Family urges shooter to come forward
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – As the hard work of learning who shot Qwest executive Jeff Garrett goes on, investigators and family members hope the shooter will make things easier on everyone by giving himself up.Rick Lewis, Garrett’s uncle, is pleading that whoever shot Garrett while he was turkey hunting, or may know who shot him, will contact authorities.”Somebody knows what’s happened. I would hope that they would come forward,” Lewis said during a visit to Glenwood Springs after Garrett’s funeral in the Denver area.He said coming clean would benefit not only the family but the shooter.”They must be carrying a terrible burden,” Lewis said.
Garrett, 37, of Aurora, died May 14 near New Castle. Garfield County sheriff’s investigators believe he was calling for turkeys while in a hidden spot and another hunter mistook him for a turkey and shot him. The shooter either may not have realized the error, or panicked and fled rather than reporting the shooting.Garrett was a top Colorado executive for Qwest, and left behind his wife, Charlotte, and two young children. Lewis said the family believes the shooting was “a terrible accident,” and he hasn’t thought about what kind of punishment Garrett’s shooter ought to receive.”That’s not our interest right now. Our interest is to find out exactly what happened,” he said.Sheriff Lou Vallario also is appealing to the conscience of whoever shot Garrett. “Hopefully they’ll do the right thing and come forward or eventually break down and tell somebody, and they’ll tell us,” Vallario said.Garrett was hunting on Bureau of Land Management land around 8,000 feet in elevation near East Elk Creek when he was shot. He was assistant vice president for Qwest in Colorado ,and had served as a spokesman and state lobbyist for the company.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is doing ballistics testing on the fatal bullet, which entered Garrett’s upper right chest from above, at a 45-degree angle. So far, everything continues to suggest that Garrett was killed while sitting down and leaning over while calling turkeys, Vallario said.Garrett was dressed in full camouflage. Turkey hunters aren’t required to wear blaze orange. The birds have sharp eyesight, and hunters generally try to call them in to within short range.Garrett was shot in an area where unlimited turkey hunting is allowed. That means anyone with a 2005 Colorado spring turkey license could have legally been hunting where Garrett was killed.Vallario said investigators have 12,000 licenses to pore over in seeking possible suspects.On the before they shooting, hunter Dean Swanson, Garrett and another man hunted in the East Elk Creek area north of New Castle. The group saw and heard turkeys and decided to returned the next day, said Swanson, 66, who lives in Wheat Ridge but is a part-time New Castle resident and a fishing guide for local outfitters.
On the morning of the shooting, Garrett got out of their vehicle where he had heard a turkey the day before, and then Swanson and the third man went about another mile away to hunt. That man got his turkey and was back at the vehicle about 9 a.m., but Garrett failed to return.After the two contacted authorities later that day, a Garfield County sheriff’s search and rescue team consisting of about 20 people was called in. With the help of a search dog, crew members found Garrett’s body around 7 p.m.”I’m finally getting to sleep at night and getting this thing off my mind at least part of the time. It’s really brutal. I guess next to losing my mother and father this would be the third-worst (death) I’ve been through in my life,” he said.Vail, Colorado
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The operating license for Kent Funeral Home in Gypsum has been summarily suspended by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies following an investigation that revealed disturbing conditions at an associated funeral home in Leadville.