Off-Duty Denver Officer Shields Store Workers

Denver police say an off-duty officer confronted two masked robbers, while shielding employees with her body during a stickup at a Walgreens on Thursday afternoon.

Police say veteran Sgt. Virginia Quinones was shopping about 3 p.m. in the Walgreens at 18550 Green Valley Ranch Blvd. when she saw the male robbers jump the pharmacy counter and shout at three female employees that it was a robbery.

Fearing for the employees' safety, Quinones drew her gun, jumped the counter and placed herself between the male robbers and the workers, allowing the women to escape, police said Friday. Quinones held the robbers at gunpoint while telling an employee to call 911.

After initially obeying Quinones' commands, the robbers rushed the officer, police said.

Fearing for her life, Quinones fired a single shot, which missed a robber and lodged in the wall, police said.

One robber fled, but the other man attacked Quinones with a milk crate, took her gun and ran from the store with the officer pursuing him.

One suspect, Nicholas Zentz, 25, was soon arrested a few blocks from the scene, police said.

The other suspect, later identified as Joseph Farina, 56, ran across the street, where he carjacked a 2005 black Chevrolet Suburban, police said.

Police cars swarmed the Walgreens.

Early Friday morning, Farina was arrested in Broomfield by Denver police with the assistance of the Boulder Swat Team and the Fugitive Location Apprehension Group, police said.

Farina and Zentz were being held on investigation of aggravated robbery and assault on a police officer.

Police said they were delaying the release of arrest photos of the suspects to avoid jeopardizing pending photo line-ups and an investigation of the men's possible involvement in other crimes in the metro area.

Quinones, who previously was the face of the police department as an agency spokeswoman, has also served in the Patrol Division, the Internal Affairs Bureau and is currently assigned to the Identification Records Bureau.

Police noted that Quinones has received numerous commendatory letters and commendations during 22 years with the department.


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