The man found dead with a gunshot wound inside his burning home early Friday morning has been identified as Jeremiah Lee, according to Bruce Evans, chief of the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District.
Evans declined to disclose any further details on the fire Sunday. He said more information will be available Wednesday after forensics and an autopsy come back from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
“Obviously, we want to make sure all the facts are straight,” Evans said. “We want to make sure everything is absolutely factual and documented, so that beyond a reasonable doubt, we know the sequence of events of what happened here.”
According to The Durango Herald archives, Lee is a longtime Bayfield resident. Lee became a deputy with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office about a year or two ago. He was with the Durango Police for 18 years before joining the Sheriff’s Office, reports indicate.
The CBI said in a prepared statement Sunday that it continues to investigate the fire, as well as the circumstances surrounding the death of Lee, whose cause of death has not yet been determined Sunday.
“This is an active and ongoing investigation,” CBI spokeswoman Susan Medina wrote in an email Sunday. “Information will be released as it becomes available.”
Just after 12:30 a.m. Friday, authorities received a report that a home at 6491 County Road 516, just southwest of Bayfield, was on fire. Fire crews were able to arrive within eight minutes, with the home already showing heavy smoke and fire.
Initial reports said that a man in his 50s was found inside the house with a gunshot wound, without a pulse and not breathing. Authorities pulled the man from the house, but were unsuccessful in attempts to revive him.
The man was identified as Lee, who is 42 years old. He was found dead one day before his 43rd birthday.
Dan Bender, spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, deferred all questions on the incident to CBI.
Officials with Durango Police Department did not respond to call seeking comment Sunday.
In February, Lee was named the Colorado Cattleman’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year from the La Plata-Archuleta Cattlemen’s Association.
In all, it took 19 firefighters and 12 fire trucks to put out the fire. Los Pinos Fire District and the Durango Fire Protection District also provided assistance.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis story has been corrected to reflect that Upper Pine Fire District Chief Bruce Evans provided only the identity of Jeremiah Lee.