Death of Breckenridge man ruled a homicide

BRECKENRIDGE — The death of 29-year-old Brendan Rye, who died following a fight in Breckenridge late last year, has been ruled a homicide by strangulation.

At about 9:45 p.m. Nov. 6, officers with the Breckenridge Police Department responded to a report of gunshots in the 1000 block of Grandview Drive. On scene, officers discovered two men with serious injuries, including Rye, a recent Florida transplant who later died at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.

The other man, 35-year-old Miles Tovar, was shot in the right thigh. He was transported to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco and was released the next day.

The altercation between roommates apparently began after a night of drinking, according to the Summit County Coroner’s report of the incident. In the report, Tovar told officials he was standing outside the doorway of the master bedroom at the residence and that Rye was inside the bedroom when a physical altercation started. The origin of the fight isn’t made clear in the report.

Tovar continued to tell officials that he heard a “loud bang,” felt pain in his leg and noticed that it got wet. He said he had Rye in a headlock and that he heard another bang as the two wrestled to the ground. Tovar said he continued to hold Rye on the floor until he was no longer moving.

According to the report, Tovar said he called for their other roommate to come in and help. When he came into the room, Rye was unconscious and not breathing. The other roommate called 911 and began CPR.

Emergency medical responders arrived on scene shortly thereafter. Rye was transported via Flight for Life to Lakewood, where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m. Nov. 7.

The manner of death was classified as a homicide, and the cause of death was manual strangulation, according to the coroner’s report.

In the report, Tovar maintained the strangulation of Rye was in self-defense.

No arrests have been made in the case, according to the Breckenridge Police Department. In an email exchange with the Summit Daily News, Breckenridge Chief Jim Baird said investigators still are waiting on lab analysis of some evidentiary items before things move forward.

Baird also noted that Tovar has been cooperating in the investigation, and he said he anticipates the investigation will be complete in the next 30-60 days. 

Similarly, Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said he’s pleased with how the complicated investigation has unfolded so far and urged community members to show patience as officials continue to work through details.

“I’m very satisfied in terms of the dedication that’s been shown by law enforcement in this case,” Brown said. “They’re doing everything possible in order to reconcile the information with a clear understanding of what transpired inside the house. …

“In order to charge anybody with a crime, we have to have a sense of certainty in terms of probable cause that a crime was committed. We are continuing to consider every factual possibility and develop every conclusion that the evidence will reveal. … This clearly was a death by a violent act. We don’t have a lot of those in Summit County, thankfully. But we take every person’s unnatural passing extraordinarily seriously. There’s no other type of crime that’s a higher priority.”

A history of arrests

Tovar has a history of criminal activity in the area. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence along with a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge after becoming confrontational while being escorted out of a Silverthorne bar.

In 2018, Tovar pleaded guilty to harassment following an altercation at a bar in Keystone. Later that year, he also pleaded guilty to charges of resisting arrest and violating a protection order after he again caused a scene at another Keystone bar and later tried to flee and fight with police.

Last year, Tovar pleaded guilty to obstructing government operations after becoming uncooperative when officers discovered him impaired on Main Street in Breckenridge and tried to take him to the hospital due to his level of intoxication. All of Tovar’s prior convictions in the area were misdemeanors.

Tovar is also charged with misdemeanor counts of violation of a protection order and resisting arrest from an incident Nov. 2 — four days before the fight with Rye — after allegedly getting kicked out of a Breckenridge bar and acting aggressively toward police officers. The case is yet to be adjudicated, and Tovar is set for an arraignment hearing Feb. 5.

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