Authorities arrest two after ofﬁcer shooting
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
NEW CASTLE ” In a frantic case of connect the dots and seeing dominos fall into place, local law enforcement arrested a man they believe to be directly involved in the July 29 shooting of a Glenwood Springs Police officer.
One week after the shooting, Glenwood Springs Police arrested 20-year-old Sergio Estebon Ramirez and transported him to the Garfield County Jail. He’s being held on a $1 million bond.
Charges include attempted first-degree murder on a police officer, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said more arrests will come.
On Saturday, Anthony Villegas, a 19-year-old with the alias “Speedy,” was arrested at a New Castle residence on a nationwide felony drug and car theft warrant. Although brought in for questioning, he has currently not been charged in the shooting case. Vallario said that Villegas might not be one of the two main suspects but he has a connection to the case.
“We believe he has some involvement. In the near future there will be another arrest and maybe more,” Vallario added.
Ramirez, who reportedly has a tattoo with his nickname “Smokey” on his neck, slipped through the grasp of law enforcement Friday night. But it wasn’t until the next day that Ramirez became a confirmed suspect in the shooting case.
“There were a lot of dominos (falling into place),” Vallario said.
Vallario said that Ramirez was one of three men arrested on drug charges after a raid on the Roaring Fork Inn (formerly the Terra Vista) Friday night. Ramirez bonded out on Saturday, and that’s when law enforcement really started connecting the dots.
Vallario said that they got the warrant for Ramirez’s arrest shortly after midnight as Saturday turned to Sunday. Late Sunday morning, Ramirez was spotted in Rifle, then early in the afternoon, Glenwood Springs Police stopped the car Ramirez was riding in at the main Glenwood Springs Interstate 70 exit. Vallario said Ramirez was a passenger in the car and the driver had not been charged as of last night. Ramirez was taken into custody without incident, and Vallario didn’t believe there were any weapons in the vehicle.
Vallario said that prior to the arrest there was some real frustration. First, not too long after receiving the warrant, police again raided the Roaring Fork Inn, but Ramirez had left a few minutes earlier. Then, police narrowly missed nabbing Ramirez at the 7-Eleven store at 11th Street and Grand Avenue.
“That was incredibly frustrating, especially since this is such an intense case,” he said.
According to Garfield County Community Relations Deputy Tanny McGinnis, Villegas called after his name and photograph was released to the media.
“I don’t know whether he saw the post (of information to the media) or heard about it,” McGinnis said. “He called and said come get me. I’m right here. I’ll come talk to you.”
She said that publicizing information related to the case brought at least six quality tips. The original $2,000 reward for information on the actual suspects grew to $7,000, thanks to about 10 groups or individuals donating money.
The community response has been tremendous, Vallario said.
“It’s been amazing to see how the community has come together. The community should hold us to a higher standard, so when something like this happens, they really show their support,” he said.
He added that it’s been a real team effort with all agencies stepping up.
“It’s great (to get an arrest) and I give credit to everyone, a whole plethora of people really helped out. I’m really pleased to see it,” he said. “We always take an extra step or two when it’s something that involves an officer.”
On July 29, a Glenwood Springs Police officer was on patrol south of the Glenwood Springs Airport when he noticed someone jumping off a fence. He gave verbal commands for two men walking away from him to stop, but one of the men turned and fired multiple gunshots from a handgun, hitting the officer once in the chest from around 10 to 20 feet away. The officer returned multiple gunshots as the men fled but didn’t know if he hit either man, police said. A bulletproof vest helped the officer from sustaining serious injuries.
According to police, the incident occurred near an impound lot where there has been a history of break-ins.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson declined to comment, saying that the Garfield County is now in charge of the investigation and providing information.
Anyone with information about this case can call 945-0101 and remain anonymous.