The big story across the state Monday, and nationwide as well as you might’ve heard from AP Network News… a teenage student was arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly threatening to shoot up Telluride Middle & High School, Columbine-style. One student reported the threat seen on Snapchat to a teacher Sunday, and the local district in the remote southwest Colorado resort acted right away. The suspect was immediately arrested that afternoon, police finding a rifle and a handgun inside that student’s house. They couldn’t immediately say whether the guns belonged to that teen. A second Snapchat message, claiming explosives had been placed around the school, prompted authorities to call in a hazmat team to check, and the Superintendent to cancel Monday classes as a precaution. As of Monday afternoon, no such explosives had been found, a rumor of guns placed at the school had been determined untrue, and classes are expected to resume as normal in Telluride today. The FBI’s also been asked to help out local marshals and the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office in looking further into the case.
A bizarre weekend incident has turned into a bit of a mystery, with the suspect who was clearly intoxicated by something saying he wants to know, along with authorities, what he was so high on last Friday night. 42-year-old Vail resident Justin Helmer is in the Pitkin County Jail, charged with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, assault with a deadly weapon, menacing with one, vehicular eluding, resisting law enforcement, and a variety of traffic crimes. All that, after he was noticed by Basalt Police and Pitkin sheriff’s deputies zooming toward Aspen on Highway 82 at some 96 miles an hour, Helmer not stopping his large pickup until Snowmass Canyon, ramming a police car with it after he was stopped, driving to the intercept lot, revving the engine, spinning some doughnuts there, and finally stopping. After he was arrested, police searched the truck and found pipes and lighters, but no drugs. The Aspen Times reports Helmer told police he didn’t want to talk with them without a lawyer present, then proceeded to talk nonstop for hours Friday night into Saturday morning, saying at one point he thought he might have been on PCP, but didn’t know. The results of drug tests aren’t back yet.
Meanwhile, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario recently told the Post-Independent he’d like to see people who don’t really belong in jail, but are actually victims of the criminal justice system, in hospitals or other facilities. He told the paper of at least one recent inmate who had violent mood swings and had to be addressed by extraction teams of officers just to clean the man up after he’d been lying in his own waste for hours. Mental health officials agree, noting that situations where the mentally ill end up in jails rather than in facilities better matched to their needs are problematic statewide and across the country. In the case of that one inmate, Vallario ended up dropping criminal charges, just to get the man into mental health treatment at Grand Junction.
More wild reports from the holiday weekend… Aspen Police have also arrested 52-year-old Courtlandt Kirk for spraying an unnamed 57-year-old neighbor with bear spray at the Truscott Apartment complex. Kirk’s been charged with misdemeanor assault. He claims in a police report to have gotten home early Sunday evening with his 7-year-old daughter, when the neighbor approached them and tried to get into their apartment. Kirk tells police he sprayed the man to protect his child. A police officer says the pattern of the spray shows that not to be true, that the man was in the hallway when hit with the chemical, and may have been followed back to his own unit with it. Police say the 2 men have had a feud going between them for some time, so much so that the apartments have threatened to evict both of them.
The Aspen Daily News reports Michael Fox, owner of the beleaguered Aspen Club, saying construction on the revamping of the facility could resume in the spring, with the club reopening sometime in 2019. Fox tells the paper recent departures of club executives including the operating and financial officers were mutual decisions, and he’s still moving ahead on the project, looking to new financing options. FirstBank, meanwhile, foreclosed on the property this fall, saying it’s still owed $30 million, after lending Fox $45 mil. Fox claims to the Daily to be close to making a number of “deals” regarding the club project. He’s got until late February to come up with a plan to pay back the $30 million, or the property goes into a foreclosure sale in March. Another $25 million in liens have been filed against him by various contractors who’d worked on the remodeling project and not gotten paid.