Two held in fatal car chase

By John C. Ensslin
Rocky Mountain News
August 29, 2005

ARVADA - Police have arrested two suspects who eluded officers early Sunday after a car chase that left one man dead and two other people injured.

The incident began just after 1 a.m. in the 9200 block of West 75th Circle when a resident called police to report that two people were trying to steal a car.

The witness, who tried to follow the suspects, said one of them fired a shotgun at the witness’ car as they drove away in the red Honda.

Arvada police spotted the stolen car at West 72nd Avenue and Pierce Street and began pursuing it southbound on Sheridan Boulevard to eastbound Interstate 76.

At that point, police said the Honda tried to head east onto Interstate 270 but collided with a Ford pickup truck and a Toyota 4Runner. The 4Runner then crossed the median and rolled into the westbound lanes of traffic.

Police said one of the five people in the 4Runner was pronounced dead at the scene, two were taken to Denver Health Medical Center, and the other two were uninjured. The pickup’s occupants were uninjured.

The two suspects ran from the crash site into a Commerce City neighborhood that is a mix of homes and businesses. Law officers from Arvada, Commerce City, Westminster, Adams County and the Colorado State Patrol searched for hours in vain for the suspects.

But around noon, just as the last officers were leaving the search area, a deputy spotted two people who matched the suspects’ description.

The pair were arrested without incident. Police said one is 16 years old. His name was withheld because of his age.

The other suspect was indentified as Matthew Wartena, 20, of Arvada. Both are being held on investigation of a variety of charges, including vehicular homicide and attempted homicide.

Arvada police spokeswoman Susan Medina said the chase was within the department’s guidelines for vehicle pursuits.

“The suspect fired upon our Good Samaritan,” she said. “So, in essence, it was an attempted homicide.”