A bigoted Aurora man who shot his gender-fluid neighbor has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
A jury convicted Jonathan William Hultquist, 41, on Sept. 5 of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and a bias-motivated crime for shooting and seriously injuring his 54-year-old neighbor.
On Monday, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Ben Leutwyler sentenced Hultquist to 16 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
“I am convinced there is bias involved in this,” Leutwyler told Hultquist as he prepared to impose the sentence. “You went in and retrieved a gun, then you came back out. You could have just stayed inside. But you escalated things.”
“Hatred of a person based on their identity will never provide a justification for such outrageous, violent and potentially lethal behavior. This bigoted conduct is criminal, beneath the standards of our community, and it will not be tolerated by my office,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “Where there is fear, there is no freedom. All are protected by our laws. This is why we build prisons.”
On July 7, 2018, neighbors in the town home complex at East Ford Circle at East Tennessee Avenue were having a block party.
Hultquist was driving too fast and squealed his tires as he drove up and parked in his spot. Some of the neighbors confronted him and admonished him to be more careful with children nearby. Hultquist appeared to become angry and went into his house.
He came back out, ostensibly to apologize. But he saw the gender-fluid neighbor and began hurling insults. Witnesses described Hultquist baiting, antagonizing and taunting the neighbor. At the time the neighbor was using a male name and was wearing a long wig, a dress and high heels.
The hosts of the party put down the garage door with the neighbor inside, trying to separate the two. The neighbor called 911 to report an attack.
The neighbor left the garage to go home, carrying a box cutter.
Hultquist was still outside, yelling. When he saw the neighbor, he ran into his house and came back out with a handgun. Hultquist and the neighbor moved out into the street. Hultquist was about 20 feet away when he fired one shot at the neighbor, who fell to the ground in the middle of the street.
Arriving Aurora police officers were feet away from the neighbor when Hultquist fired the shot. They rushed to render first aid.
The neighbor was shot in the midsection, and the bullet lodged in the spine. The neighbor lost a kidney and part of the colon and intestines. Several vertebra had to be fused, and there is permanent nerve damage.
“It’s not right that people go around shooting other people because they don’t like them or disagree with them,” the neighbor told the judge during sentencing.
“This victim was not threatening anyone that night,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Garrik Storgaard told the judge. Hultquist “chose the victim because he did not like who the victim is. His words and actions reveal his bigotry and complete intolerance.”
He added: “Instilling fear in people because of their beliefs must be condemned. His actions deserve a harsh sentence.”
Storgaard tried the case with Deputy District Attorney Dan Martin.
“This was an unreasonable shooting that could have easily resulted in the death of this victim.” Martin said. “These actions were in no way justified and the jury spoke loud and clear what they think of these behaviors.”