A day after a dragnet of hundreds of police failed to capture a man who had fatally shot an Aurora code-enforcement officer, SWAT officers paraded a 22-year-old handcuffed murder suspect before a phalanx of cameras in prime time Friday.
Harry Denard Williams, 22, was arrested a few minutes after 5 p.m. on the 5200 block of Victor Way for investigation of murder in the death of Rodney Morales, according to Shannon Lucy, Aurora police spokeswoman.
Lucy was standing in front of a microphone, appearing live on TV with her back to the home that Williams was in, when police escorted him from the house in a scene that became more surreal when relatives and cameramen jockeyed for good vantage points.
"Let me see him. I just want to see him," Williams' relatives said as he was walking toward them.
Denver Police Department SWAT officers had staked out the house for hours Friday while awaiting an arrest warrant.
When police learned a judge had signed the arrest warrant, they used a "sound amplification system" to order Williams out of the house, Lucy said.
Williams complied with orders and was arrested without incident, she said. SWAT officers took Williams to the Aurora City Jail, Lucy said.
Police had set up a perimeter around the house early in the day while awaiting the arrest warrant.
"We've been keeping an eye on the house," Lucy said.
Williams has a criminal record consisting of drug, trespassing and traffic offenses and is currently serving a one-year probation sentence on a drug conviction, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records.
A man shot Morales immediately after he entered an apartment building at 1:40 p.m. Thursday in the 1900 block of Clinton Street.
A massive search involving K-9 teams, an armored car, a helicopter and hundreds of police from Aurora and Denver ensued, with officers going house to house.
But the suspect slipped away.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates called the shooting "cold-blooded" and asked for community help in identifying the suspect. Numerous tips poured in Thursday night and Friday, Lucy said.
Police could offer no motive for the shooting. Code-enforcement officers enforce safety and health rules such as weed control and do not carry guns.
Mark Brooks, the manager of an apartment building on the same block, said he had talked to Morales the day before he was killed about the trash at the Clinton Apartments, so he was "coming back to check it out" on Thursday, he said.
Sherry Hinton, who lives next door to the shooting scene, said she saw Morales and a female officer taking pictures of the front of the apartment building on Thursday.
Then Hinton went inside and came back out when she heard sirens. Morales' partner, whom officials have not identified, was "hysterical, saying 'hurry up, hurry up' " as police raced to the scene.
"She was screaming and running, trying to flag down the police," Hinton said. "I think he got shot because he had a badge, and they thought he was a police officer."
Brooks said Morales had come over to his apartment complex and knocked on the door Thursday, but Brooks didn't answer because he was busy.
"I didn't answer the door," Brooks said. "If I had, maybe he'd be here today."
Brooks said he had talked with Morales 10 to 15 times.
"He was a tough guy, but he was a kind guy," Brooks recalled.
"He gave me advice and good compliments about how I was keeping the grounds clean."
Meanwhile, those who live in the apartment building where Morales was shot and other residents on the block were a bit on edge Friday morning.
Luis Quinto lives in the Clinton Apartments. Although he was not home at the time of the shooting, he said gunshots regularly can be heard in the neighborhood.
"It's scary," Quinto said in Spanish. "There's always a lot of police around here. There's a lot of violence around here, too. You hear gunshots a lot."
Liliana Villa and her family live across the street from the shooting scene. They said the event has shaken their sense of safety.
"We're worried, too, because it could happen to us, and we have a baby," Villa said.
At the Carniceria Mexicana just down the street, employee Antonia Amaro said the shooting was the talk of the day at the meat and food market.
"Everybody's asking, 'What happened?' " she said in Spanish.
The police presence Thursday frightened her son, who witnessed dozens of SWAT officers carrying rifles throughout the neighborhood, searching every yard in the area for the suspect.
"He didn't know what was going on," she said.
Alma Salas, who doesn't live at the Clinton Apartments but visits friends there, said she felt compassion for the victim's family and hoped that police catch the culprit.
"I feel for the family," Salas said. "You can't even be safe anymore. He was just doing his job."