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Three High School Seniors Arrested Following a Tragic Rock-throwing Incident Outside Denver: Officials report

High School Seniors Arrested

Three high school students were detained and suspected of throwing a large rock at a Colorado woman, killing her as she drove just outside Denver, authorities reported Wednesday.

Alexa Bartell, 20, “was killed when a rock was thrown through her windshield as she was driving” north in the 10600 block of Indiana Street in Westminster at 10:45 p.m. on April 19, according to Jefferson County sheriff’s detectives.
According to officials, Bartell’s was the final of six automobiles “struck by large landscaping rocks in a spree that began shortly after” 10 p.m. at 100th Avenue and Simms Street.

Tips from the public and cellular data were important in locating the suspects and making the arrests, according to sheriff’s spokesperson Jacki Kelley.

“This case touched a lot of people deeply,” Kelley said. “This was a beautiful young woman with her whole life in front of her who was simply driving home, and her life was ended as a result of these acts. It was shocking to a community, and people wanted to find out who was involved.”

According to the sheriff’s statement, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik, Joseph Koenig, and Zachary Kwak, all 18, were arrested at their homes in Arvada.

Kelley stated that all three are 12th students in Jefferson County Public Schools. She stated that one attends Ralston Valley High School, another attends Standley Lake High School, and a third is enrolled in an online program.

A school district spokesman could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

According to Kelley, two people were arrested around 10:59 p.m. Tuesday and a third at 2 a.m. Wednesday. They were all raised by their parents.

Sheriff’s investigators called Bartell’s family late at night to inform them of the arrests.

“They’re just grateful,” Kelley said. “They’re still suffering the greatest loss possible.”

According to investigators, the rock killed Bartell, not the subsequent crash, which occurred about 20 miles northwest of Denver and 10 miles southeast of Boulder.

“The rock came through Alexa Bartell’s windshield, striking and killing her,” Kelley told NBC News on Wednesday. “The rocks that we have described in this crime series are all about 4 to 6 inches in size and about 3 to 5 pounds apiece. They’re large boulder landscaping rocks.”

Officials claimed the suspects were going in a black 2016 Chevy Silverado; it was not clear who was driving or who threw the rock that killed Bartell.

“We believe the vehicle was traveling in the opposite direction as our victims,” Kelley said.

The three suspects were arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder by indifference, according to the sheriff.

While first-degree murder is often connected with an intended victim and a motive, University of Colorado clinical law professor Ann England said that Colorado’s extreme indifference laws is intended for defendants who wanted to kill someone not just a particular person.

“Pulling out an AK-47 and shooting into a crowd of people, then there’s no doubt that you intended to kill,” even if you were not targeting a specific person, England said.

“Throwing a rock (and charging first-degree murder) is going to be hard. I mean is throwing a rock a known risk (to possibly kill someone)? Throwing a rock at a moving car, now that someone has died, it seems obvious, right? But before that? I’m not totally sure.”

It was not clear whether the three men had hired or were appointed attorneys to represent them.

Calls to publicly available phone numbers for Koenig, Kwak, and Karol-Chik’s Colorado family remained unanswered on Wednesday.

The three teenagers were scheduled to appear in court for the first time on Thursday morning.

Kelley said she can recall occasional cases of rocks or bricks being thrown over bridges in Colorado over the years, but never a series of such reckless acts.

“These suspects went from place to place to place to place throwing large rocks through windshields of moving vehicles. We’ve not seen it before.”

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