9News could be held criminally liable in the shooting death of a conservative activist at a protest Saturday in Denver.

That’s according to Public Information Officer Ryan Luby of the Denver City Attorney’s Office.

Luby says the suspect Matthew Dolloff, 9News, Pinkerton, and the subcontractor Pinkerton paid for Dolloff’s services, could all face civil and criminal penalties for “permitting or directing an unlicensed person to perform security services.”

This revelation is an absolute bombshell that is sure to reverberate across the press corps in Colorado.

If 9News’ irresponsible actions contributed to Lee Keltner’s death, they could actually face both civil and criminal penalties.

Early reports suggest Dolloff may himself be a left-wing activist, with a connected YouTube account showing footage of “Occupy Wall Street protests and a Bernie Sanders rally in 2016.”

It is certainly an interesting coincidence that 9News contracted with someone of Dolloff’s background to be their security guard at this particular rally.

Earlier today Dolloff faced a judge for the first time in a hearing as he remains in custody on suspicion of first degree murder. The Elbert County Sheriff’s office also suspended his concealed weapons permit pending the investigation in Denver.

As we wrote earlier this is what can happen when journalists insist on inserting themselves into a story or try to become the story, as has become commonplace at 9News.

If it wasn’t already clear before there is no way 9News could possibly still moderate a U.S. Senate debate with the cloud of potential criminal charges hanging over the station.

These circumstances are unprecedented, and 9News needs to do the right thing and step aside to allow other outlets sponsoring the event to moderate.