A Denver police officer fired seven shots Saturday at a man armed with a machete who ran at the officer, hitting the suspect who fell to the ground.

Denver police Tuesday held a news conference to release information on the incident, which included confirmation that one of the officer’s bullets struck a vehicle, with two people inside, that was parked behind the charging suspect. No one in the vehicle was hurt.

The suspect, Heber Gonzalez, 30, remains in the hospital with critical injuries that are life threatening, said Lt. Matt Clark, of the major crimes unit, at the news conference. Gonzalez is expected to face charges of first-degree assault of a police officer, felony menacing, and possession of a weapon by a previous offender.

The officer who fired, a District Two patrolman who has been with the department since 2018, was not identified Tuesday. He has not been involved in any other shooting, Clark said, and he is on modified duty as the investigation into the shooting continues.

At 1:38 p.m. Saturday, 911 received a call from a person reporting that a man was in the area of Russell Square Park, near East 37th Avenue and Vine Street, armed with a large knife.

The District Two officer arrived quickly, in about two minutes, and was the first officer on the scene, Clark said. The  officer, in uniform and driving a marked police SUV, parked a distance from the armed man and got out of the SUV.

Gonzalez then charged at the officer, covering about 45 feet in about 4 seconds, Clark said.

The officer yelled commands for the suspect to drop the knife. He did not comply. When Gonzalez, still running, got to within about 15 feet, the officer fired.

The incident happened very quickly, Clark said. The machete the suspect brandished had a blade that was 10¾ inches long. The officer was not injured.

Both the case against Gonzalez, and the officer shooting, remain under investigation.

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