“Deputies attempted to assist with verbal commands to de-escalate the situation from the front porch,” the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office stated in a release. “It was reported the male subject came outside with a gun. Shots were fired which resulted in the fatality of the armed male subject. No other injuries were reported.”
District Attorney Heidi McCollum confirmed she has received the investigation from CBI, and her office is in the process of review.
“Upon completion of that review, I will have more information to share as to what course of action will be taken by this office,” McCollum said.
The DA’s office has no timetable as to when that determination will be issued, McCollum said. The DA’s office has not made the CBI report available to the public.
Family of Christian Glass to receive $19 million in settlement over son’s 2021 police shooting death
The state of Colorado and three local law enforcement agencies agreed to a record $19 million settlement in the death of Christian Glass, a 22-year-old who was shot and killed by police in June in Silver Plume after he crashed his car and called 911 for help.
Along with the financial agreement, the state of Colorado and the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office have agreed to non-financial concessions that include using Glass’s death in police training scenarios to teach the importance of de-escalation, the creation of a crisis response team in Clear Creek County and an agreement that Glass’s parents can participate in law enforcement training by speaking about the loss of their son.
Three law enforcement agencies issued statements saying Glass’s death was unnecessary and preventable while pledging to do better for people in crisis in the future. And Clear Creek County Sheriff Rick Albers apologized for Glass’s killing. That apology was mandated in the settlement agreement, according to documents provided to The Denver Post by the Glass family’s lawyers.
“The Sheriff acknowledges that his officers failed to meet expectations in their response to Christian Glass when he called for assistance,” the sheriff’s statement said. “The events that transpired the night of June 10-11, 2022, that ended in Christian’s death, continue to be disturbing.”
Clear Creek County also will dedicate a park in Glass’s name, and Colorado will place three pieces of his artwork in state buildings with Gov. Jared Polis holding a commemoration ceremony on Wednesday.
4:53 p.m. update: An incident in EagleVail that drew out a notable law enforcement presence has been resolved. An Eagle County alert sent at 1:35 p.m. reporting on the activity in the area assured residents that there was no threat to the public.
Vail rafter dies in Glenwood Canyon over the weekend; warning issued for high river dangers this week
A rafter died after falling from his watercraft into the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon on Sunday.
Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire confirmed Tuesday morning that Nicholas Courtens, 34, of Vail, was pronounced dead at the scene between Shoshone and Grizzly Creek in Glenwood Canyon after he fell from a raft and drowned.
The White River National Forest and other river recreation officials are urging caution when recreating on the currently runoff-swollen area rivers.
Glassmire said the Glenwood Springs Fire Department and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene at 12:29 p.m. Sunday.
“Investigators learned the rafter was part of a private group of five people using two rafts,” Glassmire said in a news release. “The decedent went into the water while the group was navigating a rapid and eddy. Upon exiting the rapid and eddy, the decedent was unable to be initially rescued.”
The group was able to pull Courtens to the riverbank where his rafting party and two additional bystanders provided CPR and first aid, but were unable to resuscitate him, Glassmire said. Courtens was wearing a personal flotation device and a helmet at the time of the incident, he said.
An autopsy was performed on Monday by the Coroner’s Office contract forensic pathologist, and the death is being investigated as a drowning, he said.
Meanwhile, Forest Service officials advise that, while the high river flows this spring are being lauded by rafters and kayakers, the high water creates additional challenges and hazards that can be dangerous even for highly experienced rafters and kayakers.
“Don’t underestimate the river during high flows or overestimate your abilities,” Colleen Pennington, Glenwood Canyon Manager for the White River National Forest, said in a Monday release.
Those hazards can change day-by-day with the rapid river flow, including debris and tree snags that can trap people underwater and puncture rafts, dangerous currents and cold water temperatures that can create dangerous situations for even strong swimmers, she said.
“Know your limits,” Pennington said. “The river is unforgiving with high flows. Always wear a life jacket and use proper boats designed for white water — no inner tubes.”
As of Tuesday morning, the Colorado River below the confluence with the Roaring Fork River near Two Rivers Park was flowing at just under 12,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) with a depth of a little over 7.8 feet. That’s well above the historical median of 7,500 cfs and a river depth on this date last year of 5.8 feet, according to the US Geological Survey’s Streamflow data website.
“High flows can be dangerous for all forest users, not just those choosing to float the rivers,” the release states. “Normally small creeks are running high, and conditions can change rapidly. Swift streams are dangerous for all, but pay particularly close attention to pets and small children, and avoid getting too close to culverts.”
The Forest Service also advises that visitors may find more roads and trails damaged from the high flows than in a typical year. “Never attempt to drive through flood waters because the currents can be much swifter and the water much deeper than it appears.”
Summit County Sheriff’s Office investigating death of woman in Breckenridge as potential homicide
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office initiated a homicide investigation Sunday, May 21, after a woman was found dead in Breckenridge.
A little before 1 p.m., Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the 100 block of Pelican Circle at the Villas at Swans Nest complex for a report of a woman crying loudly, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies found another woman unresponsive and are investigating, the release states.
“It looks suspicious enough that we wanted to protect the scene and rule out a possible homicide, meaning that it was a death caused by another,” Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said in a phone interview.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation assisted with processing the crime scene. There is no information about suspects, and no arrests have been made at this time, according to the news release.
Anyone with information that would help the investigation is asked to contact Detective Brandon Vail at 970-423-8953.
Moms march in Vail in support of gun reform Sunday, a day after six mass shootings occurred in the US
About 80 people gathered in Vail Village on Sunday to march the streets and speak out in support of gun reform.
The demonstration was one of many taking place across the country over the weekend, as Moms Demand Action groups organized around the Mother’s Day holiday in an effort to urge Congress to act on gun reform.
Cynthia Pillsbury, a local mother of three, helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd about solutions to gun violence.
“First off, we need to immediately stop the production of new assault weapons, and ensure that the assault weapons that are out there are stored properly,” Pillsbury said. “We need to strengthen our background check system to keep firearms out of dangerous hands in the first place, and laws to disarm domestic abusers.”
Pillsbury saluted Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado legislature for the recent expansion of Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Petition legislation, otherwise known as “red flag laws,” which now allow licensed medical care providers, licensed mental health care providers, licensed educators, and district attorneys to petition for an extreme risk protection order against individuals, requiring them to surrender their firearms.
Pillsbury said “implementing red flag laws in states that have them, and encouraging the states that do not have red flag laws to enact them to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a threat to themselves and others,” should be among the solutions considered by those who seek to end gun violence in the United States.
Pillsbury referenced the recent mass shooting in Louisville, Kentucky, in which bank employee Connor Sturgeon is reported to have left a manifesto detailing his motives, saying he wanted to kill himself, he wanted to prove how easy it was to buy a gun in Kentucky and he wanted to highlight a mental health crisis in America.
“We know (red flags laws) save lives, and it would have saved lives at the shooting in the bank in Kentucky,” Pillsbury said.
A group of Vail Mountain School students attended the event, including Pillsbury’s daughter Serena Pillsbury — a member of Students Demand Action, a spin-off of Moms Demand Action — who was marching as part of her senior project.
“Nationwide, there’s a lot of these marches going on, but there was nothing in Vail, so my mom and I came together to do something,” she said. “Most of the American population believes in sensible gun laws, and I think people don’t realize that.”
Serena Pillsbury’s senior project took a simple concept, empathy, and traced how it could affect a more complex issue like gun violence. She conducted interviews with staffers from the offices of Sen. John Hickenlooper and Rep. Joe Neguse, along with a founding member of the National Rifle Association, and sought the help of former Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger as an expert adviser. She also produced a song, “We’ve Got To Take A Stand,” currently streaming on SoundCloud, as part of the project.
“My hope for this song is to instill empathy in others and raise awareness for gun violence in this country,” she said.
Serena’s sister, 13-year-old Milly Pillsbury, also attended with her friends, seventh graders Lily Novak and Ziva Seller.
But it wasn’t just moms and kids in attendance. Dan Pennington said he wanted to get involved due to “the inactivity of our lawmakers to do anything that is reasonable to make a dent in the violence that we have for our children and our communities.
“Also, I want to support Cynthia and the other moms that are in the group that are doing this locally, and the least I can do is come out and march around Vail and draw some attention to what’s happening,” he added.
Douglas Smith, the assistant secretary for the private sector at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from October 2009 to November 2013, also attended. Smith was on scene at Sandy Hook the day after the deadly shooting, where 20 children ages 6-7 were killed.
“This is a pretty sensitive subject for me,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of it.”
Smith, himself a father, now lives in Eagle County and volunteers at local schools, working on active shooter drills.
Smith said he wanted to get involved because he’s “sick and tired of the fake narrative of the NRA.”
He said the statistics regarding mass shootings in the U.S. are staggering.
The number of mass shootings — defined by four more people shot in a single event at the same general time and location, not including the shooter — has continued to rise in the U.S. in recent years, with 221 occurring already in 2023, compared to 273 total in 2014, and 336 in 2015, according to the data collection site GunViolenceArchive.org.
In 2020, there were 610 mass shootings in the U.S., followed by 646 in 2021 and 690 in 2022.
Smith described the uptick as “ridiculously depressing” and said the narratives surrounding gun ownership are part of the problem.
“The second amendment, for 100 years, has been misquoted,” he said. “It’s about a militia managed by Congress. It’s not your individual militia, it’s a state-sponsored militia.”
Dillon man accused of selling psychedelic ‘magic mushrooms’ claims he was gifting them under Colorado’s new proposition
A Dillon man is facing a felony drug distribution charge as prosecutors allege he sold psilocybin mushrooms, also known as “magic” mushrooms, in violation of state law.
But the 32-year-old man — accused of unlawful distribution, dispensing, or sale of a controlled substance, a Class 3 drug felony — claims he was “donating,” not selling, the mushrooms, according to a warrantless arrest probable cause statement. Class 3 drug felonies are punishable by two to four years in prison.
In November, Colorado voters passed Proposition 122, which decriminalized the personal possession, use, and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms. Under the proposition, it is not illegal for people 21 or older to give away mushrooms to those who are 21 or older — but it remains illegal to sell mushrooms.
On April 14, Dillon police responded to a plaza near the Dillon Ridge Shopping Center after a caller reported a man had set up a table outside a shop with signs advertising “magic mushrooms” and “Free hugs & mushees,” according to the court documents.
Upon the arrival of police, the man reportedly put away the signs and sat at the table with nothing except a jug of water and disposable cups. When police asked the man what “magic mushrooms” his signs were referring to, he said he was “taking donations” and giving psilocybin mushrooms as a “gift” to those who donated, the documents state.
Police asked about the donations, and the man said they were for a “nonprofit,” according to the probable cause statement. When asked about which nonprofit they were donating to, the man reportedly said he was attempting to start one himself. When pressed by police, the suspect added, “(they’re) donating to me,” the document states.
The man reportedly gave police permission to look into a duffle bag, which contained many large plastic bags of dried mushrooms and several smaller bags. The man further told police he had accepted $50 in exchange for a 7-gram bag of mushrooms, according to the probable cause statement.
Dillon Police reportedly called the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to discuss next steps before arresting the man without incident. A small food scale, which police said can be used to weigh drugs, was discovered when the man was searched, the documents state.
After police took the man’s phone, the phone received a message from a man stating he was passing along the phone number to “a homie looking for some booms,” according to the probable cause statement. “Booms” is a common street name for psilocybin mushrooms, police noted in the documents.
In a phone interview, District Attorney Heidi McCollum said she would not discuss the facts of particular case.
However, she said “We are well aware of what the new law states, and we believe we are well within what it does state with this charge.
“The law does also say it is illegal for remuneration of any kind in exchange for mushrooms,” she said.
Renumeration means “to pay an equivalent for” something, like a service, loss, or expense, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
“Anyone who is soliciting donations for, and then claiming they are not getting remuneration for, seems to contradict itself,” she said.
A public defender representing the man did not return a request for comment.
Former Vail police officer charged with harassment moves to Florida, receives an easing of bond restrictions
Former Vail police officer Adam Bloom made his first court appearance on harassment and solicitation of prostitution charges Tuesday in Eagle County.
Bloom called in by phone to Tuesday’s hearing. As part of a request that Bloom be allowed to continue to make his court appearances remotely, his attorney told Judge Ed Casias that Bloom now lives in Florida, and the defense needs another 4-6 weeks to prepare its case. The judge obliged the request and scheduled another court date for July 11.
Bloom was arrested on March 29 and posted a $2,000 bond on March 30; his bond conditions stipulate that he is not allowed to possess firearms or use the internet.
Bloom’s attorney on Tuesday said Bloom had to call in over the phone, rather than appear over the court’s internet-based video conferencing application, due to the fact that Bloom is not allowed to use the internet. Bloom’s attorney requested an alteration of his bond conditions to allow him to use the internet and possess firearms.
The prosecuting attorney said the circumstances surrounding Bloom’s arrest warrant the bond conditions.
“The defendant was at a bar and was talking to a young woman, the young woman left, she was uncomfortable with his advances toward her — this was after 12 at night — he followed her home when she was leaving, he had told her that he was a Vail police officer,” the prosecuting attorney said on Tuesday. “He repeated something along the lines of he wanted to have sex with her. She reported that she was fearful for her safety, and she didn’t know what he was going to do. She thought he might have a firearm, because he was a police officer.”
Bloom’s attorney said the prohibition of internet use and firearms has made it difficult for him to find work.
“(Bloom) hasn’t been able to seek other employment using the internet, but he does have a friend, where he lives down in Florida, who runs a gun shop, and Mr. Bloom would be working as a gunsmith for him,” Bloom’s attorney said on Tuesday.
The prosecutor said Bloom, as a Vail police officer, was in a position of trust with the community when he committed this offense. Bloom was terminated from the position as a result of his arrest.
“Yes, it is a misdemeanor, but we are greatly concerned with the defendant’s actions in this case, and believe that these bond conditions are appropriate,” the prosecuting attorney said in reference to the prohibition of firearms.
Bloom’s accuser is fearful of retaliation, the prosecutor argued, and wants to know where his next job will be and if he will have access to guns.
“That is telling, your honor, of the fear that this — just a misdemeanor — has placed on the victim in this case,” the prosecuting attorney said.
The prohibition of the internet was related to the second charge, solicitation of prostitution, which came up as a result of the first case being made public. The prosecutor said when the details of the harassment case were published in the Vail Daily, another woman came forward with accusations that led to the solicitation charge.
“The defendant met a woman on, I believe it was Bumble, and proceeded to offer to pay her for sex,” the prosecuting attorney said. “As to the internet, it was in part because of the solicitation, we specifically added the section about not using dating websites.”
The prosecution objected to any modification of the bond conditions but said if any modifications were to occur, they should be mindful of the allegations made in the case.
“For instance, if this court is inclined to allow internet access — allow internet access but not allow access to stimulating material or to dating websites given the solicitation,” the prosecutor said. “If this court is inclined to modify the gun prohibition, we would ask that it modify to allow the defendant only to access guns for purposes of employment and not for personal use.
“However we would object to any modification at this time as we do believe the bond conditions are appropriate in this case,” the prosecutor added.
The defense said it was important to point out that the allegations reference something that is alleged to have occurred while Bloom was off duty.
“This wasn’t a situation where he was on duty,” the defense said. “And there is no evidence that Mr. Bloom possessed a firearm.”
Bloom must also take regular sobriety tests as a condition of the bond, and the defense requested that he be relieved of that requirement, saying the cost of the tests is adding up.
“When he was living in Colorado, those tests were costing about $30 a pop, now that he is in Florida, he is still compliant with that, however, those tests are still costing him, I think he had mentioned that they cost $100 for him to take the test down in Florida,” the defense said.
The prosecution argued that because the accusations are coming as a result of an incident that occurred at a bar, the sobriety tests should continue.
“Multiple witnesses stated that it seemed like the defendant was on something at the time of this incident, thus the people believe this incident was likely fueled by drugs and/or alcohol,” the prosecutor said.
After hearing the testimony from the prosecuting and defense attorneys, Judge Casias agreed to modify some of the bond conditions.
“Mr. Bloom may work on firearms while he is at the gunsmith shop, he may not take any out of that shop, he may not have any in his personal possession when he is outside of work, he can only work on them within the gunsmith’s building, and they must stay there, he may not bring them out,” Casias said. “He may access the internet to seek employment, he may not use it to visit any dating sites, or any social media.”
The judge said Bloom must continue to take the sobriety tests, as well, and may access the internet to confer with his attorney and appear in court using videoconferencing technology.
“Those are the amendments the court is comfortable making at this time, any further ones may be visited at the next court date,” Casias said.
Details emerge in Summit County snowmobiler assault case involving social media influencer David Lesh
David Lesh, 37, is facing charges of second degree assault by strangulation, a Class 4 felony, and third degree assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor. He is scheduled to appear in Summit County court in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 10, for an appearance on bond.
JB Katz, a defense attorney representing Lesh, declined to comment on the assault charges he is facing beyond stating, “Facts will come out in court, not in a newspaper.”
On March 25 around 1 p.m., a Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the west end of Spring Creek Road, north of Heeney, according to an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant filed in the assault case.
Upon arriving at the scene, a man reportedly told deputies that Lesh, a member of the group he was supposed to be snowmobiling with, assaulted him. The man told deputies he had not known Lesh would be there that day and that his GoPro camera captured the incident.
The GoPro video reportedly shows the man and Lesh getting into a verbal fight during which the man says he only plans to stick with the group until he can meet with another group down the trail, to which Lesh replies, “I would not recommend it,” the affidavit states.
“I will knock you the (expletive) out and take your key and leave you in the backcountry,” Lesh said, according to the affidavit.
In the video, the man said, “No you won’t,” to which David replied “You wanna bet?” before jumping off his snowmobile toward the man and striking him in the face, the affidavit states.
At this point, the camera appears to fall into the snow and only picks up audio, according to the affidavit, which states that there are about 20 seconds of what sounds like fighting before choking or muffled yelling can be heard.
The man told deputies that at this point Lesh had him in a chokehold from behind and above and he was trying to “tap out” — a common sign of giving up during a fight due to lack of oxygen — because he could not breathe and nearly went unconscious, the affidavit states.
At one point, the man can reportedly be heard on the GoPro audio saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” and “You’re seriously choking me.”
Then, the man’s voice in the audio goes from “very muffled” to “only somewhat strained” as he calls out for help and it sounds like Lesh lets go of him, according to the affidavit. The man and Lesh reportedly continued to argue, with the man telling deputies that he punched Lesh when Lesh touched him again.
As the two continued to fight, the man claims Lesh grabbed him by the throat and began to apply pressure to his neck, causing him to start to black out again, and later jammed his finger into his eye, according to the affidavit.
In all, the video is a little more than 8 minutes long, with the fight starting around 3 minutes. The man reportedly told the other snowmobilers in the group “Lesh hates me,” early in the video, before the fight, and Lesh reportedly told the whole group upon arriving that he wouldn’t ride with the man.
The man told deputies that he and Lesh have issues because he doesn’t believe Lesh takes backcountry safety or the safety of the snowmobiling group seriously, according to the affidavit.
At one point in the video, the man reportedly tells Lesh he only plans to follow the group until he can meet up with another group, but Lesh asks why he can’t just snowmobile alone, to which the man cites backcountry safety.
A forensic nurse examiner inspected the man’s injuries the day after the incident and found that the strangulation and eye wound constitute serious bodily injury, according to the affidavit. The man rated the chokehold as an 8 out of 10 in terms of pressure and the strangulation with two hands as a 9 out 10, the affidavit states.
In separate cases, a federal judge last year sentenced Lesh to $10,000 in fines and 160 hours of useful public service after he was convicted of two petty offenses for riding a snowmobile at Keystone Resort’s terrain park in April 2020.
Social media posts in 2020 depicting Lesh seemingly defecating in Maroon Lake and walking on a log at Hanging Lake caught the ire of U.S. National Forest officials and were used as evidence for one of those petty offenses, according to The Aspen Times. Lesh says the photos were digitally altered, and he is appealing the conviction.
Lesh was also accused of riding his snowmobile in a closed area of Independence Pass in July 2019, and reached a plea deal in that case requiring him to pay a $500 fine and complete 50 hours of community service.
Reports: Eagle County jail was aware of mental health issues of recent inmates who died by suicide
Editor’s note: This article discusses death by suicide and suicidal ideation, and some people might find it triggering. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact your physician, go to your local emergency room, call Your Hope Center’s 24/7 crisis line at 970-306-4673 or Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255.
A man who is suspected to have died by suicide while in custody at the Eagle County detention facility had threatened suicide on numerous occasions leading up to the incident, according to police reports.
The reports date back to Dec. 5, when the man called a crisis line saying “he would 100 percent kill himself when he hung up,” according to a report from the Avon Police Department.
After attempting to locate the man and making contact with his family, a ping to his phone revealed he was in Adams County at the time, and the information was passed along to Adams County. But it wouldn’t be long before he popped up in Eagle County again.
On Jan. 30, Avon police responded to a disturbance in progress call at the man’s home and found that he had a warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear in court on a driving under the influence case. He was placed in custody, at which time he became violent and threatened suicide.
On Feb. 4, Avon police responded to a trespassing call at a residence to which the man had been invited but was asked to leave. A physical confrontation ensued, according to the reporting party, and the man was arrested and charged with domestic violence. He claimed he had also been assaulted and was transported to Vail Health to be evaluated for his injuries, according to the police report. Once at Vail Health, the man “made several statements of wanting law enforcement to shoot and kill him,” according to the report.
On April 6, Avon police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the same location as the Feb. 4 incident. The man was again taken into custody on domestic violence and other charges, and while in custody, stated that he wanted to kill himself.
According to the police report “… he stated that he wanted to kill himself and preferred to be at the hospital instead of the jail.”
The officer advised him that he would notify the jail deputies of his statement.
“I would ensure that he had the ability to speak with someone who could help him,” the officer wrote.
The man “continually repeated that he was going to kill himself once he got to the jail, that it was easy for him to hang himself and that I would be responsible for his death,” the officer wrote.
Once at the jail, “I filled out the pre-booking questionnaire, one of the questions was regarding suicidal statements made by the arrestee, I checked yes on that portion of the form and advised Jail Deputies that (the suspect) had threatened to hang himself once inside the jail. I was advised by the Jail Deputies that they would take note of that, and that (the suspect) also made similar statements to them.”
On Monday, Kohlbrenner said the investigation remains ongoing, and the bureau is currently waiting on toxicology results.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office has refused to comment on the case as it is an active investigation, but in referencing previous incidents involving death by suicide at the Eagle County detention center, Sheriff James van Beek has said his office always tries to evaluate situations with discretionary good judgment for the best outcome.
Van Beek was referencing a pair of suicides that occurred at the Eagle County jail in 2019.
“While there is some value in administering tests designed to detect depression and other issues, we must also face the fact that many who are intent on committing suicide have learned to hide their symptoms for fear of being stopped,” van Beek wrote in a Sept. 2019 column in the Vail Daily.
Since then, Bettis confirmed another suicide at the Eagle County jail, a female who was pronounced dead Dec. 7.
Van Beek, in his Sept. 2019, column, said his office intends to work with mental health professionals and law enforcement agencies in discovering new strategies for evaluating mental health conditions.
Dan Heinze, who was in contact with the female inmate who died by suicide, said whatever the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is doing does not appear to be working. He said he had personally notified the jail to make sure they knew she was suicidal.
“It was brought to their attention that they needed to monitor her,” he said. “They were aware of it.”
Heinze said the inmate, in phone conversations while she was in custody, told him she wasn’t receiving help for her mental health issues.
“I see it as negligent,” he said. “The whole system is pretty broken.”