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Three high school pupils charged with murder took photo as a memento, police say

NewsThree high school pupils charged with murder took photo as a memento, police say

Three high school students who killed a young woman when they threw a rock through her car window went back to the scene of the crash to snap a photo of her vehicle, a court has heard. Joseph Koenig, Nicholas ‘Mitch’ Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak, all 18, killed Alexa Bartell, 20, in Arvada, Colorado, on April 19 by tossing a landscaping rock through her windshield in Arvada, Colorado.

The trio had thrown numerous rocks at passing cars prior to hitting Bartell at around 10:45pm.

According to a sheriff’s office arrest affidavit published on Thursday, Kwak told the others: “We have to go back and see that.”

Once back on the scene he took a photo of the careered car as a “memento”, Mail Online reports.

The three men were charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference, meaning they planned to kill and did not care who, when they appeared in court on Thursday.

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The trio were held without bond following their hearings.

Prosecutor Padraic Emerine said: “This was an extremely reckless and irresponsible situation that the defendant was involved in that, unfortunately, cost the life of a very innocent and very young woman in this case.”

A friend of the three alleged killers said to police he had seen them loading a truck with landscaping rocks taken from a Walmart parking lot several hours earlier, claiming they picked up “as many as they could carry”.

He suspected “something bad was going to happen”, so requested Koening, Karol-Chik and Kwak take him home.

The trio then patrolled roads in the area and scouted out nearby cars to target.

When launching the rocks Kwak said they would use “marine terms”, telling the court: “Mitch would say things like, ‘contact left’, before Joseph would throw the rock at a car on the left side of theirs.”

He added that the rock that killed Bartell made a “very loud noise… like a rail gun” when it made contact with her windsheidl.

A rock stained with blood was found next to the young woman’s yellow Chevy Spark, which had careered off the road.

Police were told by Karol-Chik he said afterwards: “We have to go back and see that”, where Kwak took a photo of the scene as a “memento”.

A friend described Koenig as some that enjoys creating “chaos”, often acting in destructively.

Kwak added: “Joseph and Mitch were talking about them now being ‘blood brothers’ and they could never speak of the incident.”

The three met up the next day to “get their stories straight”.

When being interviewed by police Karol-Chik and Kwak is said to have given conflicting accounts about who threw the rock, while Koenig refused to speak to officers.

One of the suspects felt “a hint of guilt” according to the affidavit, which also uncovered that local cell towers used data to trace the three high school seniors.

The trio had thrown rocks at vehicles on an estimated ten occasions since February, with six cars left damaged and two more drivers injured on the night that Bartell was killed.

Nathan Tipton, a Lyft and Uber driver, did not suffer any injuries after the men targeted his vehicle.

He told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday (April 25) he was driving southbound on Highway 93 at around 10:15pm near the Jefferson County and Boulder County lines.

Tipton said: “I saw two vehiles going northbound, but all I could see was the headlights, it was a dark road.

“And then a large shatter – it sounded like a shotgun blast.

“It scared the heck out of me.”

Tipton pulled over as soon as possible, where he saw that both his minivan’s driver side windows had been shattered.

He added: “It’s horrible. Nobody should lose their child for a random act of whatever this is.”

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