AURORA -- In what police officers called "the worst-case scenario," four people were found shot dead at a townhome Saturday, including the gunman, who repeatedly fired at officers during a six-hour standoff. The incident happened in the same Colorado city where a shooter in a crowded theater fatally wounded 12 people six months ago.

After several hours of negotiations, during which the gunman repeatedly hung up on officers and ignored their pleas to come out of the home, Aurora SWAT officers shot at the man after he opened fire from a second-story window.

Officers entered the home to find two men and a woman fatally shot on the first floor of the home. The gunman was found dead upstairs, said Cassidee Carlson, spokeswoman for the Aurora Police Department.

Police could not confirm Saturday what type of gun the man was using or how many weapons were involved.

Police were first called to the two-story residence, located in the 16000 block of East Ithaca Place, shortly before 3 a.m. by a woman who had escaped by jumping from an upstairs back window.

The woman, who neighbors say is the gunman's wife, met officers outside when they arrived.

The woman reported seeing three "lifeless" bodies before she escaped uninjured. She later characterized her husband to police as being mentally ill, according to another police source. Police are also investigating the possibility that the gunman was using methamphetamines.

Within minutes, officers surrounded the townhome. Neighbors awoke to noises they described as "explosions" and "screams."


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"I've never been so scared in my life," said Michael Ignace, who was awakened by the sound of a police bullhorn and commotion. Ignace lives in the corner unit of the six-unit building where the shootings took place.

Authorities have not officially named the gunman, but neighbors and other sources have identified him as Sonny Archuleta, 33. The names of the dead have not been released, but multiple sources confirmed they are his father-in-law, his sister-in-law and her boyfriend.

Officers did not hear gunshots until about 8 a.m., when the gunman opened fire at SWAT officers as they, from an armored vehicle, smashed the townhome's first-floor front window. Police did not return fire, but several of the gunman's rounds struck the vehicle.

Throughout the standoff, police intermittently tried to negotiate with the gunman, who was piling furniture and possessions against the doors to barricade himself inside. The gunman answered his phone several times, Carlson said, but his conversation was unintelligible, and he sounded agitated.

Shaunna Bustios, who lives across the street from the townhome, said she repeatedly heard police officers yelling through a bullhorn or intercom system to try to coax a man down.

"'Sonny, come downstairs. Sonny, we have your wife. Sonny, come out and we'll get you the help you need," Bustios recalled police telling the man.

Jennifer Williams, who lives adjacent to the home, said she watched the incident from her garage and upstairs. She also heard police communicating with "Sonny."

"'We know you've been up for four days. What's done is done. Come out and we'll get you some help,'" Williams quoted police as calling out on the bullhorn.

Police kept asking Sonny to allow them to help "Anthony, Chris and Stacie," and urging him to come outside to speak with his wife, Williams said.

About 8:20 a.m., officers fired tear gas canisters into the home, but the gunman did not come out.

Less than an hour later, about 9 a.m., the man appeared in a second-story window and began firing at police. Officers returned fire and saw him fall back. It has not been confirmed whether the gunman died from police fire.

Throughout Saturday, investigators continued to work at the townhome, where red and silver Christmas ornaments dangled among the crumpled blinds in the shattered window. Two baseball-sized holes could be seen in one of the upstairs windows.

Authorities are interviewing the woman who escaped the home to determine what triggered the shootings. It was unclear whether there had been a struggle, and investigators have not confirmed the relationship among the four people.

According to state records, Archuleta had three previous charges for weapons offenses, including a prohibited use of a weapon in Federal Heights in 2004 and carrying a concealed weapon in Denver in June.

Archuleta's LinkedIn account says he is a freelance artist who specializes in animation, landscape design, concept art and texturing. According to the account, he attended the University of Colorado between 2007 and 2010.

For the past three years, Archuleta has helped run a boutique for infants and toddlers. Before that, he was the director of Step Up Inc., a faith-based life-skills workshop and recovery support agency that focused on overcoming hopelessness, his profile says.

His listed interests include gaming, music, talent management, graffiti art, mentoring, coaching, biblical study, Hebrew, Greek, manuscripts, autographs, history and business.

Denver Post staff writer Sadie Gurman contributed to this report.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, Facebook.com/kmitchelldp or twitter.com/kmitchelldp