CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

3 teens arrested after Colorado driver killed by thrown rock

Apr 27, 2023, 6:00 PM

This photo provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office shows Nicholas "Mitch" Karol-Chik who ...

This photo provided by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office shows Nicholas "Mitch" Karol-Chik who is facing a first-degree murder charge. Authorities say Karol-Chik and two other teenagers are facing the first-degree murder charges stemming from the death of a 20-year-old Colorado woman who was struck by a rock that investigators say was thrown through her windshield while she was driving. (Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — Three teenagers have been arrested on first-degree murder charges in connection to the death of a 20-year-old Colorado woman, who was struck by a rock that investigators say was thrown through her windshield while she was driving.

Alexa Bartell, of Arvada, was talking on the phone with a friend when she was hit by the rock northwest of Denver on April 19. After the call went silent, the friend tracked Bartell’s location with a phone app and found the woman dead in her car, which had crashed into a field, said Karlyn Tilley, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Bartell was killed by the rock and not the crash, according to Tilley.

Joseph Koenig, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, all 18, were arrested at their homes in Arvada, Colorado, overnight Tuesday and Wednesday. Online jail records did not indicate if they have attorneys who can speak on their behalf.

Investigators believe the attack is linked to several other similar incidents in which rocks between 4 and 6 inches (10 and 15 centimeters) in diameter and weighing 3 to 5 pounds (1.4 to 2.7 kilograms) were thrown at cars in the area the night of Bartell’s death.

The attacks started just after 10 p.m. and involved at least seven vehicles. In addition to Bartell’s death, two drivers suffered minor injuries.

It’s unclear which of the teens was driving during the attacks, but all three are suspected of throwing rocks at vehicles.

Investigators say mobile device forensics and tips from the public helped lead them to the suspects, who could face additional charges.

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3 teens arrested after Colorado driver killed by thrown rock