Mother of 3 shot to death by husband while on the phone with 911, police take 16 minutes to respond

DENVER - A 44-year-old mother of three was shot to death by her "hallucinating" husband while she was on the phone with 911, waiting for police officers who took 16 minutes to arrive.

That's according to an investigation by our Scripps sister station 7NEWS. 

Police initially estimated that it took officers 12 to 13 minutes to respond Monday night to the home near the University of Denver.

The average response time for priority 1 and 2 calls was just under 7 minutes in 2012, 7NEWS reporter Lindsey Sablan found.

The Monday night call took 16 minutes.

Police officials have declined 7NEWS' request for a recording of the 911 call between the woman and the call-taker, citing the need to protect the ongoing homicide investigation and an internal affairs investigation into how police and the city's Communications Center handled the incident.

Sablan reviewed a recording of the radio communication between the 911 dispatcher, who relays the 911 call-taker information from the woman, and officers in the field. The recording was provided by Broadcastify.com.

At 9:31 p.m., a dispatcher radios to a patrol officer: "2112 South St. Paul Street on a report of a domestic violence in progress. RP [reporting party] versus her husband. [He] has been smoking marijuana."

The dispatcher adds an important note: "Advise they do keep a handgun in the house but it's not in anybody's possession."

A police report says the wife told the 911 call-taker there was a gun in the house, but it was in a safe.

Meanwhile, Kristine Kirk is telling the dispatcher that her "husband was hallucinating" and "talking about the end of the world and he wanted her to shoot him," a detective who listened to the 911 call writes in a police report.

Police say they are investigating whether marijuana use played a role in the Monday night killing of 44-year-old Kristine Kirk, whose three young children were present in the home.

The mother says her husband's rant is "scaring their three small children," the police report says.

Finally, the woman says that her husband has retrieved the gun from the safe and she begins to scream, then a gunshot is heard on the 911 recording, the detective's report states.

At 9:45 p.m., a responding officer, who is probably reading the call-taker's notes on his patrol car computer, radios to dispatch: "According to the notes he grabbed the gun, and she screamed and the line disconnected…Can we step up cover?" He's asking the dispatcher to expedite other police "cover" cars to back him up.

The officer still has not said he's arrived at the house. But the sense of urgency changes.

Several officers radio they are responding.

At 9:47 p.m., the first officer radios that he's arrived at the home.

But by then it's too late.

Police enter the home to find Kristine Kirk lying on the floor with a gunshot to her head. Her husband, 47-year-old Richard Kirk, is there, too.

An officer radios: "Need an ambulance code 10 for a party down. Possible GS to the head. We're gonna need Homicide."

According to an arrest affidavit, as a handcuffed Richard Kirk was placed in a police car, he volunteered "that he killed his wife."  He is being held without bond on investigation of first-degree murder at the Downtown Detention Center.

Sablan asked Denver Police and Communication Center officials Wednesday if 16 minutes is considered an average response time for a domestic violence call.

She also asked, "How many officers were on shift in that district at that time and if police were dealing with other calls in the area?"

Both agencies replied, "To protect the integrity of the homicide investigation and the internal investigation, we are unable to answer these questions."

"Any time a person dies while communicating with Denver's emergency services we examine the circumstances to ensure that the incident was handled properly and we look for areas to improve upon," Denver Police said in a Tuesday statement.

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