Joint Statement by the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Northglenn Police Department re Filing Decision
January 26, 2023
Brighton, CO —
Joint Statement by the District Attorney’s Office and the Northglenn Police Department On January 21, 2023, at approximately 12:11 p.m., officers with the Northglenn Police Department responded to 11738 Delaware Court on a disturbance. The reporting party stated that her boyfriend and stepdad were fighting. Upon arrival, a female and male approached the officer. The male had his hands in the air and appeared to be bleeding from a cut on his face. The male appeared scared and stated, “I have my pistol and I shot him.” The female, later identified as the victim’s mother, stated, “that’s my son, please help.” The male pointed to the location of the firearm. The officer secured the weapon and proceeded to enter the residence, where he found another female, who was later identified as the victim’s girlfriend. Inside the residence, the officer found the victim lying face down in a hallway suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim later died. The victim was identified as Angel Escobar. The male who admitted to the shooting was identified as Jacob Renteria, Mr. Escobar’s stepfather. Mr. Renteria was arrested for murder pending further investigation. Further investigation revealed that Mr. Escobar was engaged in a physical altercation with his girlfriend. His stepfather, Mr. Renteria, stepped in and attempted to remove the girlfriend from the home for her own safety and take her to her parents’ house. Mr. Escobar would not allow this, confronted Mr. Renteria, and punched Mr. Renteria in the face. The two wrestled on the ground while Mr. Escobar’s mother intervened to try and stop her son from fighting. Mr. Escobar got up and said he was going to kill Mr. Renteria. Mr. Renteria went back inside the residence. Mr. Escobar picked up a cement brick and threatened to break his mother’s car windows with it. Mr. Escobar pushed his mother down, causing her to injure her ankle as she pled with him to stop and stay outside. As Mr. Escobar entered the home, he heard the police sirens and stated, “if I’m going to go to jail, I’m going for a reason. I’m going to kill everyone.” He then physically ripped off the front storm door and entered the residence. Mr. Renteria heard his wife scream outside, so he retrieved a handgun from the case in his bedroom. As Mr. Escobar came back inside, he pushed past Mr. Renteria and said “Sorry, you’re going to have to be the first one to die.” Fearing that Mr. Escobar was going to arm himself with a gun, Mr. Renteria went back to the bedroom and retrieved his gun. Mr. Escobar came back out of his bedroom with something black in his hand and raised it. Mr. Renteria said that he was in fear for his life, thinking that Mr. Escobar was armed with a gun and fired his gun at Mr. Escobar multiple times. Mr. Renteria explained that Mr. Escobar previously threatened to kill everyone in the family a week prior and he suspected Mr. Escobar had a firearm in his possession at the time he fired his gun. The investigation revealed that Mr. Escobar did not possess a weapon at the time of the shooting. The decision to file criminal charges involves an assessment of all known facts and circumstances as well as an evaluation of whether there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial under the applicable law. Criminal liability is established when the evidence is sufficient to prove all the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, under Colorado law, individuals have the right to defend themselves or others from the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force. Therefore, to file a criminal charge, in addition to proving the elements of a crime, the prosecution must also disprove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person who committed the killing was acting in self-defense.
The death of any individual in our community is deeply saddening and Mr. Escobar's death is understandably devastating to his family and friends. The District Attorney's Office and the Northglenn Police Department, however, must follow the evidence and the lawn when determining when to file charges in a case. Following the comprehensive investigation done by the Northglenn Police Department in this case, the District Attorney's Office and the Northglenn Police Department jointly agree that no charges should be filed. The evidence supports the conclusion that Mr. Renteria was acting in defense of himself and others when he fired his weapon at Mr. Escobar. Therefore, Mr. Renteria will not be charged as a result of this unfortunate incident.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.