Jeannie Ritter says governor receiving support after shooting | SteamboatToday.com

Jeannie Ritter says governor receiving support after shooting

Alexis DeLaCruz

First Lady of Colorado Jeannie Ritter listens to concerns about mental health care from local consumers, providers and government officials at the Routt County Courthouse Annex in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday morning.

— Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter was in the midst of touring Northwest Colorado when she first learned Monday that a gunman was shot and killed outside her husband’s office at the state Capitol in Denver.

Moments later, Ritter was on the phone with her husband, Gov. Bill Ritter. The two have talked constantly since.

“Since (Monday) we’ve just been talking, talking, talking,” she said Tuesday in Steamboat Springs. “Not only was the news rattling for us as a family, but for everyone who was in the Capitol at the time. Everyone was very shaken up.”

Instead of canceling her trip to Northwest Colorado, which includes stops in Walden, Meeker, Steamboat Springs and Craig to talk to mental health officials and community members about mental health challenges facing rural Colorado, Ritter kept her schedule. She said she had full confidence her husband was making the right decisions.

“He’s doing a great job,” she said Tuesday after meeting with a group of about 25 Routt County officials. “He’s been receiving a lot of support. He’s built for this.”

Aaron Richard Snyder, 32, was killed Monday by a Colorado State Patrol officer after police said Snyder showed a gun inside the Capitol and didn’t obey commands to surrender his weapon.

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In the aftermath of the shooting, Jeannie Ritter said her husband still feels very strongly about keeping the Capitol as open as possible without compromising the public’s safety. Metal detectors that had been used at the building after Sept. 11, 2001, were brought out of storage Monday, she said.

“He is working to ensure that the people still have that feeling that it is open,” she said.

Gov. Ritter said additional security would remain in place the rest of the week.

“When there is an incident like this, there will always be a discussion about security,” he said in a news release Tuesday. “In our democracy, there is a constant tension between security and openness. This is the people’s building. There will be heightened security in the building for the remainder of the week while we have discussions about how we maintain that balance.”

Gov. Ritter is expected to meet with legislative leaders today to begin those discussions.

While the governor tackles security concerns, his wife is expected to continue her tour of Northwest Colorado today with a stop in Meeker. The tour comes on the heels of a similar tour in Southeast Colorado earlier this month.

Jeannie Ritter has been visiting Colorado communities to meet with public officials, health care providers and members of the public to gather input about the issues surrounding mental health care. Ritter says she is a proponent of increasing mental health awareness and treatment in Colorado. At the very least, it is an unfortunate coincidence that Monday’s incident coincided with Ritter’s trip. The Denver Post reported Tuesday that Snyder had been diagnosed as delusional and was seeking professional help at the time of Monday’s shooting.

– To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com