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BOULDER, Colo. –

Perrin Dake and his 17-year-old daughter, Tanya, were traveling on Colo. 119 just outside of Nederland to go skiing early Dec. 30 when a man stopped his car abruptly in front of them.

A sheriff’s SUV, a second behind, then wedged itself between the sedan and Dake’s Volvo. That’s when a highway gunbattle started, and Derik A. Bonestroo â who was trying to escape in his Infiniti sedan after shooting 49-year-old Eldora Mountain Resort general manager Brian Mahon to death at the ski area â ended up dead in a shootout with a deputy.

“It was probably the most surreal moment of my life,” said Dake, 53, who splits his time between Nederland and Boulder.

John Seifert, the Boulder County sheriff’s deputy who may have saved the Dakes and others from what officials have said was Bonestroo’s random violence, was cleared of any wrongdoing Wednesday.

He is being called a hero by officials and witnesses alike.

Seifert will remain on paid administrative leave until the end of the month while he deals with post-traumatic stress issues, sheriff’s officials said.

“He was nothing short of fabulous,” Dake said.

Dake, who was a close friend of the slain manager and is also a friend of the deputy, said he forced his daughter to the floor of the Volvo and tried to wedge himself behind a reinforced part of the car until the shooting stopped.

“It’s scary to be so close to a gun going off that you can see the muzzle fire, you can see the smoke, you can hear the noise, you can feel the percussion against your chest and they’re all happening at the same time,” Dake recalled. “The whole thing was over in 20 seconds.”

In that brief time, he said, the deputy went from his “good friend to a hero.”

“Had John not stopped when he did, this could have been a much worse situation,” Dake said. “(Bonestroo) could have taken my daughter and myself into a hostage situation. He was looking for an advantage, and maybe my daughter and I were it.”

Seifert stopped Bonestroo at 7:33 a.m. while the gunman was trying to escape down Colo. 119 after the resort shooting.

He hit Bonestroo with at least seven bullets but did not fire the shot that killed him, according to the Coroner’s Office. Bonestroo shot himself in the head during the gunfight.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett issued an official letter Wednesday clearing Seifert, 46, from any criminal wrongdoing in the shootout.

“Seifert was justified in his use of deadly force” because the suspect opened fire at him, Garnett said.

Garnett â whose first major act as district attorney was to review the findings of a multi-agency critical incident team that was charged with investigating the officer-involved gunfight â said the voluminous report that spans thousands of pages makes clear that Seifert’s actions were in fact “heroic.”

“It really shows law enforcement in Boulder County at its absolute best,” Garnett said.

In the letter delivered Wednesday to Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, Garnett wrote that Seifert’s use of force was justified because: “He reasonably believed that it was necessary to defend himself and third persons from what was, in fact, the application of potentially deadly force by Derik Bonestroo.”

Garnett wrote that he partially based his decision on Seifert’s account, saying the deputy told investigators following the shooting along Colo. 119, “I thought I was going to get shot.”

Later, the deputy reported, “I was worried that he was re-loading; was concerned if he charged me, I wouldn’t have a lot of cover.”

The deputy was aware, Garnett said, that civilian traffic was quickly approaching the scene from both sides.

“I was concerned he could take hostages or he could just run and be a danger,” Seifert was quoted as saying in the letter. “I was concerned he was going to shoot those people driving by.”

Pelle said Wednesday that he has also reviewed the shooting investigation and has concluded that Seifert acted within the department’s use-of-force policy.

“I am proud of our officer,” Pelle said. “I do believe that if this guy had continued on, it’s hard to predict how many more people would have been hurt.”

According to a summary of the investigative report, officers at the scene of the highway shootout recovered a host of weapons from Bonestroo’s bullet-riddled sedan â including a fully loaded .357-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, a .44-caliber revolver, a 10mm Glock pistol and several magazines full of ammunition.

There were two empty 15-round Glock magazines and at least 20 spent bullet casings found near the driver’s-side door.

Police also found a bloody ax with cat hair on it, religious books and several knives.

“This guy was armed to the teeth,” Pelle said. “It appeared he was on some sort of mission. I don’t know what would have happened if he had escaped.”

The official report states that Seifert immediately removed his department-issued AR-15 assault rifle from its car holster after receiving a call about the shooting at Eldora.

When the confrontation began along the mountain highway, Seifert’s weapon jammed. The report states that the deputy â a four-year veteran of the office, an experienced firearms instructor and a member of the Boulder County SWAT team â performed a “failure drill” to clear the jam while he was being fired at.

“He knew exactly what to do and not to panic,” Pelle said.

Investigators found that Bonestroo fired at least 27 rounds at Seifert, striking the patrol car at least 11 times. Seifert fired at least 22 rounds, hitting the Infiniti at least 10 times and hitting Bonestroo at least seven times.

Pelle said he’s grateful the department decided several years ago to equip all patrol vehicles with assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and better body armor.

He said Seifert will be awarded the department’s Medal of Valor for “exhibiting extreme bravery in the face of extreme danger.”

Archived comments

Siefert acted like a true policeman/hero in this instance.It is very encouraging that this decision came out so that he can move forward with his life and rightly accept the huge credit he deserves for saving lives and protecting all of us.

Thank you, Officer Siefert!!

bringit

1/21/2009 8:22:19 AM

I am holding judgment until the cop hater’s spokesman, cake, makes a rebuttal.

bouldermeister

1/21/2009 8:31:25 AM

Its sad when folks get so twisted up in their minds that they think killing others and “committing suicide by cop” actually seems like an option.Prayers for the Boosstroo family and those he hurt.

boulder_native

1/21/2009 9:12:05 AM

Duh!

Canyonrunner

1/21/2009 9:17:28 AM

Wonder how much time and money was wasted making this decision…it took me about one second to decide.

BroncoDano

1/21/2009 9:22:50 AM

Was there any doubt that when cops investigate another cop’s actions the verdict would be “justified”?

In this particular case it does seem justified, but the fact that all investigations come back as “justified,” no matter what the situation, taints this cop’s heroic actions.

Bing987

1/21/2009 9:37:38 AM

come now… there HAS to be some anarchists in Boulder who are devising some reason why this mad dog murderer should not have been shot by the police…… come now…. the sane among us are waiting……

anyeslc@aol.com

1/21/2009 9:40:08 AM

Officer Seifert,

Thank you for your heroic actions.It is gratifying to have this report, and to know that you are back where you belong…protecting me and my family from the likes of Bonestroo.

kag@guytons.net

1/21/2009 10:11:25 AM

Should Mentally Ill People be Allowed to Possess Firearms ?

TheJournalist

1/21/2009 12:00:36 PM

And you, “TheJournalist”, are the arbiter of who is “mentally ill” and who is not?

There are many restrictions already.

Derik Bonestroo was not born behaving the way he did the day that he died. I don’t know if he suffered from schizophrenia, but it is common for it to develop in the early twenties. My point is that he may not have been exhibiting symptoms, when he purchased the guns.

Some would trade liberty for the illusion of safety, abdicating personal responsibility.

chartguy

1/21/2009 12:17:16 PM

So you support Mentally Ill people being allowed to Possess Firearms, eh?

TheJournalist

1/21/2009 1:44:53 PM

Better details on what happened at DenverPost.com

fardila@hotmail.com

1/21/2009 2:15:00 PM

” Do you have no history of mental illness”

” NO “

” Here’s your firearm “

Other than a background check what can you do ?Would a background check even state a mental illness ?

jbird

1/21/2009 2:37:57 PM

correction – that should be do you have any history of mental illness…

jbird

1/21/2009 2:38:53 PM

Read a (long) executive summary of the full report at the sheriff’s site:http://www.bouldercounty.org/newsroom/templates/?a=1507&z=2

klmarkey@comcast.net

1/21/2009 2:42:29 PM

Apparently, most of you have never bought a handgun. One of the questions is if you have ever been treated for a mental illness. Granted, this is not foolproof, but what more can you do in a free society? Freedom comes with risks.

Dunkterfunk

1/21/2009 4:20:50 PM

ATF Form 4473

Question 11

e. Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance ?

=======

So besides supporting the position that Mentally Ill people should be allowed to Possess Firearms, you’d also support drug addicts being able to purchase and possess firearms ?

TheJournalist

1/21/2009 4:25:06 PM

Should mentally ill people be able to post on this site?

fyreman911

1/21/2009 5:02:34 PM

Officer Siefert is a hero, as well as a sharp shot. As a Nederlander, I am thankful to have him as a public servant here in the community. Not only that, he is also a super-nice, stand-up guy. Thanks, John!

apf

1/21/2009 5:30:30 PM

Way to go officer Siefert. Thanks for protecting our community from a crazed gunman. I hope you get a medal of valor or some official recognition from Boulder County. Great job!

dannyboyboulder@yahoo.com

1/21/2009 5:55:48 PM

Bing—Aye Laddie, ye didn’t disappoint me.I knew ye would post with a raised eyebrow and a cynic’s retort.Ye cannot trust them coppers boy, doncha know??!They are all after me arse, an lookin for any excuse to fry me.

rasinden57@hotmail.com

1/21/2009 10:21:27 PM

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