On the morning of February 24th, Martin Wirth was shot and killed in Bailey, Colorado as the Park County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve him with an eviction notice in the home where he had lived since 1998. A Corporal from the Sheriff’s Office was also shot and died on the scene. A Sheriff’s Deputy and a Captain were shot in the incident as well, and one of them remains in critical condition in the hospital.
Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, the entity which initiated foreclosure proceedings against Martin Wirth, has repeatedly come under fire for its predatory practices towards homeowners. As of earlier this month, a man in Charleston, WV is suing Nationstar Morgtage for alleged acts of fraud and illegal debt collection abuses.
Wirth had consistently maintained that his home was still his property, and that any foreclosure or eviction process initiated by Nationstar was illegitimate. In a video posted on Youtube, Martin stated that Nationstar was a “bunch of crooks” and that he and other homeowners whose mortgages were under Nationstar’s control were being “defrauded” and “foreclosed upon despite being current on their mortgages, they were being defrauded by this scam mortgage lenders use, Bank of America’s used it, Nationstar has used it.“
“Martin took extraordinary efforts in the past several years to shed light on and bring an end to the mass of unjust foreclosures that have ruined the lives of so many. He worked on actions to help others stay in their homes, filed federal and state lawsuits, and even ran for Colorado State Senate, earning 25% of his districts votes all in an effort to expose the prevalence of unjust and fraudulent foreclosures.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation stated that Martin had turned and reentered his home, and after officers quickly followed him in the shootings took place. Although it is not clear what exactly took place inside the home, a friend of Martin’s who had spoken with him recently, has stated that knowing authorities would be serving an eviction notice soon, he intended to go back into the house to avoid any confrontation as the officers posted the notice on his door.“
Mr. Wirth was on site in 2012 helping to move a woman’s belongings after the Idaho Springs eviction that garnered nation-wide attention for the hyper-militarization of a small mountain town police force.
Many Colorado residents are facing increasing rents and foreclosures and affordable housing is becoming more scarce every day. The day before his death Martin had “liked” an article on the Denver Solidarity Network highlighting how “Young renters have it hard but it’s even worse if you’re older“.
“Andrea Merida, co-chair of the Green Party of Colorado, said she had known Wirth for years and did not find him to be unstable. What I can tell you is he is absolutely a victim of the foreclosure crisis in America,” she said in an interview.
In a joint statment, Merida and and state Green Party co-chair Bill Bartlett called Wirth a ” friend to the oppressed who always supported the least among us.”
” We are shocked and saddened at the economic violence that has taken the life of our brother and another community member, who just happened to be wearing a uniform at the time,” they stated.
“We grieve with the families of the victims on all sides of this incident and redouble our efforts to work toward a world where everyone has according to their need. Shelter is a human right.”