Manhunt underway near Basalt for two men believed to be suspects in Thursday’s armed robbery in Carbondale |

Manhunt underway near Basalt for two men believed to be suspects in Thursday’s armed robbery in Carbondale

Scott Condon | Aspen Times

Law enforcement officials stopped this bus at Holland Hills east of Basalt on at about 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, The driver reported that he thought the two suspects in a Carbondale armed robbery on Thursday were among the passengers in the downvalley-bound bus.

Two men suspected of an armed robbery in Carbondale last week have eluded numerous law enforcement officers so far during a manhunt today (Tuesday, Feb. 21) in the hills east of Basalt.

As of 1 p.m., the suspects were still on the run after a search of 3 ½ hours. Officers on the hillside reported to the command center that they lost sight of the two men late this morning. Officials were trying to backtrack to the last location where they were spotted so they could use a bloodhound to pick up the scent.

Authorities were also preparing at 1 p.m. to launch a drone to try to spot the suspects.

The search was focused this afternoon along and adjacent to the popular Arbaney Kittle Trail, about 2 miles east of Basalt.

The search began after a driver for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority reported that two men matching the description of the Feb. 16 armed robbery of a convenience store had boarded his bus at the Intercept Lot at the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road at about 9 a.m.

The downvalley-bound bus was pursued by Pitkin County deputy sheriffs and Snowmass Village police while Basalt police were prepared to intercept it in the midvalley. The bus was pulled over at Holland Hills. The bus driver posted on Facebook that the men hightailed it out of the bus.

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“They jumped out an emergency window and ran off chased by oodles of police with shotguns,” the driver wrote. “That’s a first.”

Officers on foot and in vehicles chased the suspects through the Roaring Fork Club golf course. The two men then headed up a steep hillside covered with pinyon and juniper trees.

Officers soon followed up the hillside and they had the suspects in sight, according to Pitkin County Sheriff Jo DiSalvo. The officers in the field reported later in the morning that they had lost sight of the men and believed they were headed east, or toward Aspen.

The Arbaney Kittle Trailhead was unguarded as of 10 a.m. when a reporter drove through the parking lot.

DiSalvo confirmed that officials believe the two men are the suspects in the robbery. The men used a handgun to rob two employees at the Valero Cowen Center Convenience Store. They obtained an undisclosed amount of cash.

Carbondale police obtained arrest warrants earlier this week for 19-year-old Nicholas Alexander Ameral and Benjamin Weeks, also 19, for aggravated robbery. Ameral is described as a black male, about 5-foot-11″ to 6 foot and 140 to 165 pounds. Weeks is described as a black male, from 5-foot-6 to 5-9, 138 pounds to 165 pounds. Both have short black hair and brown eyes.

Officers said they found a wallet belong to Ameral on the RFTA bus Tuesday.