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Neighbors react to tragedy at Highlands Ranch apartment complex

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At about 6 a.m. the morning of Dec. 31, Jani Stern was woken up by what sounded like gunshots, she said. She heard people yelling outside of her residence in the Copper Canyon Apartment complex in Highlands Ranch and footsteps climbing across her roof. Then she heard pounding on her door. It was members of a SWAT team.

“It's absolutely scary,” said Stern, 23. “You never thought this would happen in a neighborhood like this.”

Stern lives in an apartment just around the corner from Matthew Riehl, the suspected gunman who fired at least 100 rounds of ammunition at law enforcement officers, killing one and injuring four others. Two civilians, who were not in the apartment, sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the incident.

Stern has lived in the complex since September with her boyfriend and two children. She didn't know Riehl, nor did her neighbors, she said.

“I never knew his name,” she said. “He always had his windows covered.”

She describes the apartment complex on County Line Road, between Colorado Boulevard and University Boulevard, as “tight-knit.” Other residents say the complex is quiet, sleepy.

Veranika Aliaksandrava, who lives in an apartment with her young son, wasn't home when the incident happened. She said the neighborhood is generally “safe and good.”

“This,” she said, “is horrible.”

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