DILLON — A Fairplay man was arrested for harassment following an alleged racist diatribe against employees at a thrift store in Dillon last week.
Duane Andrew Jones, 52, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of harassment and bias-motivated crime as a result of the incident, along with a petty offense charge of disorderly conduct.
At about 4:50 p.m. Nov. 6, Dillon Police Department officers were dispatched to the Summit Thrift and Treasure store in Dillon, a nonprofit thrift store on Fielder Avenue that helps to support the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, on a report of a customer causing a scene inside.
On arrival, officers contacted a man, later identified as Jones, in the parking lot. Officers reported that Jones was animated in his demeanor and was making statements that he was being “harassed by Mexicans,” according to a police report.
Inside, employees had a different story. The store’s cashier said she recognized Jones when he entered the shop — he’d allegedly made a disturbance earlier that day at the store’s Breckenridge location — and went to the back to warn her manager.
The store manager told police that she walked to the front of the store when Jones was ready to check out, and that’s when the conflict began, according to records. Jones allegedly showed her a picture on his phone of “his people building the wall to keep all of the Mexicans out” along with a number of other derogatory remarks aimed at Mexicans.
Store employees said Jones then left the store without paying for a hat. The manager followed him out to photograph his license plate before returning to the store. Jones followed her back into the store and threw the hat at her, according to the report. According to the cashier, Jones continued to make pejorative and racist comments before leaving, including threats along the lines of “I’m coming for all of you.”
Witnesses reported that people in the store were “stressed and frightened” by the incident, and store employees locked the door and called the police once Jones left. According to the report, Jones got in his truck and continued to circle the parking lot until police arrived.
Officers placed Jones under arrest on the grounds of a bias-motivated crime, a misdemeanor. According to the Colorado criminal code, “a person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin … by words or conduct, knowingly places another person in fear of imminent lawless action directed at that person or that person’s property …”
Jones also was arrested on charges of misdemeanor harassment and disorderly conduct, a petty offense, and taken to the Summit County Detention Facility.
Dillon Police Chief Mark Heminghous said racially motivated crimes like this are rare in town, noting the most recent incident he could recall was an act of vandalism at the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in 2016, when a swastika and other inflammatory symbols were spray-painted on the building.
But Heminghous emphasized that racial harassment is illegal and said anyone who experiences it shouldn’t hesitate to call the police.
“We continually hear about incidents second- and third-hand,” Heminghous said. “But we’d like to hear about them firsthand. I’d encourage people to call us at the time when things like this take place.
“Everyone should be aware of their surroundings, and when you encounter people like this, call the police. We want to come take care of these incidents. It’s illegal, and we want to be able to address those incidents when they take place.”