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Man arrested for racial harassment at Dillon thrift store

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.”

Vail Valley chain check is another sign of winter

VAIL — Tire chains are your friend, especially if Interstate 70 is snowy and slick and you’re a trucker trying to make a deadline.

The Vail Police Department and Colorado State Patrol are also your friends. They spent several hours Wednesday making sure commercial vehicles rolling through town were carrying tire chains, which Colorado law requires. Between October and May, all commercial vehicles must carry tire chains between Dotsero and Morrison.

“If there is a chain law in effect, someone is checking,” Vail police officer Nick Deering said.

Mass vs. velocity

Vail police cars and Colorado State Patrol cruisers were lined up at 250-yard intervals in the chain-up area near the East Vail exit — 250 yards because an 80,000-pound vehicle needs room to stop. As they pull off the highway you get a sense of how big a big rig really is. Get in the way and you’ll get a physics lesson in mass vs. velocity.

“Mass always wins,” Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jake Best said.

The trucks were stopped for less than one minute, including the time it took to exchange pleasantries and check to make sure the drivers are carrying chains and the foul weather gear they’re supposed to.

Colorado State Trooper Jacob Best checks commercial vehicles for chains on a chain check Wednesday in Vail. The state patrol and Vail Police Department conducted the checks.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

“Obviously they have a job to do and deadlines to meet. We don’t want to hold them up too long,” Deering said.

There was this one guy, though. He was sitting in the tractor part of a tractor-trailer rig that he had just bought in California and was driving it to points east. He wasn’t carrying chains. He sat in the cab of his bright yellow rig for a couple of hours, looking like a ray of morning sunshine, but not feeling like one. He declined to comment.

A couple of other drivers were not carrying chains. They received enlightenment from the Vail police and the Colorado State Patrol, who extracted promises for better behavior in the future.

Chain-free is not free

Chain-free behavior is becoming progressively more expensive.

The first fine for not carrying chains is $50 and a $17 surcharge.

Not having chains when the chain laws are in effect will cost you $500 and a $79 surcharge.

Colorado State Patrol checks commercial vehicles for chains Tuesday in Vail. If they had chains they were able to go, and if not were issued a ticket for not carrying chains.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Not having chains when you’re supposed to and blocking the highway will cost you $1,000 and a $200 surcharge.

On the other hand, tire chains for your tractor-trailer can cost a few hundred bucks for a high-quality set.

If you’re mechanically impaired, you can hire a service that will sell you tire chains, and even put them on your truck. That’ll cost you up to $500, Best said.

Enterprising capitalists can occasionally be found in chain-up areas selling tire chains to truckers. Their price is whatever the market will bear.

Some truckers claim ignorance, even though they’ve driven past dozens of those large, rectangular information signs along I-70 beginning at the Utah and Kansas state lines, reminding truckers that chains are mandatory, not optional. OK, say it’s dark outside and the reflective information signs escape your attention. Colorado has those huge illuminated signs over the highway repeatedly pointing out that drivers are required to carry tire chains. Some still feign ignorance.

“They say they don’t know?!?” Yes they do,” Best said. “We really prefer not to write those tickets.”

Those on four wheels are not exempt either. Get caught with bald or bald-ish tires and you can be fined $100 with a $33 surcharge. Block the highway because of your bald tires and your fine skyrockets to $500 with a $57 surcharge — about what it costs for a set of really good new tires.

Vail police seeking good Samaritans who helped unconscious woman

The Vail Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating the good Samaritans who helped transport an unconscious woman to Vail Health Hospital in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 13. Information about the circumstances surrounding her discovery could aid police in the investigation to determine how her injuries were sustained.

Police were notified by Vail Health at approximately 2:20 a.m. Wednesday upon the arrival of the 35-year-old patient, who was suffering from severe head injuries. She had been transported to the emergency room by the good Samaritans after her discovery in the 2400 block of Garmisch Drive in West Vail. Due to the severity of her injuries, she was airlifted to a hospital in the Denver Metro area for medical care.

The Vail Police Department would like to speak to these good Samaritans and thank them for their efforts. If you have any information pertaining to this incident, or can help put investigators in touch with these good Samaritans, call Detective Randy Braucht, 970-479-2339 or email rbraucht@vailgov.com.

Man accused, tried for double murder in El Jebel asks for more privileges

EAGLE — Williams Amaya bathed his bullets in holy water, then fatally shot his aunt and uncle in their El Jebel home in July 2014 because, he said, they were possessed by Lucifer and he had been told kill Lucifer.

Amaya no longer believes his victims were Lucifer’s children and he’s remorseful for killing them, his state mental hospital psychiatrists testified Wednesday during a videoconference hearing from the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

Amaya wants to travel off the hospital grounds while supervised. It’s all part of his rehabilitation, said Dr. Marika Bower, one of his psychiatrists. Right now, he has access to the entire 300-acre campus, said Dr. Jon Eggert, another of Amaya’s psychiatrists.

Eggert said public safety is their primary concern and that Amaya is a “low to moderate” risk for violent behavior.

If Amaya’s request is granted, he would be able to travel in the Pueblo area with a supervising hospital staff member. It would be good for his rehabilitation program, Bower said.

District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman said he would issue a written ruling.

Psychiatrist claims PTSD

A jury found that Amaya was not sane when he murdered his uncle, Eliseo Lopez, 42, then his aunt, Mayra Lorena Lopez, 40, in the living room of their El Jebel home. Amaya was living with them at the time. He was sent to the state mental hospital for treatment and possible rehabilitation. How long he’ll be there is indeterminate.

Bower said Amaya suffers from PTSD, stemming from physical and emotional abuse as a child, as well as being forced to move from El Salvador to the United States with his parents.

“It wasn’t until I was in maximum security that I realized my aunt and uncle were not Lucifer. I feel remorse about this … I was sick at the time,” Bower said Amaya told her for one of her reports read during Wednesday’s hearing.

The shootings

On the day of the shootings, Amaya drove from El Jebel to a sporting goods store in Grand Junction where he purchased the murder weapon, a .380 caliber handgun. On the way home, he stopped to eat in an Italian restaurant chain and in a church to bathe the bullets in holy water.

After he returned to his aunt’s and uncle’s home, an argument broke out about the family dog. Amaya murdered his aunt and uncle, then stormed around the house looking for the Lopez’ two sons. The boys escaped and called 911.

Police tracked Amaya’s cell phone and surrounded him holed up at his employer’s business.

According to testimony during his sanity hearings, Amaya sometimes insisted that Bill and Hillary Clinton were his parents, that Chelsea Clinton is his sister, that his grandfather is John Wayne, that Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are either his sisters or romantic interests, and that he’s a spy butcher employed by the federal; government.

Annabelle Florez, Amaya’s psychiatric nurse practitioner, testified Wednesday Amaya’s request for stronger medication a “positive thing.” It cut down on his auditory hallucinations, “the voices,” Flores said.

Amaya is no longer suffering from psychotic delusions, his therapists said during Wednesday’s hearing. He no longer reports that he is the son of Lucifer and that his family members are famous celebrities.

“He is very adamant that he does not want those symptoms back,” Bower said.

Man wanted for flooding Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge arrested when he shows up for different court hearing

The man charged with flooding the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge in October was arrested Nov. 7 when he showed up for a court date on an unrelated criminal charge.

Glenwood Springs Police issued a warrant for the arrest of Khory Gagner, 30, on Oct. 15. When Gagner showed up for a scheduled court hearing for unrelated in Glenwood Springs on Nov. 7, law enforcement took him into custody, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Gagner allegedly used a fire extinguisher to break a water pipe in the stairwell of the Hot Springs Lodge around 3:40 a.m. Oct. 14, which flooded several floors below, according to court documents.

Surveillance footage from the lodge shows a man, whom police identified as Gagner from previous contacts with law enforcement, entering the front door of the hotel around 3:30 a.m., and exiting through a different door around 3:40.

When police arrived at 3:42 a.m., they saw 1 inch of water on the fourth floor, and 5 inches of water on the third floor.

Director of Operations Kevin Flohr said. “He did it from the highest floor, flooding four of our levels on the east end of our building creating a massive amount of water damage,” Director of Operations Kevin Flohr told the Post Independent in October.

Carpets on the third and fourth floors were “completely soaked with water,” according to court records, and firefighters had to use squeegees to push water out of the third floor. The second floor ceiling was dripping water as well.

The police ruled out the possibility of a malfunction in the burst pipe at the top of the stairwell, and saw marks on the cap as though it had been hit with something.

The entire hotel had to be evacuated, and multiple witnesses said the heard loud banging sounds before the water started flowing.

A fire extinguisher, with dents on the bottom matching the cap of the water pipe, was found outside the hotel.

One witness told police that after the alarm went off, she looked out the fourth-floor balcony and saw someone hiding in the shrubs. The witness said the person was possibly drunk, and stumbled as he ran off.

Hotel staff initially estimated the cost of the damage was above $20,000.

Gagner’s criminal record is extensive. He has four other open felony cases in Garfield County, as well as a misdemeanor traffic charge in Jefferson County.

In 2008, Gagner pleaded guilty to his involvement in robbing two stores in the Roaring Fork Valley and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and four years probation.

Gagner also faced trouble when he was caught breaking into a Basalt restaurant and made a plate of nachos late one night in 2010.

Gagner’s active Garfield County cases include felony traffic violations, vehicular eluding, burglary and failure to appear for court.

He is currently being held in Garfield County jail on $10,000 bond.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Man wanted for flooding Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge arrested when he shows up for different court hearing

The man charged with flooding the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge in October was arrested Nov. 7 when he showed up for a court date on an unrelated criminal charge.

Glenwood Springs Police issued a warrant for the arrest of Khory Gagner, 30, on Oct. 15. When Gagner showed up for a scheduled court hearing for unrelated in Glenwood Springs on Nov. 7, law enforcement took him into custody, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Gagner allegedly used a fire extinguisher to break a water pipe in the stairwell of the Hot Springs Lodge around 3:40 a.m. Oct. 14, which flooded several floors below, according to court documents.

Surveillance footage from the lodge shows a man, whom police identified as Gagner from previous contacts with law enforcement, entering the front door of the hotel around 3:30 a.m., and exiting through a different door around 3:40.

When police arrived at 3:42 a.m., they saw 1 inch of water on the fourth floor, and 5 inches of water on the third floor.

Director of Operations Kevin Flohr said. “He did it from the highest floor, flooding four of our levels on the east end of our building creating a massive amount of water damage,” Director of Operations Kevin Flohr told the Post Independent in October.

Carpets on the third and fourth floors were “completely soaked with water,” according to court records, and firefighters had to use squeegees to push water out of the third floor. The second floor ceiling was dripping water as well.

The police ruled out the possibility of a malfunction in the burst pipe at the top of the stairwell, and saw marks on the cap as though it had been hit with something.

The entire hotel had to be evacuated, and multiple witnesses said the heard loud banging sounds before the water started flowing.

A fire extinguisher, with dents on the bottom matching the cap of the water pipe, was found outside the hotel.

One witness told police that after the alarm went off, she looked out the fourth-floor balcony and saw someone hiding in the shrubs. The witness said the person was possibly drunk, and stumbled as he ran off.

Hotel staff initially estimated the cost of the damage was above $20,000.

Gagner’s criminal record is extensive. He has four other open felony cases in Garfield County, as well as a misdemeanor traffic charge in Jefferson County.

In 2008, Gagner pleaded guilty to his involvement in robbing two stores in the Roaring Fork Valley and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and four years probation.

Gagner also faced trouble when he was caught breaking into a Basalt restaurant and made a plate of nachos late one night in 2010.

Gagner’s active Garfield County cases include felony traffic violations, vehicular eluding, burglary and failure to appear for court.

He is currently being held in Garfield County jail on $10,000 bond.

Grand Junction man busted in Vail Valley after alleged burglary and high-speed chase

If you drive your rental car to rob a house in Garfield County, do not stop for fuel in Gypsum on your way to return it to the Eagle County Airport.

Edgar Lukoff is accused of all that and more.

Lukoff, 45, of Grand Junction, is accused of robbing a house in No Name while the residents were home, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

The residents called the police around 11:30 a.m. Police put out a BOLO — Be On The Lookout — for Lukoff and the white rented Toyota Camry he was driving.

Lukoff might have been on his way to the Eagle County Regional Airport where he rented the Camry, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jake Best said.

“The white Camry was rented in Gypsum. That was a good indicator that he would be headed back east,” Best said.

He was. Lukoff was eastbound on I-70 when he pulled off the highway at the Gypsum exit, where he would get off the highway to get to the airport. He stopped at a gas station and pulled up to a pump. Lukoff looked “surprised” when a State Patrol trooper pulled up behind him and told him he was under arrest, Best said.

“He did not comply,” Best said.

Lukoff jumped back in the rented Camry, dodged a stop stick — a device designed to deflate tires — in the gas station driveway and pulled back onto I-70 eastbound at Gypsum.

The ensuing high-speed chase topped 100 mph as Lukoff weaved through traffic, pursued by three Colorado State Patrol vehicles and two Eagle County Sheriff’s vehicles, Best said.

Lukoff stopped along I-70 before reaching the Eagle exit, about seven miles from Gypsum. He jumped out of this rental car, ran down an embankment, vaulted over a deer fence, ran through the Eagle County fairgrounds and onto a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Eagle River.

As he was running, Lukoff looked back and saw a State Patrol trooper, younger and faster and gaining on him. Lukoff gave up the chase, Best said.

Meanwhile, CSP troopers had radioed ahead and were waiting along I-70 with stop sticks and patrol vehicles to intercept him, Best said.

“We’re just happy he was taken into the custody and no one was injured,” Best said.

Lukoff was returned to the Garfield County jail because that’s where the escapade started. So far, Garfield County authorities charged him with felony burglary and criminal trespass for the No Name robbery. He is also charged with vehicular eluding and reckless endangerment in Eagle County.

Vail flag burning suspect turns himself in, faces arson charges

A Vail Valley man accused of burning an American flag turned himself in Tuesday to face arson charges.

Mitchell Hamilton, 22, of EagleVail, is accused of burning an American flag on Vail’s Bridge Street at around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, according to police dispatch logs. The flag had been hanging outside a Vail Village business, Vail police said.

After Vail police released a surveillance photo, Hamilton’s face was splashed all over social media.

Hamilton said he was contacted by friends who saw him on social media posts. He turned himself in at approximately 12:20 p.m. Tuesday to the Vail Police Department.

Hamilton is charged with second-degree arson and criminal mischief because he set fire to someone else’s property, not because he burned an American flag, Vail Police said.

“The Vail Police Department respects and protects all citizens’ ability to express their First Amendment rights. The flag was not Hamilton’s property and was posted on a building on Bridge Street,” the department stated in a press release.

In the same release, the Vail Police Department said the incident created a dangerous situation that could have resulted in additional items catching fire.

Vail police thanked the public for the numerous phone calls and tips received in reference to this incident.

228 arrested across Colorado during Halloween DUI enforcement period

FRISCO — A total of 228 drivers were arrested for driving impaired during the state’s Halloween DUI enforcement period, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The enforcement period, part of The Heat is On campaign, ran from Oct. 31 through Nov. 4 with 91 law enforcement agencies taking part. The 228 arrests represent a considerable decrease from 378 arrests made during the same period last year across the state.

“Increased DUI enforcement is crucial over holiday weekends to ensure all Coloradans get to their destinations safely,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a news release. “If you choose to drink or consume marijuana, don’t drive. Any amount of alcohol or marijuana consumption can hinder one’s ability to drive.”

Throughout the state, the Denver Police Department recorded the highest number of arrests (25), followed by the Colorado Springs Police Department (23) and El Paso Sheriff’s Office (19).

The Heat is On will return Nov. 22 for a 10-day Thanksgiving holiday enforcement period. Last year, 593 drivers were arrested during that enforcement campaign.

“There is never an excuse to drive impaired with the many alternative ride options available,” Colorado State Patrol Chief Col. Matthew Packard said in the release. “As we move closer to the 2019 holiday season, we will continue to stop impaired drivers to keep everyone on Colorado roadways safe.”

Vail police seek information about motorcycle theft

The Vail Police Department is releasing surveillance photos from the Solaris parking garage as it seeks assistance from the public in locating a 2005 to 2010 blue Jeep Grand Cherokee. The owner of the vehicle may have information related to the theft of a 2017 KTM 250 XC motorized dirt bike which was stolen from the Solaris garage, located at 141 East Meadow Drive in Vail Village, at approximately 6:05 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5. 

The vehicle has two Denver Broncos stickers located in the lower corners of the rear windshield. The license plate on the vehicle is an unknown Colorado temporary plate. The male party shown in one of the surveillance photos was driving the vehicle.

If you know the identity of the driver, have any information on the location of the vehicle or any other information about the theft, please contact Detective Lachlan Crawford at lcrawford@vailgov.com or 970-389-4402.