DENVER — The Denver Housing Authority said it had no choice but to evict the relatives of a mother killed by a rampaging gunman three days after her slaying because the victim was the only person listed on the lease.
Family members said 47-year-old Sandra Roskilly was standing on the front porch of her home on Friday when a man with a rifle emerged from his home and killed her. Police Chief Robert White said a police sniper shot and wounded the gunman as he shot a propane canister in an attempt to detonate it.
Police said 31-year-old Daniel Abeyta shot Roskilly and shot and wounded a second woman in her leg.
Abeyta was in critical condition and facing a first degree murder charge, KUSA-TV reported Tuesday.
The Denver Housing Authority was apologetic about Monday’s eviction of the victim’s mother and autistic son and issued a statement saying they had no choice under federal policies and regulations because the head of the household is dead.
“Under federal policies and regulations, once the head of household is no longer with us, a live-in aide no longer has rights to that unit. We understand the family is under duress, but we will be locking the unit because they have no legal rights. We know this is a very tragic situation and offer our condolences,” the agency said.
Roskilly’s mother, Doris Kessler, 70, is now sleeping on a couch at the home of one of her children. Roskilly’s autistic 18-year-old son is being kept in a facility in Pueblo but friends say he often visited his mother.
Roskilly’s brother, Dennis Campbell, says his mother and nephew were being given the boot by the city after 20 years. Kessler moved in a decade ago.
“She’s been living here 10 years and now they’re telling her she’s just a visitor and she has no rights whatsoever,” Campbell said.
Campbell said Kessler was only allowed to take clothing and papers, and had to leave all of Roskilly’s property inside. Officials said a judge will have to determine what will be done with the property.
Daniel Markin has been friends with Roskilly for 30 years. He told KMGH-TV he still has a lot of questions including how his friend wound up in a gunman’s sights.
Markin said Abeyta was upset his neighbor’s rose bushes were growing onto his property.
Because Roskilly died without a will, her personal belongings will be held by a public administrator, family members said.