Adams County Coroner James Hibbard said the investigation shifted when an autopsy revealed that Thomas P. Ciancio had been shot more than once in the head during a clash with his ex-boss, William Rex Fowler, who was also shot.
"At this time we're listing (Ciancio) as the victim of a homicide," Hibbard told TheDenverChannel.com. "We're comfortable in our findings that the injuries to Mr. Ciancio could not have been self-inflicted."
When the bloody 58-year-old Fowler stumbled from the office of Fowler Software Design into the arms of police officers Wednesday morning he was initially deemed the "victim."
The 42-year-old Ciancio, the former chief operating officer at the firm, was called the "suspect" by the Adams County sheriff's spokeswoman after SWAT officers found his body inside the building along with the lone gun.
The discovery ended a tense 2½-hour standoff with heavily armed SWAT officers surrounding the building, not knowing whether the "gunman" was still inside. Authorities used automated telephone alerts to caution surrounding residents to stay inside their homes and businesses.
Now Hibbard and sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Candi Baker said Fowler -- who remains hospitalized in critical condition -- could become the suspect in the deadly shooting.
"Over the past 24 hours, the sheriff's office was able to process the scene of the shooting, as well as interview multiple witnesses and obtain specific information concerning the gunshot wounds of Rex Fowler and Thomas Ciancio," Baker said in a statement Thursday afternoon. Then came the findings from the autopsy.
Thomas P. Ciancio was found shot to death inside the company where he used to work -- Fowler Software Design.
"Based on interviews and evidence collected, it appears Thomas Ciancio was the victim of a homicide and not the gunman," Baker said. "Rex Fowler is currently in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound to the head."
"The facts and circumstances surrounding the incident continue to be investigated. No other persons are believed to be involved in this shooting," she added.
Said Hibbard: "When you get in there and start investigating and do the autopsy you're going to find that sometimes the information will change. And in doing that you just change the focus of your investigation and concentrate on the information that you now have at hand."
The coroner would not immediately disclose how many times Ciancio was shot in the head, saying it could be critical evidence in solving the mysterious murder.
"The number of shots that are at the head are important as far as the investigation into identifying the possible shooter," the coroner told 7NEWS.
A man who worked in the office building told 7NEWS that he never heard any kind of argument or shouting before three to four shots were fired Wednesday. The worker did not want to be identified.
Thanks XenuTV for video link
...But Wait, There's More
Yep, if the story above wasn't screwy enough, there's Scientology involved (or it's a good chance you wouldn't be reading about it in this blog).
The super sleuths over at WWP have been following this story and organized a little fact list (thus far):
• Fowler Software is a WISE buisness (listed in several leaked WISE directories, also a first-person posting about interviewing there)
• Rex Fowler is at least OTVII.
• Fowler's wife Jan(et) is also a scientologist.
• Fowler's full-time senior employees are scientologists.
• Ciancio is not a scientologist
• Ciancio's family reports that the company had met financial problems and Ciancio was leaving, having reached a financial agreement with Fowler.
• Ciancio and Fowler were to meet for final payment on Ciancio leaving the business as minor partner.
• That meeting occurred. What exactly happened (other than Ciancio being shot several times in head) is unknown.
• 911 call not yet released but police have said that the as yet unidentified caller said that the shooter was a "disgruntled" former employee.
• Initial investigation was misdirected due to this call.
• Coroner confirms Ciancio is victim, police confirm only 2 people involved in shooting (Fowler and Ciancio), have not made statement on Fowler yet.
• An odd press release touting Fowler Software was put on spam press release sites on 1/1/10 (this could be unrelated or standard sci pr tech).
More to come as the facts unfold. Updates here.