Army vet beaten to death after saving two teens

Posted at 9:32 AM, Jun 29, 2017

(CNN) -- A 62-year-old veteran died saving a pair of teenagers from a brutal attack, and now he's being hailed as a hero.

James Farmer Jr. was asleep in his car in downtown Denver on June 16 when he woke up to a homeless man attacking the two teens. He stepped in to protect them. Police say the suspect, 28-year-old DeJuan Stamps, then turned his attention away from the teenagers and beat Farmer to death.

Famer was living out of his car at the time so he could find work and send money to his grandchildren and family in Seattle. His plan was to move back in September to buy a home with his fiancée.

His family remembers him as a hardworking man and beloved father figure. In addition to his fiancée and five granddaughters, he left behind a son and several siblings, nieces and nephews.

His time in the service, his family says, never left him.

"He took a oath when he joined the United States Army and promised never to leave a man behind ... He heard someone in need and risked his life to save (the) lives of those teenagers," they told CNN affiliate KDVR.

Farmer died near the St. Francis Center, a shelter that provides employment and housing services to help homeless adults in Denver get back on their feet. He was a familiar face at the center and was close with the staff and community there.

"People who know what's right, do what's right. And he was one of those people who did it. He stepped up to help. And unfortunately, it cost him his life," a shelter official told KDVR.

St. Francis held a memorial service for Farmer on Tuesday morning. The shelter wrote on Facebook that it wanted to honor his "ultimate sacrifice."

According to the Denver Police Department, Stamps' assault on the teens was an "apparent random attack." One of the victims, 18-year-old Aidan Brown, was left unconscious and had to get staples in his head.

"He surely would've died had (Farmer) not intervened," Wes Brown, Aidan's father, told CNN affiliate KMGH.

Both teenagers and Stamps were taken to Denver Health Medical Center. Farmer was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Denver police reported Stamps was found standing over Farmer and "continually striking the victim in the chest with force." Stamps rushed the officers and injured one before he was subdued. He's facing multiple charges, including one count of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault.