Man found guilty of shooting dead dog walker with AK-47 in ‘rage-motivated mission for respect’

·3-min read
Man found guilty of shooting dead dog walker with AK-47 in ‘rage-motivated mission for respect’

A man has been found guilty of killing a woman and severely injuring her boyfriend more than two years ago following a dispute concerning their dog relieving itself outside the man’s apartment.

A Denver, Colorado, jury found Michael Close guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and two counts of first-degree assault, following the death of Isabella Thallas, 9News reported.

Close’s sentencing has been scheduled for 4 November, when he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison, according to The Denver Post. The 38-year-old pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity following the fatal 10 June 2020 incident.

The shooting took place in the Ballpark District in downtown Denver when Close used an AK-47 to gun down Ms Thallas, who had just turned 21. The two dozen bullets coming from the apartment window were also aimed at her boyfriend Darian Simon, according to 9News.

Mr Simon was struck twice, The Denver Post reported. While he was able to run from the scene before collapsing, Ms Thallas was struck in the back and died immediately.

Close’s legal team argued that he was criminally insane at the time of the attack, but the jury found that he was aware of his actions when he fired upon the couple as they reportedly urged their pet to defecate outside his apartment.

Isabella Thallas was killed while walking her dog with her boyfriend (Isabella Thallas)
Isabella Thallas was killed while walking her dog with her boyfriend (Isabella Thallas)

Ana Thallas, whose daughter was killed, told reporters that “we’ve been waiting two and a half years for this day and what happened in there just went by … almost as fast as my daughter was slaughtered”.

“Our lives were changed forever,” she said.

Deputy Public Defender Sonja Prins argued that Close had a mental breakdown ahead of the killing, citing his childhood experiences of trauma and abuse. She also mentioned a number of job losses, a breakup, and the pandemic as all adversely affecting his mental state in the summer of 2020.

The prosecutors argued that Close was sane at the time of the shooting. He first shouted at the couple from his window when they told their dog to “go potty,” according to The Denver Post.

Prosecutors said that the killing was a “rage-motivated mission for respect” and that the couple were unaware they were outside Close’s apartment when they urged their pet to go to the restroom.

“Are you going to just yell at that dog or train it?” Close shouted at the couple, prosecutors said according to 9News.

“Mind your own business, Rocko is a good dog,” Mr Simon responded, prompting Close to grab his weapon, prosecutors said. He picked up an AK-47 that he’d taken from a friend working as a police sergeant and began to fire when he returned to the window.

Close’s ex-girlfriend testified in court that after the shooting, he called her and said that he had “just killed two people”.

He left his home and drove into the mountains with the rifle and a pistol. He was detained later that same night going down Highway 285 in Jefferson County.

Ms Thallas’ father Joshua Thallas told the press that “there is no justice in this”.

“There are so many losses all around. Our family, obviously, Bella’s friends lost, the community lost, even Close’s family lost today because of his poor choices,” Mr Thallas added, according to The Denver Post.