Van Beek: Murder, car chase, capture
Last Wednesday, while many others were at home playing with kids, stalking friends on Facebook, or seeking ways in which to make money while awaiting businesses to reopen, Louis Lucero was allegedly murdering a 9-year old boy, his 12-year old brother, and their mother in Victorville, California. After allegedly dropping off the bodies in the desert, Lucero headed east.
On Thursday afternoon, a vehicle was reported stolen in Dotsero and spotted driving at high-speed on I-70. The pursuit began. While stolen cars are generally low-threat incidents, there is always a danger of an innocent civilian getting hurt, particularly when there is a high-speed chase involved.
Instead of stopping, the suspect became even more aggressive in his driving and the avoidance of capture was becoming less routine and more suspicious. Something was thrown out of the car, which was quickly recovered, and the driver sped off at the Dowd Junction exit.
Heading towards Minturn, law enforcement became even more concerned, as people simply walking in this small town could easily be hit by this out-of-control vehicle. Speeding through the town, the car ended up crashing at Red Cliff, and the suspect took off running.
The danger level suddenly increased, as there was now a possibility of innocent families getting caught up in the pursuit. We didn’t want anyone taken hostage or injured during the chase.
At this time, we did not know that we were in pursuit of a man wanted for multiple murders, but we knew that he was clearly running from more than just a vehicle theft … these were the actions of someone in desperation, and a desperate man is a dangerous one.
The intensity increased as multiple law enforcement agencies joined in the search by foot, aware that at any moment, the suspect could emerge, possibly with a gun. We needed to secure the nearby residents while also pursuing the threat posed by someone on the run from law enforcement.
Ultimately, we were able to capture the suspect, and did so in record time … less than one hour. Upon arrest, we discovered that he was wanted by the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office for questioning in the three murders that had occurred the day before. We immediately began securing evidence, which will aid in the murder investigation.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Eagle Police Department, Avon Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, and the Vail Public Safety Communication Center all came together to arrest the suspect and secure the community. Our continual team effort never disappoints, as we all hope for the best and absolutely prepare for the worst.
We always joke around and work closely with our friends and neighbors across the county, as this is a friendly community, and supporting one another is what we do. We also take very seriously the responsibility of keeping you safe.
Intense training is the norm, often earning national credentials. We take nothing for granted. Not only must we be vigilant with members of the community, but we are cognizant of our location adjacent to I-70, which brings potential danger from all across the country.
The visitors that we welcome with open arms travel alongside others whose intentions may be less than honorable, and a few who bring with them a major threat.
As law enforcement professionals, we must balance our desire to be relaxed and friendly with the preparedness of someone pulling out a gun and, within moments, creating a life-or-death situation. We vow to never let you down. We don’t want you worrying about these dangers … that is our job.
While you are safe at home, we will continue to be vigilant about keeping our community the best in Colorado. Jurisdictions come together when the public’s safety is at risk. Bad guys will wish they had gone elsewhere!
Be safe, stay healthy, and keep in smiling … we’ve got your six!
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.