Thomas Ornelas, convicted killer, gunned down after shooting trooper Eugene Hofacker

Categories: Colorado Crimes

Thomas.Ornelas.mug.shot.facebook.cropped.jpg
Thomas Ornelas. More photos and a video below.
Yesterday morning, Colorado State Trooper Eugene Hofacker stopped to help a motorist on Interstate 70 -- the sort of thing he probably did on a daily basis as part of his job. But this apparent act of kindness went south quickly. The motorist, identified as Thomas Ornelas, shot Hofacker, who's currently battling for his life. But Ornelas's is over: Hofacker's partner gunned down the man, a convicted killer who was awaiting trial for another murder try. Details, photo and a video below.

Eugene.Hofacker.jpg
Eugene Hofacker.
Hofacker's LinkedIn page notes that he came aboard at the CSP in January 2008. He's also described as a snowboard instructor at Vail Resorts, a gig he began in 2003.

Just after 9 a.m. yesterday morning, according to the State Patrol, Hofacker and a partner stopped to assist a motorist on I-70 at milepost 129, near the Western Slope community of Dotsero. But less than a minute later, the man shot Hofacker, who can be heard frantically communicating with dispatch in an audio recording obtained by 7News.

"I've got a wound to the leg," Hofacker said. "It looks like...ah...we got a lot of blood loss."

Eugene.Hofacker.crime.scene.jpg
The scene of the shooting, from 7News coverage.
Hofacker's partner quickly unloaded on the motorist, who died at the scene, and then did his best to prevent Hofacker from bleeding out while waiting for an emergency crew to arrive.

"Need ambulance stat," the partner can be heard saying at one point. "I'm losing him. I'm losing him."

Fortunately, he was wrong about this last comment. An ambulance arrived in time and spirited Hofacker to a hospital in Glenwood Springs, where, at last report, he was in critical but stable condition.

As for Ornelas, whose age is listed by online sources at anywhere between 39 and 41, he appears to have lived how he died: violently. 7News reveals that he was convicted of second-degree murder when he was seventeen, and upon his release, he continued to rack up charges ranging from assault and domestic violence to drug-related beefs.

Then, in March 2013, according to a subscription-protected article from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Ornelas was busted in relation to a drive-by shooting at a trailer park in Fruita, a community not far from Grand Junction.

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Another image from the scene.
He was subsequently charged with attempted second-degree murder, assault with extreme indifference, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, illegal discharge of a firearm and criminal mischief, 7News reports.

Ornelas was scheduled to go to trial on these accusations in September. In the meantime, however, he was free, and the aforementioned gun counts didn't dissuade him from having a gat in his possession when he pulled over on the highway -- or from using it when approached by Trooper Hofacker.

In a statement, Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol, tried to put the incident in perspective. "There is nothing routine about traffic contacts, including motorist assists," he said. "Our troopers assist motorists every day as part of our patrolling activities. All traffic contacts pose inherent risk to law enforcement on a daily basis."

Here's a larger look at Orenlas's mug shot, followed by 7News coverage.

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Thomas Ornelas.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa May 8: "James Davies, cop killed by friendly fire: Lawsuit claims death was preventable."

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52 comments
alicianna
alicianna

I do not approve of an innocent man getting shot for doing his job and I feel for him and his family, however none of you know the man Tomas was deep inside. He is one of the biggest hearted men I know and leaves behind his own family that are suffering and don't deserve the hateful things people are saying. Have some respect and have a right to your own opinions why not just keep them to yourselves. He was no saint and has a record indeed however think about why he was out on a 75k bail for attempted murder? because it was a bullshit ass case that's why, the justice system is far from good. They are letting the people know what they want to know. They aren't saying how he was such an amazing father or helped single women buy gifts for there children around the holidays. All I am saying is there is always two sides to the story and nobody knows what this man was going through. Please stop with all the hatred and ugly comments.

John Elliott
John Elliott

Dude shot a cop. Dude deserved to be shot in return. Consequences of his own stupid choices as a felon in possession of a firearm and who was already wanted by authorities for breaking the law yet again. His death is NO ONE ' S fault but his own, period. He almost took someone else with him, and THAT makes him a POS no matter how you look at it.

Julia Ornelas
Julia Ornelas

Comments of ignorant people , who only judge MY UNCLE by the color of skin , his last name and HIS PAST! The media loves stupid Gullable People not knowing the differences between lies and the truth. All you people have a past too. No matter if MY UNCLE did wrong which in this case it was wrong all around or right my whole entire family and friend's will always stand up for him and defend him from you people who dont know shit , just what the news tells you. My family is going through alot . And MY UNCLE WAS A HUMAN a person who.is allowed to make mistakes and he learned from them and made.more like anyone else , know him before you judge him and slander his name . !!He died , no.matter if.it was the right way or.not he is a person who.had.millions of people who loved and respected him , dont talk about people who.cant defend themselves low life rude ass people. I LOVE YOU UNCLE TOM AND FOREVER WILL I MISS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN MY HEART BECAUSE YOUR SO MUCH MORE THEN WHAT EVERY ONE WHO.NEVER KNEW YOU.BEFORE THIS. R.I.P THOMAS ORNELAS

Nelson Pineda
Nelson Pineda

one less dirt bag we have to maintain in jail

NotOnHisWatch
NotOnHisWatch

This pig is gonna declare war on every poor schmuck he pulls over for the rest of his career. Karma came knocking on this pig's door, he would be better off quitting the force and working as something more productive than being a violent armed revenue agent for a corrupted state.

Johnny Ornelas Sr.
Johnny Ornelas Sr.

fuck all of you people you all go buy what the news say you dont know the truth so keep your fuckin remarks to your shelf

Ritchie Rich
Ritchie Rich

Fuckin crackers never no when to shut up neither. ..

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

So if carrying guns prevents crime and protects the pistol packers as the Gun Loons are always claiming, how is it this armed cop got shot in the first place?


It certainly was NOT a "Gun Free Zone" the guntards are continually whining about.

Cory Metheney
Cory Metheney

Fuckin Mexicans they just need to be deported

markbalford
markbalford

I don't care how inefficient it is or how much it costs, no law officer should patrol alone. This trooper would probably be dead and the scumbag still on the streets if he was alone on patrol.

aportue
aportue

My husband went to college with the officer who was shot. He's a very good man. Please pray for his recovery. Thankful that the suspect will no longer be able to inflict that pain on anyone else.

Michelle Bernstein Missal
Michelle Bernstein Missal

Why the HELL was this scumbag allowed to be free on bail whilst awaiting trial, especially considering his previous murder conviction and other crimes?! This would not have happened if he was incarcerated before the trial.

John Mccall
John Mccall

Good riddance to Ornelas. You're just another worthless POS. Your parents will be proud of how you turned out. NOT!!!

stanley1
stanley1

@alicianna  Hatred and ugly comments are the only appropriate ones for a piece of shit like this. If you don't like it, feel free to take your apologist ass elsewhere and find some other sugar daddy to buy your kids' gifts.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... where -- exactly -- in the Second Amendment does it say felons can't Keep and Bear Arms?



FuckALLgangsters
FuckALLgangsters

are you for real girl? your uncle was a criminal who obviously did not care for human life. he tried to kill a police officer who pulled over to help him, and in this world we are judged by our actions. you say he was judged by his past and you are correct, but he also spent his last moments trying to take a human life. he deserved to die and the fact that you are defending him is just ludicrous. fucking idiot you are. 

crystaltears111
crystaltears111

Standing up for your Uncle is wonderful.  I am a friend of Thomas's here in Montrose,  he always treated me with respect, he was a kind man.  I am deeply sorry for you families loss.  R.I.P  Thomas the ones that matter are thinking of you, and miss you.

stanley1
stanley1

Yeah? Tell us the real "truth"....the one where he actually didn't shoot the cop, right? Fucking tool.

stanley1
stanley1

Hey, Broke Dick, lemme ask you something-How does it feel to be such a badass? I mean, I've always admired guys like you. Did you go to school for that?

stanley1
stanley1

Wow....how poetic, you uneducated piece of shit. 

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Damn Dick, was that English?  

WonkeyPotay
WonkeyPotay

@DonkeyHotay "So if I use one specific crime to define the entirety of gun-control debate, will anybody call me out on it?"

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay You pose a most interesting question.  An officer would not only have a gun, but much more training on the use of the weapon than the average gun freak.

The data suggests that the claim of increased safety from carrying a gun is exaggerated.

hopiman
hopiman

U need to get deported back to where u came from. Colorado use to b Mexico dumb fuck pink bastard. And ornelas blood has been here sense before your hick family took a boat to migrate here. Stupid ass what are u 5th generation American and don't know your bloodlines history or where u came from.

scamc1974
scamc1974

Like it or not this is part of the price of freedom.  Innocent until proven guilty.  

WonkeyPotay
WonkeyPotay

@DonkeyHotay ... why -- exactly -- would every nuance of the modern American justice system be spelled out over two centuries ago?

stanley1
stanley1

@crystaltears111  Your friend was a piece of shit with no respect or regard for others' lives. He tried to kill an innocent man with a family, and for that, he gets no respect. It's too bad assholes like you don't care half as much for fuckasses like this' victims as you do for this thug piece of shit. Fucking asshole apologists with no honor, integrity, or morality. You'll get yours one day.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@muhutdafuga ... and the ARMED partner was on scene, so it was TWO (2) armed and trained gun lovers against 1 (one) amateur.


With that much firepower, the fully-loaded Gun Zone should have been the most crime free and peaceful place on earth, if the deluded gun-loon lobby propaganda was even remotely true.





stanley1
stanley1

@jpobroncos  I doubt you're a veteran, but if you are you're a disgrace to veterans everywhere, you racist piece of trash.

stanley1
stanley1

@jpobroncos  I don't need to know your bro to know he was a piece of shit thug. Bye.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@jpobroncos @stanley1  


Jazus!  You are one stupid mofo.

You might consider going back to third grade and studying  how to spell and construct a sentence.  


Is this how you rough-tough wanna-be gangstas communicate on the street?  

stanley1
stanley1

@jpobroncos @fishingblues @DonkeyHotay  Hey Jpro…I know you're a real badass vato, ese….but look here. No one cares. Here's the deal. Your fuckin hermano tried to kill a stand up dude, doing his job, with a wife and kid at home. So you know what? I couldn't give a fuck about your piece of shit brother. He was a career criminal who had already killed someone and knew nothing else than a life of crime, pendejo. If you and your ghetto ass familia want sympathy for your murdering, no-respect, fucking asshole of a human being, go find it elsewhere. Oh yeah. FUCK YOU.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@jpobroncos @fishingblues @DonkeyHotay  


Jpo thinks he's rough and tough.

But he's really just a cream-puff.

He likes to stick out his chest and huff and puff.  

He'd shit his knickers if one called his bluff.  

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