Reality show aids local SWAT team
EAGLE COUNTY – To hear Bob Ticer tell it, the story of how Avon’s police department and the Eagle County SWAT team got a customized sniper rifle is better than the story told on TV.
The TV version of the story was told on the most recent episode of “American Guns,” a show about Rich Wyatt, his family and their Denver-area Gunsmoke Guns shops that airs on the Discovery Channel. In that story, Wyatt and Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer had served together, the town bought the gun and its purchase could lead to still more business for the shop.
Here’s what really happened:
First, no taxpayer dollars were harmed in the making of that episode of “American Guns.”
“The $5,000 (cost of the gun) is a real number, but they donated it to the Eagle County SWAT team,” Ticer said.
And, while Wyatt is a former cop, he and Ticer met by chance a few months back because Ticer’s son, Wade, is a big fan of the show.
The Ticers were in Denver at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving conference – the group’s message is one 14-year-olds ought to hear early and often, Ticer believes. On the way back from the conference, Wade Ticer asked his dad if they could stop into Gunsmoke, and dad obliged.
Wyatt, a former police officer, noticed a cop in his shop, came over and struck up a conversation. During that first talk, Wyatt mentioned that “American Guns” hadn’t yet built a firearm for police and asked if Ticer would be interested.
“You bet,” was the quick reply.
Wyatt and Ticer settled on a sniper rifle that would be used by the county’s SWAT team, which is comprised of officers from all the Eagle Valley’s police forces.
While “sniper rifle” and “Eagle Valley” wouldn’t seem to belong in the same sentence, Ticer said any SWAT team needs a good sniper rifle.
“We need the capability,” Ticer said. “You need to be able to stop a threat.”
Eagle County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Silva agreed, adding that a well-prepared SWAT team needs a firearm with enough range and power to stop both people and machines before they can do more harm to the public.
Silva said a 2004 incident in Granby, in which a resident armored up a bulldozer, went into town and started demolishing buildings, is a good example of the need for a machine-stopper.
“You get into those situations and pretty soon you’re looking at bringing in the military,” Silva said.
That can take a lot of time, and endanger lives, he added.
The local team’s sniper rifle probably wouldn’t have the power to disable a bulldozer, but the .338 Lapua Magnum round can puncture a car’s engine block. It can also take down a target wearing military body armor at 1,000 yards.
Once the rifle was built, Ticer, Silva and TJ Hay, of the sheriff’s office, drove to a spot near Castle Rock – which was identified as “Avon” on the show – for a little target practice.
“We put in about an 18-hour day for two minutes of video,” Silva said.
Asked if the results were worth the trip, Silva quickly said it was. Of course, he was the only one on the local team who actually got to shoot the thing.
“It shoots excellent,” Silva said. “The guys at Gunsmoke did an awesome job – there’s very little recoil.”
And, shooting at a practice target 1,000 yards out, Silva said he was hitting what he needed to on about his third shot.
With all that, the local team couldn’t take the rifle back to Eagle County. That had to wait until the show had been on TV. Now that it’s on its way, Silva’s excited to get more work with the rifle – along with Hay and two other SWAT team snipers, both Vail police officers.
And that might be the biggest irony of the whole episode. While the rifle has Avon police logos on it, “Our department doesn’t have anyone on the sniper team,” Ticer said.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.
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