A Durango man died by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head early Thursday in Durango while using a weapon he believed to be unloaded, according to the La Plata County coroner.
Steve Torres, 21, was “messing around” with a Colt .45 in a home in the 500 block of East Fourth Avenue a little after midnight, said Coroner Jann Smith.
“He (Torres) had the gun. His friend said, ‘Would you put it away.’ He said, ‘It’s not loaded, see.’ (He) put it up to his head and it went off,” Smith said. “... It was pretty evident what happened.”
Durango Police Department did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
The Coroner’s Office performed a toxicology exam on Torres’ body and is awaiting results about whether drugs or alcohol are involved.
“I’m not sure it would be classified as a suicide,” Smith said.
James Swantner, who met Torres in 2014 and lived with him for more than a year, said his late friend had a “super generous soul.”
“He was a great friend to me and he always put my concerns and cares first,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody when I moved here – him and his group of friends were open and helped me form the life I have today.”
Torres “pretty much grew up on Purgatory and in the Dalton Ranch area,” Swantner said. “He taught me how to snowboard, he always seemed most at home on his board.”
“... He had a really funny sense of humor. He was always cracking jokes, definitely one of those awkward kids; very awkward and funny kind of guy,” he said of Torres. “He was always playing jokes and being a fun loving guy, always looking to have a good time... he was really good at finding those.”
They would take trips into the mountains to go hiking, climbing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. “We’d just jump in the car,” Swantner said.
But the two grew apart after Swantner moved to Telluride and now Grand Junction.
“He was always like a little brother I wanted to spend time with,” he said. “I didn’t get the time to spend with him that I wanted to.”
Torres worked in Durango, the coroner said. His family has been notified of his death and funeral arrangements have been made, Smith said.