The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Thursday that evidence suggests La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jeremiah Lee, who was found dead inside a burning home, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith oversaw an autopsy conducted this week.
“Smith indicated that there is evidence of a probable self-inflicted gunshot wound, but the final cause of death for Jeremiah Lee will not be determined until lab testing is completed in four to six weeks,” a news release said.
A final ruling on the cause of death is expected to take up to six weeks.
Lee, 42, was a longtime Bayfield resident who had spent nearly 20 years in law enforcement, mostly with the Durango Police Department. About two years ago, he joined the Sheriff’s Office.
Earlier this week, the Sheriff’s Office said Lee was under investigation for a “personal situation in his life” that he had reported to authorities. Lee resigned Oct. 10, yet the investigation had not yet been completed.
Around 9 p.m. Oct. 12, Sheriff Sean Smith sent a member of the Crisis Intervention Team to check on Lee. The conversation reportedly went well, according to a statement.
Hours later, Lee’s home at 6419 County Road 516, just outside downtown Bayfield, was reported to be on fire. Authorities arrived to find Lee inside, unresponsive and without a pulse.
He died one day before his 43rd birthday.
“Jeremiah Lee ... will be deeply missed by all those that knew him,” the Sheriff’s Office said in an earlier statement. “Jeremiah was a father, a son, a brother, a friend, and a law enforcement officer that served his community for 20 years.”
CBI continues to investigate the cause of the fire, as well as the circumstances surrounding Lee’s death, the bureau said.