Colorado police investigate ‘possible marijuana link’ after woman is killed at Denver home while making desperate 911 call
Kristine Kirk told dispatch officers her husband was ‘hallucinating’ before he retrieved gun from household safe
Police in Colorado are investigating whether marijuana use played a role in the death of a woman in Denver, who was killed by a gunshot to the head at the end of an increasingly desperate 911 phone call.
Kristine Kirk, 44, could be heard telling Denver Police dispatch that her husband was “hallucinating” and “talking about the end of the world” before he retrieved a gun from a safe and she started screaming.
Officers were sent to the address at 9.32pm on Monday night believing they would be dealing with a domestic disturbance, but 13 minutes later a gunshot was heard over the phone, after which the caller fell silent.
Police arrived at the home in the affluent Observatory Park area just two minutes after that, and arrested 47-year-old Richard Kirk on suspicion of murder.
A spokesperson for Denver Police, Sonny Jackson, told local TV station Fox 31 that investigators were “looking at their possibly being a marijuana aspect to this particular investigation”. He refused to comment on whether or not marijuana or any other drug had been retrieved from the family’s home.
According to a statement of probable cause filed on the case by Detective Troy Bisgard, Ms Kirk said her husband had initially “wanted her to shoot him”.
Detective Bisgard, who listened to the 911 call after arriving at the scene, described how Ms Kirk said “there was a gun in the residence but that it was in a safe”.
“She said that her husband was hallucinating and he was scaring their three small children. She then said that her husband retrieved the gun from the safe and she began to scream. Detective Bisgard then heard an apparent gunshot and the victim was not heard on the call again,” the document read.
Photo of Richard Kirk provided by the Denver Police Department. Kirk is being held for investigation of first-degree murder in the death of his wife in their Denver home (AP) Detective Bisgard added that, according to one of the first officers to arrive at the home, “Mr Kirk told [him] without questioning that he killed his wife”.
Mr Jackson said that the recording of the 911 call would not be released to the public during the course of the investigation.
Vince Kirk, Richard’s brother, told Fox 31 that he hoped the incident could be explained by drug use, but added that his brother wasn’t suffering from any mental health issues and that he was not a regular cannabis user.
Local media reported that at least one of the couple’s three small children may have witnessed the attack itself, and a little boy was apparently seen being led away to a police car.
Police are investigating whether marijuana played a role in the killing (AP) “My heart goes out to those three boys and Kris’ family,” said Vince Kirk. “I hope there are some answers that come out about this. Was it marijuana? I don’t think so.”
According to the Denver Post, which reported the timeline of events based on police dispatch radio conversations, officers on their way to the home “were warned that Kirk’s wife said he had been smoking marijuana”.
Crimes that potentially involve the use of marijuana are currently under intense scrutiny in Colorado, after the state became the first to legalise recreational use of the drug this year.
According to the LA Times, last month the Denver coroner’s office linked the suicide of a 19-year-old college student to marijuana intoxication. He had reportedly eaten a cannabis-laced cookie before jumping off a balcony.
Partygoers smoke marijuana during a Prohibition-era themed New Year's Eve party celebrating the start of retail pot sales in Denver Denver Police also said an investigation had been launched to establish whether or not police should have reached the Kirk household sooner, given that the local police station is just one mile away.
The city’s police chief Robert White has blamed longer response times in recent months on budget cuts and decreasing staff numbers.
A statement from the police department said: “Any time a person dies while communicating with Denver’s emergency services, we examine the circumstances to ensure that the incident was handled properly and we look for areas to improve upon.”
Mr Kirk appeared in court on Wednesday morning, the Denver Post reported, and was assigned a public defender. As of Wednesday night, formal charges had not been filed.
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