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Crime and Courts

New details cast doubt on Fort Collins police investigation of CSU student’s 2018 shooting death

In a newly released arrest affidavit, Colemann Carver said he tampered with the gun that killed Finnegan Daly before police were called

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The 22-year-old charged in connection with the 2018 shooting death of his roommate at an off-campus house near Colorado State University removed ammunition from the handgun and threw away beer cans before calling 911, according to a newly released court document.

The arrest affidavit for Colemann Carver, suppressed for months by a judge, states that he failed two separate polygraph tests “regarding the incident and whether he shot” Finnegan Daly, a 21-year-old student just months shy of graduation.

The three-page narrative offers new details about what led to criminal charges 17 months after the shooting, first uncovered a week ago by The Colorado Sun and The Coloradoan. But it raises even more questions about what happened the night Daly died and the troubled police investigation that followed. 

Finnegan Daly, seen here atop Mount Evans, died from a gunshot would Jan. 14, 2018, at an off-campus house near the Colorado State University campus. The 21-year-old was entering the spring semester of his senior year. (Provided by Regina Daly)

Carver is charged with prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment, both misdemeanors, and felony tampering with physical evidence. His arrest June 7 came after Fort Collins police reopened the investigation months after detectives ruled it an accidental self-inflicted shooting and closed the case without an arrest. 

The rare move to restart the investigation came in part after Daly’s family confronted the Fort Collins police chief with a glaring omission from the first case: an image posted to Snapchat by Daly that showed Carver holding the gun that killed him about 15 minutes before the 911 call at 3:27 a.m. Jan. 14, 2018. The Snap contradicts Carver’s statements to police about what happened that night, but it’s mentioned nowhere in the investigative report.

New details contradict first investigation of the shooting

The warrant for Carver’s arrest came after he gave a different timeline of events to police in an interview Feb. 19, the new court document shows. In the new interview, Carver said he drank about seven beers — not four tequila shots as he first told police — before he started to put away four guns in his room. 

Carver, who was 20 at the time,  maintains that Daly picked up a Glock 34 semi-automatic handgun and shot himself. But he admitted he posed for a couple of Snapchat photos with Daly before the incident, which contradicts his initial statements to police that Daly came into his room without warning, picked up the gun and shot himself.

MORE: A Snapchat leads police to reopen investigation of CSU student’s death and raises questions about gun violence. 

In the first investigation, Carver told police he tugged Daly’s leg to see if he was dead and then ran upstairs to wake a roommate. He made four calls to family members and took a swig of mouthwash to hide his alcohol consumption before the other roommate, Isabella Schweigert, called 911. 

The arrest affidavit adds new details about what happened next. In addition to making four calls to family, Carver removed the 17-round magazine from the Glock 34 and ejected the round from the chamber and put the gun in Daly’s lap before police arrived. He also moved Daly’s marijuana pipe from the room and cleaned up several beer cans. He believed he was going to get arrested that night, he told investigators.

Det. Siobhan Seymour, the new investigator, also conducted another interview with Schweigert, who is the daughter of Rich Schweigert, the former chief financial officer for the Colorado State University system. She admitted she concocted a story with Carver before police arrived to hide the true number of roommates living at the house. Fort Collins ordinance limits the number of unrelated occupants to three, but at least five lived at the house on Romeldale Lane. Schweigert is not facing charges.

The attorneys for Carver and Schweigert both declined to comment on the case. The next court appearance in Carver’s case is set for October.

A Snapchat image, taken by Finnegan Daly before his death in January 2018, shows his former roommate, Colemann Carver, with two firearms in his hands and one across his chest. Daly’s hand holds another handgun in the foreground. The image helped investigators reopen the case into Daly’s death. (Provided by John Bucolo)

Daly’s family troubled by new details and lingering unknowns

From the start, Daly’s family didn’t believe the initial account about what happened the night of the shooting. His family and roommates all told police he wasn’t suicidal. But it took them months to push Fort Collins police to review the case amid concerns about oversights and contradictory evidence. 

The new details don’t completely fill in the gaps. Carver’s statement about the tampering with the gun appear to contradict how police found the gun at the scene. And the fact he failed two lie detector tests about what happened only leaves the family with more questions.

John Bucolo, Finnegan Daly’s stepfather, said the new report partly “confirms some suspicions that he was lying the whole time — but it also just gets right up to the edge of saying he did it.”

Daly’s parents believe the new details indicate harsher charges are warranted and blame investigators for not collecting the needed evidence, such as a breathalyzer test on Carver and a gun residue screen on their son. Other questions linger about the four guns and the large-capacity magazine.

“This statement proves none of (Carver’s initial statement) is true, and police bought that story from him and that’s why where we are,” Bucolo said.

Moreover, Daly’s family doesn’t know why it took so long to get to this point. The family told the initial detectives about the photo and sent a copy to Larimer County District Attorney Cliff Riedel in May 2018 — well before another call from the family to Fort Collins police led to the new review in October.

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“It just raises more and more questions about the obstruction the police engaged in in the first place,” said Regina Daly, who wants to see the officers investigated.

The Larimer County District Attorney’s office and Fort Collins police would not comment on the details of the case. 

But Kevin Cronin, the assistant police chief, issued a statement defending the department’s initial investigation. “Our job is to seek the truth with professionalism and compassion, and our investigators really take this to heart,” Cronin said in the statement. “While we can’t reverse this tragic loss of life, our detectives have worked diligently to conduct a thorough investigation and gain a clear picture of what happened.”

Coloradoan reporter Sady Swanson contributed to this report.

Updated 12 p.m. Sept. 23, 2019: An earlier version of this story misstated Rich Schweigert’s title. He is the former chief financial officer at the Colorado State University system.

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