I-70 temporarily closed near Rifle due to standoff, suspect in custody | VailDaily.com | VailDaily.com

I-70 temporarily closed Tuesday due to standoff near Rifle, suspect in custody

Thomas Phippen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

No shots were fired and no one was injured in a more-than three-hour standoff near Rifle Tuesday, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities closed Interstate 70 and Highway 6 near West Rifle for more than three hours Tuesday to respond to a potentially armed suspect, who is now in custody, Sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe said.

Law enforcement officers initially responded to reports of a stabbing near the I-70 exit into West Rifle, around 11 a.m.. One suspect appeared to have taken cover in the rocks on the hillside.

Because of the possibility the man might have had a firearm, the first responders chose to shut down I-70, fearing a catastrophic event if gunfire were exchanged so close to the interstate, Stowe said in a press release.

Sheriff’s officials did not indicate whether the man was carrying a firearm at the time of the incident.

Eastbound I-70 was closed between MM 81 (Rulison) to MM 87 (West Rifle). I-70 westbound was closed at MM 87, according to a Garfield 9-1-1 alert that went out late Tuesday morning. Highway 6 was closed both directions at West Rifle.

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After attempting to communicate with the suspect verbally, the Garfield County All Hazards Response Team SWAT unit was dispatched and successfully brought the person down from the hillside around 2:30 p.m. Shortly afterward, eastbound I-70 and Highway 6 were reopened.

Early reports indicated the suspect might have had a knife wound when he fled up the hill near the interstate. Neither the suspect nor the response team sustained any injuries in the operation on the hillside, the sheriff’s department said.

Emergency medical staff from St. Mary’s Care Flight was at the scene but ultimately were not needed, according to the sheriff’s department. After emergency vehicles were cleared from the interstate, westbound I-70 was reopened.

It was unclear what sort of charges the suspect might face. Garfield Sheriff’s officials are investigating what led the man to flee up the hillside, and whether there will be charges brought against him. The Sheriff’s department did not provide further information, and did not immediately name the person who was arrested.

In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, the incident involved numerous law enforcement personnel, including the Colorado State Patrol, police departments of Rifle and Parachute, the Crisis Negotiation Team, Colorado River Fire Rescue, Grand Valley Fire, and agents of the Department of Transportation.

tphippen@postindependent.com