blood curdling screams” and ran to assist the woman being assaulted. They pulled Mr. Barnhardt out of the car and he went back into his house.

    The child told investigators that he yelled as loud as he could into his father’s ear, in an attempt to deafen him and make him stop beating his mother.

    Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at 10:00 a.m. Witnesses testified that before the deputies arrived they saw Mr. Barnhardt go to his car and retrieve something that looked like a gun case and then go back into the house.

    As Sheriff’s deputies arrived they tended to Dawn Barnhardt. One deputy went to the front door of Mr. Barnhardt’s house and knocked at the door. The deputy could see through the glass window that Mr. Barnhardt was holding a semi-automatic gun in each hand. The deputy asked him to put down the guns, but he refused.

    Once aware that Mr. Barnhardt had guns and was not willing to put them down or to come out, deputies retreated and the SWAT team was activated. A trained negotiator began telephone communication with Barnhardt. Over the next four hours there were numerous conversations between Barnhardt and the SWAT negotiator. All were unsuccessful. Barnhardt continued to refuse to come out of the house and he also refused to put the guns down.

    Several times during the incident law enforcement observed Mr. Barnhardt standing in front of the large living room window, holding a semi-automatic weapon in each hand, down near his hips.

    The SWAT team's armored BearCat was put into place in front of the house, facing the front door as negotiators continued to try to convince Mr. Barnhardt to put down the guns and come out of the house. He repeatedly pointed the guns at the members of the SWAT team, as witnessed by a neighbor and officers.

    Mr. Barnhardt fired eleven shots directly at officers. One round struck the middle of the windshield of the armored vehicle. Two of Mr. Barnhardt’s bullets struck houses across the street.

    Law enforcement officers returned fire, striking Mr. Barnhardt. He was transported to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

    The jury returned guilty verdicts on April 22 on the following counts:

    • 19 counts of Attempted Murder (F2);
    • 14 counts of 1st Degree Assault (intent to cause SBI to a peace officer) (F3);
    • Attempted 1st Degree Assault (F4);
    • Menacing with a Deadly Weapon (F5)
    • Child Abuse (M2);
    • 3rd Degree Assault (M1);
    • Harassment (M3); and
    • Failure to leave premises (M1)

    Four counts of Attempted Murder were filed under the theory of After Deliberation, the remaining 15 counts of Attempted Murder were filed under the theory of Extreme Indifference. All counts name Sheriff’s deputies as victims.

    Sentencing has been set for June 5 at 1:00 in Division 3.

    Pam Russell
    DA Public Information

    April 23, 2014

    Ralph Barnhardt

    Last Updated: 4-23-2014
  • The filing of a criminal charge is merely a formal accusation that an individual has committed a crime(s).
    A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. See Colo. RPC 3.6.