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Colorado man who shot woman dead over dog poop row pleads not guilty, claims ‘insanity’

The suspect, who lost his job during the pandemic, also confessed that he had been sexually abused as a child by his biological parents

DENVER, COLORADO: A Colorado man, who shot dead a woman and injured her boyfriend after getting into an argument about where their dog had defecated, has pleaded not guilty to the crime “by reason of insanity”.

Michael Close, who has been charged with 15 counts including first-degree murder, was arrested on June 10 last year, the day of the shootings, and has been in custody ever since. The final determination on charges will be made by the Denver District Attorney’s Office. He entered the plea in Denver District Court on Monday, March 8.

Who is Michael Close?

On June 10 last year, 37-year-old Close opened fire on 21-year-old Isabella Thallas and her 27-year-old boyfriend Darian Simon with an AK-47 from the window of his apartment. Simon is a photographer and has done work for Westword. The shooting occurred after Close and Simon had argued over the latter’s dog defecating in a rock garden outside the suspect’s apartment complex.

“The victim related that he was walking with his girlfriend… and gave his dog the command to poop,” according to a police report. “A person yelled at him through a ground floor window, asking if the victim was going to train the dog or just yell at it.”

Simon told police that he tried to ignore the man, but noticed him pointing what Simon thought was a pellet gun at the couple, following which Close opened fire, and they ran. Thallas died at the scene while Simon managed to survive the shooting despite being struck twice in the leg. “In summary, the suspect got into a verbal altercation with the victims related to the victims telling the dog to poop,” the report said.

Close then left his Fox Street apartment and fled the scene in a Black Mercedes Benz, it added. He was booked later that day by Park County Sheriff’s Office, who had stopped Close during a routine traffic stop near Pine Junction. A pistol-grip rifle and handgun along with a gun belt and firearm magazines were found inside his car.

Chelsea Thompson, who identified herself as Close’s girlfriend, told police that her boyfriend “was not mentally stable and had not been the entire time she knew him,” a detective shared with Daily Mail.

She claimed that Close was diagnosed with personality disorder and depression but was never treated for either, and detailed his history with drug abuse as well, including excessive usage of cocaine, molly, mushrooms, ecstasy and ketamine. Close had also resumed drinking after three years of sobriety, she added.

Friends of Close spoke to the police as well. One said he received a text from Close moments after the shooting to say “Dude, I f**ked up really f**king bad, there’s no going back from this now.” The same friend told police that he planned to take Close to see a therapist on that very day after the suspect confessed that he had been sexually abused as a child by his biological parents.

Another friend told police that Close told him via text that he “just snapped”, adding that he had spent some time in a mental institution at the age of 12. Going to the gym was extremely important to Close, who had been unable to return there since he had lost his job in the pandemic.

He is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault, using a prohibited high-capacity magazine during a crime, use of a firearm, disorderly conduct and four sentence enhancers for violent crime. He is due back in court on May 10.