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Weld County Sheriff Press Releases 2020

January
February

 

Sheriff's Office investigating reports of abandoned trailers

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is investigating numerous reports of abandoned mobile homes that have been dumped at various locations throughout northeast Weld County.

The abandoned trailers were first reported Sunday, Feb. 2. Since then, deputies have located seven mobile home trailers abandoned on county roads, in pastures and on private property. Most of the trailers have been dumped in northeast Weld County near the towns of Briggsdale and Hereford.

Several mobile homes were abandoned on Weld County Road 77 between Weld roads 110 and 136. Others were dumped on Colo. 14 and Weld 390, in the Pawnee National Grassland between Keota and Buckingham. Another was dumped north of the Colorado-Wyoming border.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office has identified the person responsible for dumping the mobile homes. That person has already picked up several trailers, but more remain at locations throughout the county.

The sheriff’s office is working in collaboration with the county attorney’s office, planning and zoning, and public works to continue to expedite a resolution.

The sheriff’s office is asking the public to report any additional sightings of abandoned trailers by calling non-emergency dispatch at (970) 350-9600, prompt 4.


Weld County SWAT assists Larimer County with arrest

The Weld County Regional SWAT team assisted earlier this week the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office with the arrest of a homicide suspect who was hiding out in the city of Evans.

Efren Jose Almeida, 34, a transient, was wanted by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, both felonies, in the death of 38-year-old Timothy Bryant of Fort Collins. About 9:20 p.m. Jan. 27, Larimer County deputies responded to a report of an injured person in the 200 block of Link Lane in Fort Collins. Bryant was found dead outside of a building.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, Larimer County investigators received information Almeida was in the area of U.S. 85 and 39th Street in Evans. Larimer County deputies coordinated with the Evans Police Department and the Weld County SWAT team to execute an arrest warrant near that location.

The SWAT team was mobilized at 10:30 p.m., arriving 14 minutes later at Almeida’s suspected location inside a parked camper in the 3800 block of Idaho Street. The SWAT team began making verbal announcements over a loudspeaker for Almeida to surrender. He was arrested at 11:39 p.m. without incident.

No shots were fired and no injuries to Almeida nor law enforcement were reported.

Also responding to the call were the Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Strike Team and the Greeley Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team.

Almeida is being held without bond at the Larimer County Jail pending his first court appearance, which takes place at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 11 in Larimer District Court.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at 970-356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies save runaway

An 11-year-old Weld County boy is safe thanks to the work of two Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies who found him earlier this week out in the cold after he ran away from home.

About 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies Daniel Trujillo and Donovan Pecorella responded to a report of a runaway juvenile at a home near the intersection of Weld County roads 8 and 61, about six miles southeast of Keenesburg. When the deputies arrived at the scene, they learned the boy lost both of his parents in a recent car crash. The boy, who is not being identified because he is a minor, was living with an aunt and uncle.

Deputies also learned the boy had been running away from home on a regular basis since moving in with this aunt and uncle, but typically went to his school and wouldn’t be gone for long. The boy’s aunt and uncle became worried after an hour passed, and their nephew still hadn’t returned.

The deputies were able to identify the boy’s footprints in the snow and followed his trail, which was difficult because it stopped and started intermittently among the scattered snowdrifts. At one point the footprints disappeared altogether and the deputies feared the boy had been picked up by an unknown passerby.

The deputies doubled their efforts and three hours later were back on the boy’s trail. This time the boy’s footprints led deputies to a property where at 5:35 p.m. they found him wrapped in a blanket behind a stack of hay bales.

The deputies spent more than four hours tracking the boy in unfavorable conditions. He had wandered more than a mile and a half from his home when they found him.

The boy was evaluated by medical personnel and returned to his family that same night.


Weld deputies, K9 save man from snow squall

Several Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies battled last week unfavorable conditions to save a man who was lost and alone in extreme winter weather.

At 9:40 p.m. last Wednesday, Feb. 12, deputies Sean Wagner, Elijah Howard, Thomas Lamb, Andrew Annan and Ben Rexroad, along with K9, Ringo, responded to a call involving a young man who knocked on a resident’s door, asked for water, and then ran away after the resident called 911. The young man was believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, and was described as wearing a hoodie, jeans, and tennis shoes.

At the time, it was 17 degrees, according to the “weather” app. With the wind chill, it felt more like 3 degrees.

Deputies Howard and Wagner were the first to respond to the scene. Recognizing the dangerous situation the man was in, the deputies began looking for and identified the man’s shoe impressions in the snow near the caller’s house. Howard later located the same shoe impressions on Weld County Road 15, south of Weld 90, near Cobb Lake about 9 miles south of Wellington.

Deputies Lamb, Annan and Rexroad, and Ringo, responded to assist. The deputies set up a perimeter as Rexroad deployed Ringo to begin tracking the young man. Lamb was able to take a position of advantage near an oil well site, utilizing a thermal imaging camera and night vision goggles to search a large open field. Lamb also provided radio updates to help orient the rest of the team as they walked through the field in the snow squall.

After walking a mile and a half, Ringo and the deputies located the man laying on the ground in the fetal position. The man, a 22-year-old Columbus, Nebraska-native living in Fort Collins, was so cold he couldn’t walk. Deputies helped him to his feet and carried him to Lamb’s patrol vehicle. Lamb then drove the man to Weld roads 19 and 88 to meet with medical personnel, who were still driving to the scene.

Medical confirmed the man’s core body temperature was low, and his shoes were frozen to his feet. He was taken to Poudre Valley Hospital for treatment.

When the man was found by deputies, he was succumbing to the cold and going to sleep. Medical personnel told deputies he more than likely wouldn’t have survived the elements if he had not been found. He has since made a full recovery.

The man later told first responders he was walking to Cheyenne from Fort Collins on U.S. 287 when he got lost in the blizzard. The man stopped at the caller’s house near Weld roads 86 and 13 but ran away when the homeowner called 911.

The deputies put in a total of four hours locating the man. It was the second cold weather save in as many days.

The day before, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, deputies Daniel Trujillo and Donovan Pecorella successfully tracked for more than 4 hours an 11-year-old boy who ran away from his home south of Keenesburg.


Weld County Sheriff’s Office investigating suspicious death

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a suspicious death on private property near Kersey.

The identification of the victim is pending an autopsy and notification of next of kin by the Weld County Coroner.

There is no threat to the public at this time.

No other information is immediately available given the ongoing investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at 970-356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Update: Victim of suspicious death near Kersey identified

The Weld County Coroner identified Tuesday the victim of a suspicious death discovered over the weekend in unincorporated Weld County west of Kersey.

The victim is Heather Frank, 48, of Greeley. The cause and manner of death are not being released at this time due to ongoing investigations by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office and the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. However, there is no threat to public safety.

About noon on Sunday, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office with the execution of a search warrant at a house at 26712 Weld County Road 45, which is off U.S. 34 between Greeley and Kersey. Larimer County detectives were in Weld County following up on a lead in its investigation into the homicide of 53-year-old Greeley resident Stanley Scott Sessions.

On Feb. 10, Larimer County deputies were notified of a body in the area of Old Flowers Road and Pingree Park Road in Bellvue. The body was later identified as Sessions, a Greeley-based trumpet player.

On Sunday, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kevin Dean Eastman, 48, of Greeley in connection with the homicide. He was booked into the Larimer County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and tampering with a deceased human body, both felonies.

During the search of the Weld County Road 45 address, Weld and Larimer County deputies discovered on the property the body of a deceased adult woman, later identified as Frank. Frank had an active warrant on suspicion of homicide at the time of her death.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office sought its own search warrant for the Weld County Road 45 property and is investigating Frank’s death. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Sessions’ homicide.

No other information was available as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at 970-356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Weld County Sheriff’s Office makes arrest in death of Heather Frank

On Thursday, investigators with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest in the death of Greeley resident Heather Frank.

Kevin Dean Eastman, 48, of Greeley was arrested and booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of tampering with a deceased human body, both felonies. Eastman was already incarcerated at the Larimer County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and tampering with a deceased human body in the Feb. 8 death of 53-year-old Stanley Scott Sessions, a Greeley-based trumpet player.

Sessions was discovered by a snowplow driver off a desolate road in Poudre Canyon near Bellvue. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office launched a homicide investigation into his death.

During that investigation, on Sunday, Feb. 16, Larimer County detectives arrested Eastman at a gas station in Kersey. After his arrest, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office assisted Larimer County investigators with the execution of a search warrant in Weld County.

During the search of the property, Weld and Larimer County deputies discovered the remains of 48-year-old Frank. The Weld County Sheriff’s Office then sought its own search warrant for the Weld County address and began to investigate Frank’s death.

Frank had an active warrant on suspicion of first-degree murder out of Larimer County at the time of her death. She too was under investigation by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office for the death of Sessions.

It was determined that Eastman would be tried for both homicides in Weld District Court.

Formal charges are pending by the Weld District Attorney’s Office. Eastman’s Larimer District Court case related to the death of Sessions will be dropped and charges related to the death of Sessions will be included with the filing of charges in Weld District Court.

Anyone with information regarding this crime is asked to call Weld County Sheriff’s Office Det. Gerry Porter at (970) 400-5806.


Weld K9 handlers recognized by Colorado Air National Guard

Three Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies were recently recognized by the Colorado Air National Guard for demonstrating K9 techniques during a State Partnership Program event with representatives from Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Through the State Partnership Program, the Colorado National Guard conducts military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals but also leverages whole-of-society relationships and capabilities to facilitate broader inter-agency and corollary engagements spanning military, government, economic and social spheres, according to the Colorado National Guard website.

On June 25, 2019, the Weld County K9 team assisted the Colorado Air National Guard with a demonstration of their capabilities at the Greeley Air National Guard Station. During that demonstration event, deputy Grady Nicholson and K9 Rok, deputy Ben Rexroad and K9 Ringo, and deputy Gretchen Meyers provided an overview of the capabilities of the K9 unit, including narcotics detection and suspect apprehension.

“Their skill, experience, and demonstration was impressive showing the overall professionalism of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office,” stated a letter of appreciation that was recently presented to the deputies. “We are grateful for the support and look forward to any future coordination/training between our organizations.”


Weld SO partners with Dutch Bros Coffee for ‘Badges with Buckets’

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be at Dutch Bros Coffee in Greeley all day Saturday to raise money for Special Olympics Colorado.

The “Badges with Buckets for Special Olympics” fundraiser takes place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Dutch Bros Coffee location in Greeley, 4704 W. 24th St. Dutch Bros Coffee will donate $1 for every cup of coffee sold on Saturday to Special Olympics Colorado. Deputies also will have buckets to collect additional donations from the public.

Weld County deputies Zachery Poulsen, Breanna Thompson, Emerson McDaniel, Joseph Howard, Nathan Burke, Joshua Kiburz, Sgt. Cory Channel and Lt. Marcy Roles-Foos will be at Dutch Bros passing out sheriff’s office swag and showing off a real patrol cruiser.

Joining them in the morning will be athletes Jason Encinias, 44, who competes in volleyball, basketball, bowling and bocce ball; Linda Sabala, 37, who competes in basketball, volleyball and bocce ball; and Crystal Dale, 34, who competes in bocce ball. Later in the afternoon, the deputies will be joined by athletes Kristy Welch, 19, and Connor Wellos, 20, who both compete in bowling, basketball and swimming.

“This is a great opportunity to meet with deputies, see a patrol car up close and personal, and get the chance to meet, ask questions, and interact with some of our Special Olympics athletes,” said deputy Poulsen, who also is co-deputy director of Region 3 of Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Colorado. “Having the athletes on-hand will definitely help people understand the reach of Special Olympics programs and how their donations are going to a worthy cause.”

Special Olympics was the genesis of a summer camp hosted by Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President John F. Kennedy’s sister, in the backyard of their Maryland home. The first International Special Olympics Games were hosted in 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago. In December of that year, the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation incorporated Special Olympics.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run came later when in 1981 Wichita police Chief Richard LaMunyon hosted the first Special Olympics Torch Run. Two years later, Chief LaMunyon presented the program to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which voted to endorse the Torch Run. With the support of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Law Enforcement Torch Run program has become the largest public awareness and fundraising group for Special Olympics.

Special Olympics Colorado Law Enforcement Torch Run Region 3 encompasses 38 law enforcement agencies in Weld, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington and Yuma counties. Last year, Colorado’s Law Enforcement Torch Run regions raised more than $1 million combined for Special Olympics. It was the first time in state history the Law Enforcement Torch Run surpassed $1 million in annual donations.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office participates in five Special Olympics fundraising events each year, including Tip-a-Cop in partnership with Chili’s Grill & Bar, Plane Pull at Denver International Airport, the Torch Run through Weld County, Badges with Buckets in partnership with Dutch Bros Coffee and next weekend’s Polar Plunge.

For more information about Special Olympics Colorado or to donate, visit SpecialOlympicsCO.org. For more information about the Law Enforcement Torch Run, visit SpecialOlympicsCO.org/LETR.


March

Weld County Sheriff’s Office investigating shooting at house north of Brighton

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an overnight shooting that occurred at a house just north of Brighton city limits.

At 11:30 p.m. Saturday, deputies responded to a report of a shooting at an address near Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue) and Starr Lane. Five people were shot during the incident. They were all taken to nearby hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Witnesses at the scene described the suspects as three men. One of the men was described as Latino, 20 to 22 years of age with bowl cut hair with a faded side.   

The second man was described as African American in his early 20s with puffy hair up in a bun, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt.

The third man was described as African American also in his early 20s wearing crimped long hair in a bun.  

The suspects were driving a silver four-door sports car, possibly a Dodge Charger. Witnesses said there were two women also in the car with the three suspects.

The shooting remains under investigation by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. No arrests had been made as of 5:30 a.m. Sunday. However, investigators do not believe there is any danger posed to the public at large at this time.

Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to call Det. Dayle Rosebrock at (970) 400-2889.

People with information regarding this or any other crime can also call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Weld County Sheriff’s Office asking for public’s help identifying shooting suspects

UPDATE: Noon

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance with identifying three men suspected of being involved in a shooting last night that sent five people to the hospital.

The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. at a house near Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue) and Starr Lane just north of Brighton.

All three men are described as being in their early 20s. One man was described by witnesses as Latino with bowl cut hair with a faded side.

The second suspect was described as African American with puffy hair up in a bun, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt.

The third suspect was described as African American wearing crimped long hair in a bun.

Photos of the suspects are attached.

Anyone with information about the suspects or last night’s shooting is asked to call Det. Brandon Ong at (970) 400-5816.

- end of update -

Weld County Sheriff’s Office investigating shooting at house north of Brighton

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an overnight shooting that occurred at a house just north of Brighton city limits.

At 11:30 p.m. Saturday, deputies responded to a report of a shooting at an address near Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue) and Starr Lane. Five people were shot during the incident. They were all taken to nearby hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Witnesses at the scene described the suspects as three men. One of the men was described as Latino, 20 to 22 years of age with bowl cut hair with a faded side.   

The second man was described as African American in his early 20s with puffy hair up in a bun, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt.

The third man was described as African American also in his early 20s wearing crimped long hair in a bun.  

The suspects were driving a silver four-door sports car, possibly a Dodge Charger. Witnesses said there were two women also in the car with the three suspects.

The shooting remains under investigation by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. No arrests had been made as of 5:30 a.m. Sunday. However, investigators do not believe there is any danger posed to the public at large at this time.

Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to call Det. Dayle Rosebrock at (970) 400-2889.

People with information regarding this or any other crime can also call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Weld County Sheriff’s Office responds to report of found body

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office responded Sunday to a report of a found body inside a trailer in Del Camino.

Deputies responded to the call about 1:30 p.m. Sunday and located 53-year-old Kevin Edward Geiger deceased inside an enclosed 5x8 trailer. The trailer was parked at a well-known homeless camp behind Phillips 66 gas station at 3851 Colo. 119 in Del Camino. It appeared Geiger was living in the trailer.

The 911 call was prompted when a friend of Geiger decided to check up on him after not seeing or hearing from him for several weeks. He opened Geiger’s trailer to find him dead inside.

The friend dialed 911 and deputies responded to investigate. Evidence at the scene suggests Geiger’s death was accidental. No foul play is suspected.

The final cause and manner of death will be released by the Weld County Coroner’s Office pending the completion of an autopsy.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office seeing uptick in vehicle thefts, burglaries

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be vigilant when it comes to securing and protecting their homes and vehicles.

The sheriff’s office has been seeing for the last several years a steady upward trend in the number of reports of stolen vehicles. Data suggests stolen vehicle reports will continue to climb in 2020.

The sheriff’s office received a total of 20 reports of stolen vehicles in January and February of this year, which is up from 14 during the same time period in 2017. There was a total of 100 reports of stolen vehicles in 2017, followed by 95 in 2018 and 107 in 2019.

Of the 107 vehicles stolen last year, 86 were recovered by investigators for a recovery rate of 82 percent, which was on par with or better than law enforcement agencies in the Denver metro area.

Weld County also is a dumping ground for vehicles stolen from other parts of the state and deputies are seeing a major increase in the number of abandoned vehicles in the county. So far this year, Weld County deputies have recovered 19 vehicles reported stolen from other jurisdictions.

In 2017, deputies recovered a total of 68 stolen vehicles that had been abandoned in the county. That statistic jumped to 81 in 2018, and 101 in 2019.

Many incidents of both stolen and recovered vehicles are occurring on the south side of the county, in the area of U.S. 85 east of Fort Lupton to Hudson and south to Lochbuie. Many of the vehicles reported stolen were unlocked. Some had keys left in the ignition.

The sheriff’s office also is seeing an increase in burglaries in the same area. In many cases, the perpetrators are entering homes through broken or unsecured windows. There also have been reports of burglars entering homes through unlocked doors or open garages.

“Many of the reports we’re taking are crimes of opportunity,” said Weld County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division Capt. Alan Caldwell. “Crime prevention begins with you; don’t be a victim by choice. Make sure your homes are secure when you leave for the day and your cars are locked when you come home at night.”

Because vandalism, theft, burglaries and other crimes tend to increase during the spring, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office is asking residents to be alert and to report any suspicious activity by dialing 911. If the suspicious activity involves a vehicle, be sure to note the license plate.

In addition to dialing 911, residents with information regarding possible criminal activity can call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Suspect identified, arrest warrant issued in Brighton shooting investigation

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office has identified one of the suspects wanted in connection with a shooting at a home north of Brighton that hospitalized five people.

Deputies have obtained an attempted murder warrant for the suspect’s arrest. The suspect is not being identified because he is a juvenile.

The sheriff’s office also has located the vehicle connected to the shooting. The vehicle has been impounded and the sheriff’s office has executed a search warrant on the car. 

Investigators continue to actively search for the suspect, who is not yet in custody. Investigators do not believe he poses a threat to the general public.

In addition to identifying one of the suspected shooters, Weld County investigators also have eliminated Johnathon Gonzalez-Villa as a suspect in the case.

The sheriff’s office continues to ask for the public’s help with identifying two young men connected to the shooting. They are both described as African Americans in their late teens or early 20s.

One of the men was described as having puffy hair up in a bun, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt. The second African American man was wearing crimped long hair in a bun. He was wearing a blue satin Ralph’s Tigers jacket by Polo. The jacket has a similar style as a letterman jacket.

The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. last Saturday, Feb. 29, at an address near Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue) and Starr Lane. Five people were shot during the incident. They were all taken to nearby hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The sheriff’s office is not releasing the names of those wounded in the shooting because they are victims in an active attempted murder investigation.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Det. Dayle Rosebrock at (970) 400-2889 or Det. Brandon Ong at (970) 400-5816.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies recover $120,000 backhoe

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies, including members of the Strike Team and K9, recovered Wednesday a stolen backhoe with an estimated value of $120,000.

About 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, deputy Donovan Pecorella responded to Aims Community College in Fort Lupton on a report of a cold theft. The caller reported his John Deere backhoe had been stolen overnight.

The owner told deputies the backhoe is equipped with a GPS tracker. Pecorella and the owner tracked the vehicle to 5402 Weld County Road 23. While en route, the GPS tracker showed the vehicle was inside a building on the property.

But by the time deputies arrived at the scene, the backhoe had been moved off the property and onto an access road. The vehicle had been stripped of its license plate and all identifying markings.

Deputies called the property owner, Ramon Ramirez, who claimed he found the backhoe on the side of the road Tuesday night and moved it to his shop. He told deputies he assumed the owner would be looking for it, so he moved it back out onto the road before leaving Wednesday morning for Denver. Ramirez also claimed he called Weld County Dispatch Tuesday night to report he had found the backhoe, but no record of that call exists.

Deputies sought and were granted a search warrant for Ramirez’s property. Det. Jeff Meadows, deputy Brian Fortin and K9 Loki responded to help with the search. The backhoe’s license plate was discovered in a burn pit inside the fenced property.

Ramirez returned to the property from Denver while deputies were still on scene. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, a Class 3 felony.

Deputies continued to process the scene into late Wednesday afternoon to determine if evidence of additional criminal activity exists on the property. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Suspect in Brighton shooting arrested

One of three suspects wanted in connection to a shooting at a home north of Brighton that hospitalized five people has been arrested.

The 17-year-old Denver resident was arrested about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday by Denver police and members of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. The arrest came days after the Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Strike Team and Investigations Unit executed two search warrants at the boy’s known addresses in Denver.

The suspect is not being identified because he is a juvenile.

The search warrants were executed last Thursday in coordination with the Denver Police Department’s SWAT Team. The boy was not at either home at the time the warrants were served.

After the SWAT operation, the Safe Streets Task Force joined the investigation. Federal investigators tracked the suspect both digitally and physically until his arrest earlier this week.

Members of the Strike Team picked up the boy Tuesday night from the Denver Police Department’s District 1 station. He was transported to the Platte Valley Youth Services Center in Greeley where he remains on $100,000 bond.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office investigators would like to thank the public for all the tips that were submitted during the investigation. Detectives ask the public to continue to contact the sheriff’s office, as investigators are still working to identify two suspected accomplices believed to be with the boy the night of the shooting. 

They are described as African American men in their late teens or early 20s. One of the men was described as having puffy hair up in a bun, wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt.

The second African American man was wearing crimped long hair in a bun. He was wearing a blue satin Ralph’s Tigers jacket by Polo. The jacket has a similar style as a letterman jacket.

The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at an address near Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue) and Starr Lane. Five people were shot during the incident. They were all taken to nearby hospitals for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The sheriff’s office is not releasing the names of those wounded in the shooting because they are victims in an active attempted murder investigation.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Det. Dayle Rosebrock at (970) 400-2889 or Det. Brandon Ong at (970) 400-5816.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


Scammers taking advantage of Coronavirus outbreak

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a new scam that has surfaced since the outbreak of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Just this week, Undersheriff Donnie Patch has received three phone calls – on his sheriff’s office-issued cellphone no less – from scammers claiming to be his Medicare or Medicaid provider. Patch immediately recognized the calls were a scam as he is not yet 65 years old and does not qualify for Medicare.

It’s not uncommon for scammers to try to capitalize off public health emergencies to defraud unsuspecting residents of their vital personal information, such as social security numbers, banking information and credit card numbers, to name a few. Unfortunately, due to sophisticated online phishing techniques, scammers might already know some of your personal identifying information when they call.

Scammers will use that publicly available information to lull their victims into a false sense of trust in order to trick them into giving out even more sensitive information.

“This is a scam plain and simple,” Patch said. “The best way to protect yourself from someone claiming to be your Medicare or Medicaid provider is to hang up the phone and call your provider directly to find out if they are attempting to contact you.”

Anyone who thinks they have been victimized by a scam is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (970) 356-4015.


Weld County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division welcomes new deputy, K9

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office has added a K9 team to the patrol division, bringing the agency’s total number of K9 handlers to six.

Deputy Sean Jenneiahn and K9 Kenzi joined the sheriff’s office earlier this month from the Lafayette Police Department. Jenneiahn and Kenzi join four other K9 teams on the patrol side of the agency. There is one K9 team detailed to the Weld County Jail.

Jenneiahn has more than 21 years of law enforcement experience, beginning his career as a detentions deputy with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in California. He then spent five and a half years on patrol with the Stockton Police Department, also in California. The city of Stockton is about 80 miles east of San Francisco and about 50 miles south of Sacramento.

In 2005, Jenneiahn moved to Colorado where spent two years with the Firestone Police Department. In 2007, Jenneiahn went to the Lafayette Police Department where he spent the last 13 years as a traffic officer. He is a Level 3 Accident Reconstructionist and served Lafayette police as a corporal and as a K9 handler.

Jenneiahn has had three K9s in his career, including Arco, Zeus and Kenzi. The sheriff’s office was already familiar with Jenneiahn and Kenzi, as they have been training with Weld County K9 handlers for the last four years. Kenzi is certified under the same organization used by the sheriff’s office, which made for a smooth transition to Weld County from Lafayette.

When he’s not at work, Jenneiahn golfs and plays drums in his Country music band “Buckstein.”


Weld Sheriff’s Office to maintain operations amid public health order

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office will maintain certain operations while a public health order issued in response to the Coronavirus outbreak is in effect.

On Monday, Weld County government declared a pandemic health emergency and issued a public health order mandating social distancing through April 8 to reduce public interaction and slow the spread of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Social distancing means people stay at least six feet away from each other, and all events of 10 people or more are canceled. All events at the following locations are prohibited, regardless of the number of attendees: day care centers, child care centers, private schools (including pre-schools), private day schools, community recreation centers, ice rinks and libraries.

The sheriff’s office is maintaining public safety operations, but certain services will be impacted while the public health order is in effect.

The Del Camino substation, 4209 Weld County Road 24 1/2 in Longmont, and the Fort Lupton substation, 2950 9th St., is closed to the public until April 8. The sheriff’s office main lobby, located in the administration building at 1950 O St. in Greeley, will remain open during normal operating hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for civil services, fine payment, sex offender registration and to process conceal carry permits.

Conceal carry permit holders who need to renew before April 8 but don’t want to travel while the public health order is in effect will be granted a 30-day extension.

Although the administration office will remain open, the public is asked to do as much business as possible by phone and email.

The Weld County Jail, 2110 O St. in Greeley, is closed to all but professional visitors, such as attorneys. However, professional visitors also are encouraged to conduct as much business as possible electronically and by phone.

In addition to dialing 911 or calling non-emergency dispatch, the public is encouraged to also take advantage of Greeley and Weld County’s online portal to report non-emergency crimes such as thefts, lost property, vandalism and gas drive-offs.

For general questions about COVID-19 in Colorado, call the state CO HELP line at (303) 389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911, or email COHELP@RMPDC.org. For updated COVID-19 information, including the full declaration and Public Health Order visit: www.weldhealth.org.  


Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrest two violent suspects

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office removed two violent suspects from the streets when last weekend deputies arrested one man wanted on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and a second accused of ramming a police cruiser during an in-progress vehicle theft.

The first investigation began on March 9 when deputies responded to the Hill N Park neighborhood on a report of a stolen vehicle in progress. A stolen Dodge pickup was being tracked by the owner through a GPS unit in the vehicle. Greeley police officers also responded to the call and were in contact with the owner as the pickup had been stolen from a Greeley business.

Weld patrol deputies launched a search for the stolen vehicle, locating it nearby still in the Hill N Park neighborhood. Several deputies attempted to contact the driver, later identified as 29-year-old Weld County resident Cody Kenneth Phillip Hamilton, but Hamilton twice intentionally backed into a sheriff’s office police cruiser driven by Deputy Kayla McKinney. The damage to McKinney’s cruiser was so severe it was disabled.

Additional deputies briefly pursued Hamilton but discontinued the chase when school buses entered the neighborhood. The pickup was again located a short while later. Also heavily damaged from running into McKinney’s cruiser, it had broken down in the area of Glacier and Grand Canyon drives in Hill N Park.

Deputies and residents saw Hamilton run from yard-to-yard on Glacier Drive. Deputies set up a perimeter to contain the suspect. A K9 unit responded to track Hamilton, but he wasn’t located. 

Later that day, deputies received a report from a Hill N Park resident who said Hamilton entered their home and held them at knifepoint for more than two hours. The resident was not injured.

Sheriff’s Office detectives obtained an arrest warrant and began tracking Hamilton digitally. The Weld County Sheriff’s Office Strike Team assisted with tracking Hamilton and developed leads on his location. On Saturday, Hamilton was contacted by Platteville police on an unrelated incident and arrested on the Weld County warrant.  

Hamilton was booked into the Weld County Jail where is he being held on $100,000 bond on suspicion of attempted first-degree assault of a peace officer, false imprisonment, vehicular eluding and menacing. He also is being held on $25,000 bond on suspicion of aggravated motor vehicle theft out of Greeley, as well as a no bond hold for failing to appear in court in a third case.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Det. Sierra Vessels at (970) 400-2836.

The second investigation began last Wednesday, March 11, when Weld deputies and Greeley police officers responded to a report of a stabbing near O Street and North 25th Avenue. When law enforcement arrived at the scene, they found a man who had sustained serious wounds. He was rushed by ambulance to North Colorado Medical Center for treatment.

Sheriff’s office deputies and detectives developed leads on a suspect in the case and obtained an arrest warrant for Deandres Gordon, 21, of Greeley. A collaborative effort by patrol deputies, the Strike Team and Greeley police led to Gordon’s arrest on Saturday at the Greeley Mall.

Gordon was taken to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office where he confessed to the stabbing to detectives. He was booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder. He is being held on $300,000 bond.

“Despite the public health crisis that our nation and Weld County is facing, Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigators continue to diligently work to protect our community from the ever-constant threat of violent crime,” said Investigations Sgt. Aaron Walker. “These two cases involved suspects that were indifferent to human life, placing other residents and sheriff’s office deputies in grave danger. 

“Fortunately, Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives were able to quickly track down the suspects and remove them from the streets.”

Anyone with information about the stabbing is asked to contact Det. Byron Kastilahn at (970) 400-2836.

Anyone with information regarding these or any other crimes can also call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.


University High senior donates money to sheriff’s office for body armor

Earlier this week, a University High School student donated more than $700 to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office as part of his senior project.

Teagan Gehring decided to raise money for the purchase of body armor for a deputy. He raised money through a bake sale, a smoothie bar, donation buckets at local businesses and by asking his friends and family for additional funds.

On Tuesday, Gehring brought the money he raised to the sheriff’s office and presented it to Undersheriff Donnie Patch. It totaled $774 in cash.

The sheriff’s office will use the donated funds to purchase body armor and an external carrier for the Detentions Division. The body armor will be used by deputies tasked with transporting inmates out of the Weld County Jail.  

“The citizens of Weld County have always been supportive of law enforcement,” Patch said. “It is fantastic to see that same support developing in our young adults.”


Weld Sheriff’s Office deputies deploy R1, assist 18 stuck drivers during Thursday blizzard

In response to Thursday afternoon’s blizzard, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office deployed Rescue 1 and assisted nearly 20 drivers who had become stuck in the elements.

Rescue 1 is a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicle, or MRAP. It was deployed about 4:30 p.m. Thursday to conduct a safety patrol in the county.

By midnight Friday, deputies utilized Rescue 1 to tow six vehicles to safety on Colo. 52 at Weld County Road 43, just west of Hudson. It was then used to move deputies four miles northeast to Interstate 76 and Weld 49 where four vehicles had become stuck at the onramp. Eight more vehicles were towed or hand-pushed to safety on Colo. 52 and Weld 79, south of Roggen.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office received Rescue 1 in 2014 through the U.S. Department of Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office grant process. The MRAP had 8,000 miles and a price tag of $750,000, but it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime thanks to the federal grant. Had it not been acquired by the county, Rescue 1 likely would have been destroyed as the design and its equipment had been phased out by the Defense Department.

Since it was delivered, the sheriff’s office has deployed Rescue 1 on an average of 20 missions per year. It is primarily used as a rescue vehicle during extreme weather events. It can also be used on SWAT calls.

Rescue 1 was not modified after its purchase, aside from the addition of police lights and a “nifty” paint job, said Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office warns residents about mail thefts

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a string of mail thefts that occurred over the weekend.

The thefts took place late Friday night or early Saturday morning in the 7300 block of Weld County Road 16. More mailbox thefts were reported about the same time in the area of Weld roads 23 and 24 1/2.

Doorbell camera footage shows a single, compact sedan driving up to mailboxes in the area of the reported thefts.

Considering the federal government is expected to pass Wednesday a massive Coronavirus stimulus package, which would include checks for almost every American, the sheriff’s office is encouraging residents to report suspicious persons or vehicles near mailboxes. Be sure to note the license plate of the vehicle if possible, as well as the make, model, color and body style.

“Since the U.S. Government is planning to send checks to people to help ease the economic strain of COVID-19, we are anticipating more reports of mail thefts,” said Weld County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division Capt. Alan Caldwell. “We’ve seen this in the past during times of a national crisis and we expect to see it again. That’s why we’re reminding our residents to be vigilant of suspicious activity and to be especially wary of mail thieves.”

The sheriff’s office also wants to remind the public that scammers tend to be most active during national emergencies. When a stimulus package is passed by Congress, remember the government will never ask you to pay money up front in order to receive your check. The funds will be sent to you automatically.

The government also will not call to ask for your personal information, such as Social Security number, bank account or credit card number in order to receive funds from the stimulus package. Anyone who engages in such activity is a scammer.

Anyone with information about last weekend’s mail thefts or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld deputies searching for suspect who taped firecrackers to gas meter

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is seeking information about a suspect or suspects who earlier this week taped several firecrackers to a gas meter in an apparent attempt to ignite a live gas line.

The incident began about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when deputies Michael Jaeger and Nathan Scudder responded to a property call in the 200 block of Kelly Lane, which is about one mile northeast of Brighton city limits in unincorporated Weld County.

The homeowner called 911 after he found a backpack on the side of the house. The backpack contained several items he believed had been stolen from his house the night before.

Deputies collected the backpack, which contained several other pieces of evidence including multiple car keys, an ignition tumbler, gloves, some tools and a registration card from a recovered stolen vehicle. Deputy Scudder went back to make sure all the evidence had been collected when he noticed something odd about the gas meter on the side of the house.

Upon closer inspection, Scudder realized someone had attached five M-150 firecrackers to a live gas line running to the meter. The firecrackers were taped to the gas line and wrapped in plastic.

There was a full box of matches as well as a pile of unused matches on the ground next to the meter. There also were numerous empty alcohol bottles that were collected as additional evidence.

The Weld County Bomb Squad responded as a precaution and took possession of the M-150s for disposal. 

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld deputies seeking information about runaway boy

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help with locating a 14-year-old boy who ran away from home over the weekend.

Aaron Faulkner left home about 8 a.m. Sunday. He lives in the 11500 block of Colo. 392, which is about 3 miles east of Windsor.

Aaron is a habitual runaway who usually leaves his house on foot. On Sunday, he drove off on a 2010 red Honda ATV.

Aaron, a student at Highland Middle School in Ault, is described as white, approximately 5 feet, 5 inches tall, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a brown Carhart jacket, blue jeans and black rubber mud boots. 

Aaron has been located in the Windsor and Timnath areas in the past. His family believes he might be trying to get to his biological mother’s house in Greeley.

The photo of the ATV attached to this news release is the same make and model, but it isn’t the exact ATV Aaron is riding.

Anyone with information is asked to call Weld County Non-Emergency Dispatch at (970) 356-4000, hit prompt 2 to speak with a dispatcher, or Det. Jeff Meadows at (970) 400-2854.

Weld County law enforcement team up to find missing boy

A 14-year-old Weld County boy who ran away from home over the weekend was found Monday night at a hotel in Evans.

Aaron Faulkner ran away about 8:30 a.m. Sunday from his home in the 11500 block of Colo. 392, which is about three miles east of Windsor. He stole a 2010 red Honda ATV when he left the property.

Aaron was found about 9 p.m. Monday by Evans police at the Heritage Inn, 3301 W. Service Road.

During the investigation, deputies learned Aaron was living with an uncle and ran away in attempt to go live with his biological mother in Greeley. It is believed Aaron spent Sunday night at a friend’s house before being picked up Monday morning by his stepfather, Vance Grafel, 37, of Greeley.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies spent all day Monday searching for Aaron. The first break came when deputies located the Honda ATV in a field near the intersection of 35th Avenue and O Street in Greeley. The sheriff’s office responded to the intersection after receiving tips from the community.

Law enforcement then began digitally tracking Grafel and contacted him at the Heritage Inn. Although Aaron wasn’t there at the time, Grafel told police he wasn’t going to allow his stepson to return to his uncle’s house and he wasn’t going to let anyone know his location.

Grafel was subsequently arrested and booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of one count each of second-degree kidnapping, harboring a minor and obstructing government operations.

Evans police found Aaron when they returned to the Heritage Inn Monday night.

Anyone who thinks they might have additional information about this case is asked to call Det. Jeff Meadows at (970) 400-2854.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

April
Weld County Sheriff’s Office investigating reports of police impersonator

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a police impersonator pulling vehicles over at locations throughout the county.

The suspect vehicle is described as a black Dodge Charger that might be equipped with emergency lights in the dash, and may or may not be outfitted with magnetic, law enforcement-type signs on the door. It is believed the Charger is a 2016 or similar model.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set white man of medium height with light hair. He might also be wearing dark clothing he is trying to pass off as a police uniform.

The sheriff’s office doesn’t routinely use unmarked cars for traffic contacts and isn’t during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you are being pulled over by a car that you can’t identify, slow down, put on your emergency flashers and call 911 to confirm the stop is legitimate.

Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Unit at (970) 400-2825.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld Criminal Impact Unit arrests chop shop head, recovers $300K in stolen vehicles

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Impact Unit scored a major victory this week when it arrested the head of a local chop shop responsible for stealing and modifying hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen vehicles.

Kevin Abelbert Chavez, 29, of Denver was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of 22 felonies including 11 counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft, seven counts of chop shop activity, four counts of theft and one count of vehicular eluding. Chavez is being held without bond pending his first appearance in court.

The investigation began Jan. 30 when Chavez’s ex-wife contacted the Criminal Impact Unit about possible illegal activity. The Criminal Impact Unit, also known as the Strike Team, is a group of detectives housed under the Investigations Unit at the sheriff’s office.

The ex-wife told investigators she and Chavez recently went to divorce court, but because Chavez has no verifiable income – due to earning a living entirely from criminal activity – she wasn’t awarded alimony to help care for their children. Knowing Chavez earned six figures a year from his illegal chop shop enterprise, the ex-wife decided to call the sheriff’s office to inform detectives about a number of stolen pickups, all-terrain vehicles, trailers and utility task vehicles.

Members of the Criminal Impact Unit acted on the tip that same day and recovered more than $200,000 in stolen vehicles. The vehicles were reported stolen in Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming and New Mexico.

The Unit continued to investigate leads and on Feb. 10 encountered Chavez driving a stolen vehicle on U.S. 85 and Weld County Road 8, about three miles south of Fort Lupton. Chavez fled from investigators who opted not to engage in a high-speed pursuit due to public safety concerns.

Last week, members of the Criminal Impact Unit recovered several more vehicles, including two pickups and three ATVs valued at more than $100,000 to bring the total amount of recovered property to over $300,000. Weapons also were recovered with the vehicles.

On Wednesday, 63 days after the investigation began, detectives contacted Chavez. Although he admitted some responsibility, he refused to provide any new information or leads. He was subsequently arrested and booked on suspicion of the 22 felony charges.

The Criminal Impact Unit investigation remains ongoing as detectives have identified other members of the chop shop and stolen vehicle ring. Chavez’s ex-wife and the known victims to date are not being identified due to that ongoing investigation.

Anyone with additional information about Chavez and his criminal activity is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Impact Unit at (970) 304-6464.

Also participating in the investigation were the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Collins Police Services, Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, the Beat Auto Theft Through Law Enforcement (BATTLE) task force and the FBI out of Wyoming.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Update: Weld deputies clear 6 police impersonator suspects, investigation ongoing

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Impact Unit has investigated and cleared six potential police impersonators.

Investigators with the Criminal Impact Unit, also known as the Strike Team, have received more than 30 tips through the tip line since Wednesday. The sheriff’s office is now working on the ongoing investigation with other agencies throughout northern Colorado, including the Greeley Police Department, Fort Collins Police Services, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Frederick Police Department, Longmont Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol, among others.

It has come to the attention of the Criminal Impact Unit through the investigation that some individuals are taking advantage of media reports about a police impersonator to use it as an excuse for being late to or missing work. The sheriff’s office not only wants to remind residents false reporting is a crime, but that it also diverts valuable resources away from catching the real suspect or suspects.

Investigators continue to search for the suspect vehicle, which is described as a black Dodge Charger that might be equipped with emergency lights in the dash, and may or may not be outfitted with magnetic, law enforcement-type signs on the door. It is believed the Charger is a 2016 or similar model.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set white man of medium height with light hair. He might also be wearing dark clothing he is trying to pass off as a police uniform.

As a reminder, the sheriff’s office doesn’t routinely use unmarked cars for traffic enforcement and isn’t during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you are being pulled over by a car that you can’t identify, slow down, put on your emergency flashers and call 911 to confirm the stop is legitimate.

Anyone who thinks they have been pulled over by a police impersonator is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Impact Unit at (970) 304-6464.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies recognized by VFW Post 2121

Two Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies were recently recognized for their service by Greeley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2121.

Weld County Jail Deputy Guadalupe Garza received the Outstanding Officer Award for the detentions side of the agency, while Deputy Carlos Lopez received the award for the patrol side. The awards were presented Feb. 23 during VFW Post 2121’s Americanism Program.

Lopez, originally from the Denver metro area, began his law enforcement career in the mountains before transferring in 2017 to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. He is assigned to District 2, Del Camino, which despite its small size is a high crime area for stolen vehicles, vehicle parts, burglaries, narcotics, assaults and vehicular eluding.

Lopez led the agency in arrests in 2018 and 2019. Last year, he made 77 arrests.

“I’m not just making arrests, but also getting convictions thanks to my awesome supervisors – Sgt. Sean Standridge, Sgt. Kris Haffner, Sgt. Ben Endreson and Sgt. Dana Oakes – who have pushed me to sharpen my investigation skills by thinking outside of the box,” Lopez said. “I’m not just arresting people, I’m arresting bad people who steal and prey on innocent residents, and who lie and cheat the criminal justice system.”

Garza started with the sheriff’s office in September 2012. He is a Deputy III, a CPR instructor and a leader on his shift who both senior and new deputies seek out for advice.

“Deputy Garza is a cool, calm and collected person who has amazing communication skills,” said Weld County Jail Capt. Matt Turner. “I have personally witnessed Deputy Garza talk inmates out of some very poor behavior, and we were happy that there was an opportunity to recognize him.”

Sheriff Steve Reams responds to ACLU lawsuit about COVID-19 in the Weld County Jail

Court documents filed this morning show the Weld County Sheriff’s Office was weeks ahead of the curve in its preparation for a possible COVID-19 outbreak in the Weld County Jail.

The “Declaration of Sheriff Steven Reams,” was filed Monday morning in the U.S. District Court of Colorado in response to a lawsuit levied by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado alleging the sheriff’s office was deliberately indifferent about the COVID-19 pandemic and did little to protect inmates at the Weld County Jail from exposure to the illness, also known as Coronavirus.

In the 28-page response, Reams outlines in detail 81 individual steps his agency took to not only prevent an outbreak in the jail – which were successful for more than three weeks – but also the changes in facility protocols following March 31 when sheriff’s office leadership were notified about the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus in an inmate.

Among some of those notable steps include Feb. 27 when Reams directed his detentions and administrative division captains to review the agency’s policies on inmate screening and evaluations, as well as policies about communicable diseases, and to update them in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in Weld County proper or the Weld County Jail. That same day, the sheriff’s office began doubling its orders of household cleaners, toilet paper and hand sanitizer for the jail in preparation for a possible national shortage due to Coronavirus.

As of Feb. 27, there were only 20 known cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. There were no known cases in Colorado at the time.

On March 4, 12 days before the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment declared a Pandemic Health Emergency, the sheriff’s office acted on recommendations from Human Resources of Weld County and healthcare professionals to begin implementing certain safety precautions for all county employees. Among those recommendations were frequent hand washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering noses and mouths when coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with those exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms, and staying home if employees felt sick.

Many of the same recommendations were applied to inmates at the jail.

On March 13, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office took the first step in reducing its inmate population when it asked its law enforcement partners at the municipal level to issue a court summons or citation for offenses that wouldn’t require mandatory jail incarceration as outlined by state statute. This occurred 11 days before Gov. Jared Polis issued similar guidance for the state’s law enforcement agencies, courts and prisons.

As of Monday, the Weld County Jail population was 513, which is down from 789 on March 1, or 35 percent. With 954 beds, the jail is operating at 54 percent of its bed space.

The ACLU of Colorado lawsuit, filed April 7 on behalf of seven jail inmates, also alleges

the sheriff’s office has been slow to adopt Coronavirus-specific medical services, claiming one inmate was denied care despite displaying “obvious” symptoms of COVID-19. The sheriff’s office investigated that incident and proved it was unsubstantiated.

Furthermore, jail leadership began working on March 6 with medical services contractor Turn Key Health Services on a comprehensive plan to address COVID-19, including acquiring new screening tools, drafting new screening guidelines, hiring float nurses to conduct more frequent, multi-disciplinary rounding to monitor inmates for Coronavirus symptoms, and drafting transitional housing, quarantine and isolation plans, among others.

“In the face of one of the most difficult times in our recent history, the men and women of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office have remained focused on our number one priority; community

safety,” Reams said. “Unfortunately, the claims by the plaintiffs only serve as an attempt to subvert the criminal justice system and the ACLU lawsuit is little more than a thinly veiled politically motivated attack.”

Click here to view the U.S. District Court filing, which contains additional information about Weld County Jail operations amid the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as current charges and a detailed criminal history for each of the ACLU’s clients. The additional attachments only contain information that is otherwise available to any member of the public.

Weld Sheriff’s Office participates in birthday parade for 6-year-old Hudson girl

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office this weekend participated in a multi-agency parade to celebrate the birthday of a Hudson girl.

Jennifer turned 6 years old on Saturday, but because of social distancing and the statewide stay at home order issued in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the girl’s parents were unable to throw their daughter a birthday party.

Colorado State Patrol’s Troop 3A Office in Greeley learned Jennifer would not be able to celebrate her birthday this year with friends and decided to coordinate a parade with other local public safety agencies. A total of 20 vehicles from the state patrol, the sheriff’s office, Hudson Marshal’s Office and the Hudson Fire Protection District participated in the drive-by.

The parade included motorcycles, police cruisers, a fire engine and an ambulance, all of which passed Jennifer’s house with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Several officers and firefighters also wished Jennifer a happy birthday over their vehicle’s public address speaker as she waved from the sidewalk in front of her house.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office would like to wish Jennifer a happy 6th birthday, and we hope by this time next year she’s able to celebrate her 7th with a proper party with all her friends.

Weld deputies seize 10 firearms, arrest one on suspicion of recklessly shooting from car

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a man earlier this week on suspicion of recklessly shooting several different firearms from his car while driving on the south end of the county.

Jeremy Combs, 25, of Fort Collins, was arrested Monday and booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of one count of possession of an illegal weapon, a felony, as well as misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and prohibited use of a weapon. He has since been released from jail on $2,000 bond.

The charges stem from about 9:45 p.m. Monday when deputy Stephen Del Negro responded to a report of shots fired in the 23100 block of Weld County Road 7 in unincorporated Weld County east of Longmont. The caller told dispatchers someone had fired several rounds from a white or silver sedan as it drove south on Weld 7.

When Del Negro arrived at the scene, he spoke to the caller who said he believed the vehicle was made by a foreign manufacturer and that it had a modified exhaust system. Del Negro went out to Weld 7 to search for evidence, locating seven spent 5.56-caliber shell casings and one spent 9mm shell casing. The casings were found in the southbound lane and on the shoulder about 100 yards from the caller’s house.

After recovering the evidence, Del Negro decided to remain in the area in the event the suspected vehicle returned. Shortly before 11 p.m., Del Negro was passed by a silver Lexis sedan with a modified exhaust driving north on Weld 7. Del Negro observed the vehicle not come to a complete stop at Colo. 66 and initiated a traffic stop.

Deputy Brian Hammond responded to the area to assist with the traffic stop. When he and Del Negro approached the car, Hammond said he could see an AR-15-style rifle in plain sight on the rear passenger floorboard, as well as a magazine on the rear seat.

The deputies ordered all three occupants out of the car, including the driver, later identified as Combs, and his two passengers, Stephon Taylor and Jonathon Elrod. When asked by Del Negro, Combs admitted to firing his guns in the air while driving near Weld roads 7 and 28.

Deputies searched Combs, finding a handgun concealed in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. In addition to the rifle and the handgun, deputies also located eight more firearms in the trunk.

Combs told deputies he owned all the guns and he was the only one who fired them. He was subsequently arrested. Taylor and Elrod were cited with reckless endangerment. They were taken to a nearby gas station where they waited for a ride and were released.

The sheriff’s office received similar reports of a vehicle firing weapons from a moving car on April 2 and April 5 in the area of Weld 1 and Colo. 66. Deputies recovered one spent 9mm shell casing in their investigation into those two incidents. Detectives continue to investigate whether Combs is connected to those earlier reports.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld Animal Control officer rescues stuck Grebe

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Animal Control Unit had a unique encounter with one of North America’s migratory bird species.

About 10 a.m. Friday, Animal Control Officer Rebeca Farris responded to a report of a bird not moving in a driveway off Weld County roads 35 and 394 east of LaSalle. When Farris arrived at the scene, she found the bird stuck in the snow.

Turns out the bird was a Grebe, an aquatic diving bird common to North America, Europe and Asia. Excellent swimmers, Grebes can also run on land, but they are prone to falling over due to their feet being located so close to the rear of their bodies.

Farris was able to catch the Grebe by covering it with a blanket and placing it in a cage. After moving the Grebe to her pickup to warm up, Farris called the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Longmont for advice about releasing the bird.

The Center said Grebes commonly become stuck on land. So long as it wasn’t injured, it could be released to any body of water, which is what Farris did.

Weld Sheriff’s Office warning residents about uptick in motor vehicle thefts

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about an increase in motor vehicle thefts and asking residents to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

The sheriff’s office has received reports of motor vehicle and all-terrain vehicle thefts south of Weld County Road 22 between U.S. 85 and Interstate 76. The most active section of the area is northeast of the Aristocrat Ranchettes subdivision and west of Weld 39.

The thefts are generally taking place at night and from storage locations. The sheriff’s office is asking the public for assistance by reporting suspicious activity, getting good descriptions of persons and vehicles without endangering themselves, noting a license plate if possible, and ensuring their property is secure.

Several ATVs also have been stolen from a storage lot in the 4000 block of Camelot Circle in Longmont. On several dates in February and March, an unknown person or persons stole five ATVs and three trailers from that location.

Evidence suggests the suspects scouted the lot several days prior to the thefts. They also used different vehicles to tow away the ATVs and trailers. The suspect vehicles include a possible 2010-2014 black Jeep Cherokee Limited, a possible maroon 2003-2004 Lincoln Town Car and a possible 2010-2014 maroon GMC diesel pickup with a 4x4 sticker on the back side of the bed.

Anyone with information about the suspect vehicles or similar cases is asked to contact Deputy Mathew Rosten at (970) 400-2875 or mrosten@weldgov.com.

Sheriff’s Office warns of old scam that has resurfaced in Weld County

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about an old scam that has resurfaced locally in recent weeks.

Several members of the community have reported receiving an email in which a scammer threatens to post a private and embarrassing video to Facebook unless paid $2,000 worth of Bitcoin. One of the many unsettling aspects of the scam, which likely lends to its success, is the scammer notes in the subject line of the email an accurate screen name and password belonging to the intended victim.

In the body of the email, the scammer claims that they used the targeted victim’s personal information to hack into their computer to install spyware. The scammer further claims that at some point within the last several hundred days the spyware was activated, gaining access to the targeted victim’s laptop camera to record them while they surfed explicit material online.

The scammer claims to have access to the targeted victim’s Facebook account and cellphone contacts. The scammer threatens to randomly send the video to the intended victim’s friends, family and co-workers until they receive a “donation” of $2,000 worth of Bitcoin.

Weld County Crime Analyst Maggie Fitzgerald said there are numerous signs the email is a scam. Of note is the scammer’s desire to be paid in Bitcoin, which is hard to track and commonly used by criminals wanting to disguise transactions.

Scammers often obtain usernames and passwords from data breaches, whether from a bank, hospital or one of millions of online merchants, Fitzgerald said. Scammers don’t actually need access to the dark web, as personal information stolen during a data breach often is posted to the regular web.

“This scam is just as old as the world wide web itself,” Fitzgerald said. “When it comes to investigating these types of reports, we often run into jurisdictional challenges as suspects can be outside of the United States and tracing a cryptocurrency transaction can be difficult.”

Although investigating such scams often leads to dead ends, Fitzgerald said there are several ways people can protect themselves from data breaches and the scams that usually follow.

• Don’t use the same password for multiple websites.
• Especially don’t have the same username and password for email and banking/financial websites.
• Change passwords often.
• Even if you choose a password that is easy to remember, incorporate numbers and symbols, and unusual combinations of upper and lowercase letters to make it more difficult to guess.
• Use caution when it comes to transactions involving cryptocurrencies and always verify who you are dealing with to make sure the individual is a real person.

Click the link for more information about how to protect yourself from data breaches or visit the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Facebook page for more information about identity theft.

Weld County Animal Control officer helps fallen bat

A Weld County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control officer recently helped a member of one of North America’s tiny bat species that had fallen and couldn’t get up.

About 11:30 a.m. April 13, Animal Control Officer Caitlin Perun responded to a house on Hopi Trail in Loveland on a report of a resident who found a bat laying on the ground outside her home on the patio. The bat, a little brown bat, was smaller than the palm of an average person’s hand.

“The thing with bats is if they land on the ground, they often can’t get back up on their own,” Perun said. “He wasn’t sick or injured, he just couldn’t get up.”

In order to move the bat, Perun needed something small so the bat could latch onto it with his feet. She used the cable from her catch pole, which was not only small enough for the bat to grab, but long enough to keep him at a safe distance. Perun moved the bat to a nearby tree.

Little brown bats are a species of endangered, mouse-eared microbats native to Colorado and the rest of North America. Individuals weigh between 5 1/2 to 12 1/2 grams and have a wingspan of about 8 to 10 inches.

Although it can be affected by rabies, the virus is not nearly as pervasive in little brown bats as it is in two of its North American cousins, the big brown bat and the silver-haired bat. The little brown bat is susceptible to white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungus that can occur during hibernation and features visible fungal growth on the nose, ears and wings.

For more information about bats and what to do if you find one, visit ColoradoBatCREW.com.

Weld Animal Control Officer rescues, releases injured box turtle

A local box turtle recently had an injured foot mended thanks to a chance encounter with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

About 3 p.m. April 14, Animal Control Officer Caitlin Perun was on a routine patrol when she noticed a turtle trying to cross Ledyard Road South in Platteville. When she stopped to help the little guy along, she noticed one the turtle’s toes had recently been severed.

Perun picked up the turtle and brought him to a veterinary clinic specializing in exotic pets where he received treatment for his injury. Perun picked the turtle up the next day and returned him to the place where she found him, which happened to be an area in the county where researchers are studying turtle populations.

Note that veterinarians also inspected the damage to the Box turtle’s shell and determined it was stable. The damage was estimated to be about four to five years old and healed.

Weld investigators seek public’s help identifying drive-by shooter

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help identifying a man suspected of randomly firing on workers at an oil and gas site.

At 2:15 p.m. Monday, deputies responded to a report of shots fired at an oil field site near Weld County roads 6 and 29 north of Brighton. Employees reported someone had fired multiple rounds at them and their equipment while driving by in a white SUV. The employees were uninjured.

The vehicle was later identified as a white Chevy Trailblazer featuring a Denver Broncos sticker on the left side of the tailgate and bearing Colorado license plate UQY-913. The driver, and suspected shooter, is described as a stocky white man in his 30s-40s with short dark hair and a goatee (see attached photos). There was at least one other person in the SUV at the time of the shooting.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the incident as a random act of violence and the suspect is considered a threat to public safety. Anyone with information about the suspect or Monday’s shooting is asked to call Det. Anthony Simmons at (970) 400-5376 or Investigations Sgt. Aaron Walker at (970) 400-2856. Reference case number 20W014722.

Anyone who encounters the vehicle is asked to immediately call 911. Do not approach the vehicle, as the suspect is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Arrest warrant issued for Brighton man suspected of firing at oil & gas site

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office has identified and obtained an arrest warrant for a Brighton man suspected of randomly firing at oil field workers at a site on the south side of the county.

Tyler James Van Auken, 31, of Brighton, is wanted on suspicion of menacing and possession of a weapon by a previous offender, both felonies, as well as misdemeanor charges of driving after revocation, prohibited use of weapons and reckless endangerment.

The charges stem from about 2:15 p.m. Monday when deputies responded to a report of shots fired at an oil and gas site located near the intersection of Weld County roads 6 and 29 north of Brighton. Witnesses later told law enforcement they were working at the well pad when a white SUV drove past and fired four or five shots.

The crew foreman chased the SUV and caught up with it when Van Auken pulled over to urinate. The foreman was able to take two pictures with his cellphone of Van Auken and the vehicle before the suspect sped away.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office DOES NOT ADVISE members of the public to chase down armed suspects on their own. Always dial 911.

Deputies were later able to identify the vehicle as a white Chevy Trailblazer featuring a Denver Broncos sticker on the left side of the tailgate. Investigators identified the registered owner and later interviewed her.

The registered owner is not being identified due to her cooperation in the investigation. She told detectives Van Auken was driving her Trailblazer while intoxicated and decided it would be fun to fire randomly out the window. The owner also consented to a search of her vehicle, but investigators were unable to find the suspected firearm.

Investigators have spoken to Van Auken by phone, but he is not cooperating with the sheriff’s office. He refuses to give deputies his location and has said he is not yet ready to turn himself in to law enforcement.

The Investigations Unit is actively searching for Van Auken, who is believed to be hiding out somewhere in the Denver metro area.

Anyone with additional information about Van Auken or Monday’s shooting is asked to call Det. Anthony Simmons at (970) 400-5376 or Investigations Sgt. Aaron Walker at (970) 400-2856. Reference case number 20W014722.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

May
Weld County oil field shooter captured in Denver

A Brighton man suspected of firing randomly on oil field workers at a well pad on the south end of Weld County was arrested Thursday night in Denver.

Tyler James Van Auken, 31, was subsequently booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of menacing and possession of a weapon by a previous offender, both felonies, as well as misdemeanor charges of driving after revocation, prohibited use of weapons and reckless endangerment.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Strike Team tracked Van Auken to a hotel near Denver International Airport. Denver police officers and the Denver Police Department SWAT Team assisted deputies with the arrest.

Earlier this week, the sheriff’s office obtained an arrest warrant for Van Auken after responding to a shots fired call about 2:15 p.m. Monday at an oil and gas site located near the intersection of Weld County roads 6 and 29 north of Brighton. Witnesses told deputies they were working at the well pad when a white SUV drove past and fired four or five shots.

Deputies later identified the vehicle as a white Chevy Trailblazer featuring a Denver Broncos sticker on the left side of the tailgate. Investigators identified and interviewed the registered owner, who said Van Auken was driving her vehicle while intoxicated and decided it would be fun to fire his handgun out the window.

Detectives with the sheriff’s office’s Investigative Unit spoke with Van Auken earlier this week by phone, but he refused to turn himself in or provide deputies with his location. The Strike Team was able to track him to a Denver hotel with the assistance of the FBI’s Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force.

Van Auken is scheduled to appear at 2:30 p.m. today in Weld District Court for a bond hearing.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld deputies respond to shooting, arrest man on suspicion of attempted murder

A Weld County man was arrested Tuesday night after shooting a neighbor over a property dispute.

Brian Fletcher, 51, of Keenesburg, was subsequently booked into the Weld County Jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault, menacing and possession of a weapon by a previous offender, all felonies, as well as misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and prohibited use of a weapon. He remains at the jail on $150,000 bond.

The charges stem from about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday when Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a shooting in the 1900 block of Weld County Road 55, about five miles south of Keenesburg. The caller, Whitney Moore, 67, told dispatchers her husband, Fletcher, had just shot a man.

Moore later told deputies she and her husband had been having problems with their tenant, Richard Warsaw, 64, who lives in a trailer on their property but had stopped paying rent. Moore said she and Fletcher were filling out the required paperwork to begin the eviction process when Fletcher asked his wife he could just shoot Warsaw.

Moore told deputies her husband was agitated about an incident the day before in which he confronted Warsaw about the unpaid rent while armed with a revolver. Fletcher pointed the weapon at Warsaw from a distance of about two feet. Warsaw simply slapped the gun away.

About 3 p.m. Tuesday, Fletcher left the house. When he returned about 15 minutes later, he told Moore to call 911 because he had just shot a man while doing target practice.

Warsaw told deputies a different story, saying he was working on his trailer when Fletcher exited the house, pointed the revolver at him, told him to get off the property and then started firing. Warsaw ran, taking cover behind a Conex-style storage container.

Inside the storage container was Roger Skeers, 55, a friend of Warsaw’s. He told deputies when the shooting started, he saw Warsaw run past the doors of the Conex box. Skeers walked toward the opening to see if he should run too when a bullet ricocheted off one of the doors and struck him in the abdomen. The bullet didn’t penetrate the skin and Skeers sustained only minor injuries.

After deputies arrived at the scene, and following an evaluation by medical personnel, Warsaw found the bullet that struck his friend lying on the ground. He picked it up and handed it to a deputy to secure as evidence.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office response to U.S. District Court order

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office has received the order issued Monday afternoon by Philip Brimmer, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of Colorado, regarding the civil rights lawsuit levied against Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office staff are compiling data about medically vulnerable inmates at the Weld County Jail in accordance with the court’s order. Once that process is complete, the sheriff will decide about future jail operations that take into consideration risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic while also assuring the safety of Weld County residents.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office is not entertaining interview requests at this time.

Fingerprinting services suspended next week for software upgrades

Fingerprinting services will be suspended for two days next week at two Weld County Sheriff’s Office locations to update systems and train staff on the new equipment and software.

All fingerprinting services will be unavailable on Tuesday, May 19, at the Del Camino Substation, 4209 Weld County Road 24 1/2 in Longmont.

On Wednesday, May 20, fingerprinting services for new concealed handgun permits will be unavailable at the Weld County Sheriff’s Office Administration Building, 1950 O St. in Greeley.

For more information, contact Office Manager Michael Johnston at (970) 400-2807 or mjohnston@weldgov.com.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office submits ‘medically vulnerable’ list to court

As you know, a 13-person team of American Civil Liberties Union attorneys set their sights on the Weld County Sheriff’s Office in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic with the alleged intent of protecting inmates in my jail from the potential impacts of the Coronavirus.  The ACLU lobbied that inmates in the jail were at greater risk of infection from COVID-19 and demanded that I advocate for the release of inmates, provide heightened personal protective equipment to the inmates and allow for social distancing of inmates, along with a host of other requests.  The ACLU further defined medically vulnerable inmates as persons:

  • Age 55 or older.

  • Having a chronic health condition, such as cancer, autoimmune disease, chronic lung disease, history of cardiovascular disease, chronic arthritis, chronic liver or kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and HIV, and taking chronic steroids or immunosuppressant medications for chronic conditions.

  • Having history of smoking or other substance abuse disorders.

  • Who are pregnant.

The standards defined by the ACLU are much more encompassing than those set by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for medically vulnerable persons. Nevertheless, when my staff and I began preparing on Feb. 27 for a possible COVID-19 outbreak in the Weld County Jail, we adopted a heightened definition of medically vulnerable that ended up being more in line with the ACLU’s standards. Since then, Weld County Jail leadership has taken more than 80 separate complex, costly and time-consuming actions to prepare for and respond to a constantly changing environment created by a pandemic where there continues to be more questions than answers.

Some of those steps include:

  • Increased sanitation of the jail.

  • Masks for all inmates and staff when available.

  • Providing educational information about the spread of COVID-19 to all inmates and staff.

  • Limiting the movement of all inmates inside the jail.

  • The eventual lock down of the entire facility for a 14-day quarantine of every inmate.

  • The designation of a medical isolation unit.

  • Adopting revised inmate intake processing and screening protocols.

We welcomed on two occasions the ACLU, its attorneys and its designated infectious disease expert to inspect the Weld County Jail and its operations in relation to COVID-19, and to document its findings. Unfortunately, in early April, the ACLU filed litigation against me in my professional capacity as the Sheriff of Weld County, alleging I was deliberately indifferent to the health and safety of the inmates inside my jail facility in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made operational decisions at the jail based off the most contemporary information provided by the CDC and the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, including acquiring PPE for both inmates and staff.  I have maintained since the outset EVERYONE is at risk of contracting COVID-19, which is why we employed the most aggressive tactics available to prevent Coronavirus from entering the facility in the first place in an effort to protect ALL inmates, including those who are deemed medically vulnerable.

Although our initial focus was on prevention, we weren’t so naïve to believe we could keep Coronavirus out of the jail forever. Sadly, we experienced an outbreak in late March in which 10 inmates were infected with COVID-19. Since then, a total of 12 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 (two recent arrestees were already positive for Coronavirus when they were booked into the jail). Eighteen Detentions deputies also have tested positive for the virus, with 17 already cleared to return to work. The inmates who tested positive were provided with professional medical care and the Detentions staff were sent home to self-isolate.

After the outbreak, our focus shifted from prevention to containment and eradication of COVID-19 in the jail. On April 1, we took the very aggressive step of enacting a 14-day quarantine of the entire jail to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading throughout the facility.  Since that time, the jail has remained in a heightened state of isolation with inmates divided into small “family groups,” as defined by the CDC,  so their health could be more closely monitored by medical staff and to prevent another outbreak should COVID-19 reappear in the jail.

On April 30, I testified at a hearing in the U.S. District Court of Colorado in which the ACLUsought a preliminary injunction to force me to change operations in accordance with what it believes are more appropriate for my jail.  On May 11, the court provided narrowly focused injunctive relief to the ACLU and the inmates it represented. The judge’s order stated I had shown deliberate indifference to certain inmates in the jail by not specifically identifying them as medically vulnerable under the CDC’s definition. In addition, the judge provided a list of recommended actions to protect medically vulnerable inmates from COVID-19, assuming those actions do not impair the overall operation of the facility.

One of those court-ordered actions was to compile a list of medically vulnerable inmates in accordance with the CDC’s definition. We decided to go a step further by compiling lists of medically vulnerable inmates taking both the CDC and the ACLU’s parameters into account. Yesterday, we submitted those lists to the court, which state we have 89 medically vulnerable inmates as defined by the CDC and 390 when using the ACLU’s standards.

The next step is to outline for the court a plan to either single-cell all medically vulnerable inmates or house them together in small family units to protect them from COVID-19. I can honestly say that we don’t have the availability to give 89 medically vulnerable inmates their own cell without completely placing the rest of the inmate population at a heightened risk.  These factors are why we decided to take aggressive action from the beginning to protect ALL inmates from the Coronavirus. I also have serious reservations about housing all medically vulnerable inmates together in small units, as I believe it could have dire consequences should we have another COVID-19 outbreak in the jail.

Never in my six years as your elected sheriff have I been more personally disappointed by a court’s ruling. I am deeply offended the term “deliberate indifference” was applied to me and my decisions as they pertain to the operations of the Weld County Jail. I believe the entire jail staff should be commended for their diligence and dedication during one of the most trying times in recent memory.

At no point since March 1 – three days after we began planning for a possible Coronavirus outbreak in the jail – has there been more than 10 COVID-19 positive inmates incarcerated at the Weld County Jail (There has been a running total of 12 inmates including the two arrestees noted above who were already positive when booked into the jail). That’s taking into consideration an average daily population of 589 inmates since that time (There were 789 inmates on March 1, 450 inmates on May 18 and a low of 430 on May 16).

Also since March 1, a total of 2,232 people have been in the custody of the Weld County Jail. With 12 total positive cases, that means we’ve limited the number of COVID-19 infections to .54 percent of those who have been booked into the facility.

I think the data supports my belief that we took appropriate actions to protect EVERY inmate at the Weld County Jail from the threat of COVID-19, particularly when taking into consideration far more serious outbreaks that have come to light at other agencies and facilities around the state and throughout the country. We truly believe the ruling that resulted from this frivolous ACLU lawsuit forces my staff and I to take a step backward in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Weld County Jail. Nevertheless, the judge issued an order and we will adhere to it to the greatest extent possible, while also maintaining the highest level of care for ALL inmates and staff.

I believe my jail operation has been, and continues to be, one of the finest correctional facilities in the country.  I am exceedingly proud of the efforts of my deputies and staff at the Weld County Jail. I know we have done all we can to protect the public and the entire inmate population during this COVID-19 pandemic.

I don’t know if the ACLU will continue its efforts to disrupt operations at the jail, but the Weld County Sheriff’s Office is poised to respond to this ever-changing challenge as I consider the most appropriate legal response through the court process.

I continue to be humbled by the support shown for me and my deputies during this difficult time.  I assure you the Weld County Sheriff’s Office remains more committed than ever to the mission of public safety, both in the community and at the Weld County Jail.

- Steve Reams, Weld County Sheriff

Highlands Ranch teen booked on felony charge 1 hour after release from Weld County Jail

An 18-year-old Highlands Ranch teenager was booked Thursday morning into the Weld County Jail less than one hour after he was released following an arrest on suspicion of speeding.

Nathaniel Neisler, 18, was arrested early Thursday morning by the Platteville Police Department on suspicion of driving more than 40 mph over the posted speed limit. He was booked at 5:34 a.m. into the Weld County Jail on the traffic offense and then released at 6:47 a.m. on a personal recognizance bond.

Less than 45 minutes later, at 7:30 a.m., the Weld County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a possible vehicle trespass at the Weld County Motor Pool. Deputies responded and contacted a teenager in the area, later identified as Neisler.

Neisler told deputies he had just been released from the jail and admitted to entering a vehicle parked at the motor pool by opening an unlocked door. Neisler said he took $2.08 from the vehicle, adding he planned to use the money to make a phone call as soon as he found a payphone.

Neisler was returned to the jail and rebooked on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespass of a vehicle, a Class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison. Neisler is being held without bond pending his first appearance in Weld District Court.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

All three suspects from February Brighton shooting captured

All three suspects wanted in connection to a February shooting at a house party in Brighton have been captured following an almost three months long investigation by law enforcement agencies in Colorado and Massachusetts.

Bobbie Blake, 18, of the Denver metro area, was arrested Thursday in Brewster, Mass. He was the last suspect wanted for the shooting that left behind five gunshot wound victims.

On Feb. 29, Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies along with Brighton and Fort Lupton police responded to a report of a shooting at a house near Weld County Road 2 (168th Avenue) and Starr Lane, just north of Brighton city limits. Upon arrival at the scene, officers found the five gunshot victims had sustained various degrees of injury.

Witnesses told law enforcement the shooting was perpetrated by three young men, including one Latino and two African Americans. With the assistance of the public and a Denver area gang task force, Weld County detectives were able to identify 17-year-old Denver resident Eugene Jaszczyk as one of the suspected shooters.

Jaszczyk was arrested March 10 by Denver police with assistance from the FBI’s Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force. He is charged as an adult in Weld District Court with five counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Weld detectives identified the second suspected shooter as 17-year-old Aurora resident Jerimiah Peterson. On May 5, detectives, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s Strike Team, Aurora police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force executed search and arrest warrants at Peterson’s home.

Peterson was arrested during the execution of the warrants. Detectives also found numerous firearms, as well as evidence tying him to several unsolved crimes in the Denver metro area. Peterson also is charged as an adult in Weld District Court with five counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection to the Brighton house party shooting.

Detectives determined the third suspect, Blake, fled to Brewster, Mass. following the shooting. Detectives sought a nationwide extradition warrant for Blake on five counts of attempted first-degree murder. He was arrested Thursday by Brewster authorities.

“These three young men perpetrated a senseless act of violence that will forever change the lives of their victims,” said Weld County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Sgt. Aaron Walker. “By providence, all of their victims are alive today to see justice served.”

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office wants to extend its gratitude to the public, as well as multiple law enforcement agencies for their assistance during the investigation. Cooperating agencies include the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, RAVEN (Regional Anti-Violence Network), the Denver, Aurora, Fort Lupton, Brighton and Greeley police departments, and Massachusetts law enforcement agencies.

Pictured in the photo gallery clockwise from top left are Eugene Jaszczyk, 17, following his arrest March 10 in Denver, Bobbie Blake, 18, following his arrest Thursday in Brewster, Mass., and Jerimiah Peterson, 17, following his arrest May 5 at his Aurora home.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrest suspected police impersonator

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man Friday on suspicion of impersonating a police officer.

Nathan Gilbert Lopez, 34, of Brighton, was arrested Friday morning following a police chase on suspicion of felony eluding, two counts of reckless driving, speeding and driving without proof of insurance. He also faces a possible felony charge for impersonating a police officer.

The police impersonation charge stems from Thursday when a Weld County couple reported an unusual incident with the driver of a black Dodge Charger. The couple was towing a horse trailer to their home in the Arrowhead subdivision when about 2 p.m. they were nearly struck by the Charger when it ran a red light at 65th Avenue and 37th Street.

The driver proceeded to follow the couple to their home. When they arrived, the couple confronted the man and asked him why he had followed them.

The man, later identified as Lopez, said he was an undercover Weld County Sheriff’s Office deputy detailed to the FBI. The couple later told deputies that during the conversation, Lopez several times pounded his fist onto the dash and would routinely stop to talk to someone inside the vehicle, but the couple couldn’t see anyone else inside the car.

The couple also told deputies Lopez asked to see their identification, which is considered an official police act. Lopez finally left when the couple threatened to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

About 8:45 a.m. Friday, deputies on patrol on U.S. 85 near Fort Lupton encountered a black Dodge Charger matching the description from yesterday’s incident. The Charger’s plates matched information deputies gathered the previous day.

Deputies activated lights and siren to pull the Charger over near Weld County Road 14 1/2, but Lopez fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Deputies pursued Lopez south on U.S. 85, ending the pursuit at Weld 8 due to public safety concerns.

Lopez continued south on U.S. 85, turning west on 168th Avenue (Weld 2). At 8:58 a.m., Lopez crashed with another vehicle at Tucson Street near Brighton. Multiple agencies responded to the crash.

Lopez was taken into custody and transported to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. Lopez admitted to investigators he told the couple he was an undercover deputy with the sheriff’s office.

Investigators don’t think Lopez is tied to a series of police impersonation reports in Eaton, Greeley and elsewhere in northern Colorado at the beginning of the COVID-19 stay at home orders.

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.

June

 

Weld County Sheriff’s Office begins COVID-19 testing of all jail inmates

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office began testing on Wednesday all inmates of the Weld County Jail for the respiratory illness COVID-19.

Last week, the sheriff’s office requested 1,500 testing kits from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The test kits arrived Tuesday at the jail.

Staff will assist the jail’s medical provider, Turnkey Health Clinics, with administering the tests to all 468 inmates. Testing of the existing jail population is expected to take two days. Results are expected early next week. Testing of new arrestees will be ongoing.

COVID-19 testing supplies have been scarce throughout the country since the Coronavirus pandemic arrived in the U.S. in late January. Early on, the sheriff’s office only received enough kits to test inmates who were showing symptoms of COVID-19, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

With supplies now more readily available, Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams decided last week to request several thousand kits to test the entire inmate population even though widespread testing of asymptomatic people is not recommended by the CDC.

“We’re testing the entire inmate population out of an over-abundance of caution because of the challenges posed by asymptomatic carriers who can spread the infection without knowing they have COVID-19,” Reams said. “We want to know how widespread COVID-19 truly is in the facility and determine if the protocols we began to implement in late February successfully mitigated the spread of Coronavirus in the jail.”

Inmates who test positive will be medically isolated. In order to be removed from medical isolation, an inmate must receive two negative tests in a row.

About March 30, the Weld County Jail experienced a COVID-19 outbreak among its inmates. It was later determined seven people contracted the virus during that initial wave.

To date, a running total of 10 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of those 10 were positive prior to their booking into the jail. State statute mandates a period of incarceration for certain offenses even in times of stay at home orders or during a pandemic health emergency.

Of the 10 total inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, two remain in the jail. Both were on medical isolation as of Wednesday in accordance with CDC guidelines, as they have each received one negative test for the virus. Results of a second test are pending.

Eighteen jail deputies have tested positive for COVID-19 to date. All have returned to work.

Due to logistical issues, testing is limited to jail inmates. The sheriff’s office continues to encourage all employees to seek testing if they are feeling ill or think they’ve come into close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive.

Prairie High School graduate awarded County Sheriffs of Colorado scholarship

A Prairie High School graduate was recognized earlier this week as the Weld County winner of the annual County Sheriffs of Colorado college scholarship.

Loralei Carrol, 18, of New Raymer received her award letter and certificate Tuesday from Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams. Carroll graduated in May after earning a cumulative GPA of 3.966. She is attending the Academy of Natural Therapy in Greeley where she will pursue an associate degree in licensed massage therapy.

County Sheriffs of Colorado offered a total of 30 awards of $500 each this year to deserving high school and college students in Colorado to fund higher-level educational expenses for the 2020-2021 academic year.  

A citizens’ committee selected the winner for each county. Committees made their selections based upon criteria established by County Sheriffs of Colorado, including leadership, merit, character, involvement, purpose and need. Applicants were required to be full-time, legal Colorado residents who planned to attend a Colorado university, college or trade school.

County Sheriffs of Colorado established the scholarship program in 1978. Since then, this effort has continued as a meaningful expression of the sheriffs’ confidence in and respect for education and training. Monies for the program are derived, in part, from the County Sheriffs of Colorado honorary membership fund, which consists of contributions from individuals and businesses.

 

23 Weld County inmates test positive for Coronavirus following jail-wide testing

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office received Monday the results of COVID-19 testing of all inmates at the Weld County Jail.

Last week, the jail tested 392 inmates for COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. Of those, 23 tested positive. All 23 are asymptomatic.

There were 468 inmates in the jail when testing began last Wednesday. Only inmates who have been in the facility for more than 14 days were tested, in accordance with recommendations by the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment. However, testing of new inmates is ongoing.

All inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 were separated from the rest of the jail population. The entire facility will be on quarantine for the next 14 days.

Weld County Jail suspends inmate visitation due to COVID-19 test results

The Weld County Jail has suspended all personal visitation for inmates, including remote and lobby visits, until further notice.

The decision was made Tuesday in the wake of facility-wide testing which revealed 23 inmates are positive for COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus.

Last week, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office tested 392 of 468 inmates of the jail. The agency received the results of those tests on Monday.

All 23 inmates who tested positive are asymptomatic. A second round of facility-wide testing takes place in two weeks.

The decision to suspend jail visitation does not apply to professional visitors, such as defense attorneys.