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Victim’s DNA not present on evidence in Garfield County sexual assault trial

After multiple tests, investigators determined an alleged victim’s DNA was not present on an object that prosecutors say William Korn used to assault his stepdaughter in 2016.

Korn is charged with sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, a class 3 felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

During the second day of trial, the jury heard testimony from Colorado Bureau of Investigations analyst Denise Vensel, who worked on analyzing the object.

Over the course of several months, Vensel conducted several tests, and began using a STRMix, relatively new software that allows forensic investigators to test the probability that a person’s DNA is present in a mix of multiple people’s cells in one sample.

That analysis, conducted throughout 2019, determined there was very low probability that the girl’s DNA was on the object. A Jan. 21, 2020, further confirmed that the girl’s DNA was not on the object.

The lack of the girl’s DNA can’t prove that the object touched the girl, Vensel testified, but it also can’t prove that the girl was never touched with the object.

DNA could have been degraded from the object due to heat, or if the object was used by other people or washed, Vensel said.

The jury also viewed the video of a 2017 interview with the alleged victim 8 months after the alleged incident conducted by RiverBridge, a victim advocacy organization.

In it, the girl said that her stepfather supplied her with an alcoholic beverage, took her into his room, and used an object to sexually abuse her.

The defense attorneys claim the alleged assault never happened, and that the allegations are filled with inconsistencies.

 “Generally, in an interview, children do not provide all the detail” of an assault, Bridget Derkash, formerly of RiverBridge, told the jury.

But while further interviews may provide more detail, RiverBridge doesn’t conduct more than one interview with a child for a single incident to avoid the trauma of revisiting memories of the assault.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Trial begins for Parachute man accused of sexually assaulting stepdaughter

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct previously reported information regarding DNA evidence in the William Korn trial. The prosecutors did not claim the victim’s DNA was found on the object, but did say that DNA tests excluded her as a contributor to the DNA on the object.

“Everyone did the right thing in this case,” prosecutor Sarah Nordgaard told the jury at the beginning of a trial of William Korn, 37, who allegedly got his 13-year-old stepdaughter drunk before sexually assaulting her while her mother was at work in December 2016.

“Everyone did the right thing, except the defendant,” Nordgaard said.

Korn is charged with sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, which is a class 3 felony.

It took more than a year after the alleged incident for police and prosecutors to investigate the girl’s claims, and Korn was arrested in February 2018.

The girl told a friend about the alleged molestation in a Facebook message several months after it occurred, and that girl’s mother read the messages and encouraged the victim to tell her mother, according to prosecutors.

Korn is also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly supplying the girl with an “alcoholic beverage that tasted like candy,” Nordgaard said.

Public Defender Elise Myer said that the story is too inconsistent to be accurate.

“This case is built on inconsistencies, and the inconsistencies will show you that the allegations are not true,” Myer told the jury in an opening statement.

The assault allegedly occurred at Korn’s home in Parachute on Dec. 12, after Korn dropped off his common-law spouse at work, according to prosecutors. On the way back, Korn and the 13-year-old stopped at a liquor store, and gave the girl some of what he bought.

When they returned home, he allegedly took her into the bedroom, and they laid on the bed.

“He started to have the sex talk with her, described the changes she would start to see in her body,” before assaulting her with an object, Nordgaard said.

Myer said the alcohol is one of the many details that doesn’t fit. The 10-ounce bottles contain 4.8 percent alcohol, “And on the way home, (the girl) says she drank four, if not five of these bottles,” Myer said.

Myer said the girl told a forensic interviewer that her mother worked in Silverthorne that day, but payroll records indicate she worked in another Colorado town.

Nordgaard said the girl’s DNA was not found on an item retrieved as evidence. The test that excluded the girl’s DNA from the object was finished Jan. 21, the first day of jury selection.

The girl also may have had motive to make up a story, Myer said, because she didn’t like Korn’s discipline, and considered him lazy.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Driver charged in Rifle pedestrian homicide told police he drank 2 beers before 7 a.m.

The 19-year-old suspected driver in a crash that killed a pedestrian in Rifle just before sunrise Wednesday told police he drank 2 beers before driving.

Rifle Police say Chayton Reynolds faces charges of vehicular homicide for allegedly driving drunk and hitting Robert Baumwoll, 50, around 7:20 a.m. Jan. 22 on U.S. Highway 6 east of Rifle.

Chayton Reynolds
REYNOLD

Baumwoll was unresponsive and didn’t have a pulse when police arrived at the scene east of the Rifle Remote Control Park, according to a probable cause statement from a Rifle Police officer.

The first officers attempted CPR and chest compressions to revive Baumwoll, but he was later pronounced dead.

Officers noted that the car, a blue Honda Civic, had a dent in the hood and “a large hole in the windshield about the size of a human head,” according to the affidavit.

Reynolds was crying when officers interviewed him, but said he was driving to a friend’s house, heard a thump and turned around to see what he had hit. He said he did not see anything before the collision, and would not answer when the officer asked him if the person he hit had been in the road.

Reynolds told the officer that he had drunk “about two beers in the last two hours,” according to the affidavit.

Baumwoll died of blunt force injuries, according to Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire.

“It’s incredibly tragic for everyone involved,” public defender Elise Myer said in Reynold’s first court appearance in the case Thursday afternoon.

Reynolds was on probation for a juvenile misdemeanor that he pleaded guilty to in 2019.

“Certainly this case is very upsetting. Certainly it’s upsetting to Mr. Reynolds,” Myer said. “The arrest report indicates that he was incredibly distraught and emotional at the scene.”

In a first court appearance in the case Thursday afternoon, assistant District Attorney Tony Hershey said the case underlined the dangers of driving under the influence.

Hershey pointed out Reynolds’ admission to drinking two beers before 7 a.m. and other indications of drinking, including slurred speech.

“Drinking and driving can kill people,” Hershey said.

Hershey requested a bond of $25,000, but Judge Tom Ossola, who was filling in at the 9th District Court Thursday, set bond at $10,000.

Myer noted that her client was presumed innocent until proven guilty, and said there may be other factors that will come out in the case, such as road conditions.

Baumwoll had a Silt address, but the coroner believes he may have been staying with friends in Rifle.

Anyone with knowledge of Baumwoll’s whereabouts between Jan. 21 and Jam. 22 are asked to contact the Garfield County Coroner’s Office at 970-665-6335. 

tphippen@postindependent.com

UPDATE: Pedestrian killed in Rifle crash Wednesday identified; police still investigating

UPDATE, Thursday 12:45 p.m. —The pedestrian killed in a fatal Wednesday crash has been identified as Robert Baumwoll, 50, of Silt.

Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire identified Baumwoll Thursday following an autopsy and notification of next of kin.

The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries, Glassmire said in a press release.

The crash that led to Baumwoll’s death occurred on Highway 6 near Rifle around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday. The driver has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Baumwoll had a Silt address, but it may have been outdated, and authorities suspect he was staying with friends in the Rifle area.

The Coroner’s Office is asking anyone with knowledge of Baumwoll’s whereabouts between Jan. 21 and Jan. 22 to contact the Garfield County Coroner’s Office at (970) 665-6335.


Original version:

Rifle police are investigating a one-vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian Wednesday morning on U.S. Highway 6.

According to Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein, Garfield County 911 received a call around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday about a crash on Highway 6 between milemarker 93 and 94.

Rifle Police officers responded along with Colorado River Fire Rescue.

“Officers arrived first. They located a male lying in the roadway in the westbound lane of Highway 6. There were several people at the scene when the officers arrived,” Klein said.

“The officer provided life-saving measures as well as the ambulance crew when they arrived. However, those efforts failed and unfortunately, the male died at the scene.”

The Coroner’s office responded to the scene and the name of the victim was initially withheld until next of kin could be notified.

Klein said from the preliminary investigation it appears that a subject was driving a blue Honda Civic traveling westbound on Highway 6 — the same direction as the pedestrian.

“After the male was struck the driver turned back around and returned to the scene,” Klein said.

Klein said the driver was arrested and that he will likely be charged with various offenses, one of which is DUI.

“All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in court,” Klein said.

Rifle Police Department is currently speaking to witnesses and gathering more information about the incident.

“We are looking for anyone that stopped at the scene to give us a call, and anyone that may have witnessed anything that happened and did not stop to please give us a call,” Klein said. “We would also like to talk to anyone who saw a man walking along the side of the road this morning.”

Witnesses of the crash can reach Rifle Police detectives at 970-665-6500.

Colorado Department of Transportation personnel and Rifle Community Service officers helped to divert traffic during the road closure. The highway was closed for approximately two hours while the scene was investigated.

The Colorado State Patrol also responded to the scene to help with the crash reconstruction.

“I want to thank everyone who stopped to help the gentleman who died,” Klein said.

kmills@postindependent.com

Man kicks cops, Midland car chase, and sex offender charged with domestic violence: Garfield County crime briefs

An allegedly manic man injured several Glenwood Springs Police officers while they arrested him on domestic violence charges.

Police were called to a Glenwood Springs hotel around 8:45 a.m. Jan. 17 and arrived to find a 36-year-old man who “appeared very manic, aggravated and spun up,” according to a probable cause document.

The man at the time told officers he “pleads the fifth,” in a reference to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but admitted that he and his fiancé, 29, had been arguing in their hotel room. He became agitated when officers asked for identification, and returned to yelling that he pleaded the “Fifth.”

The fiancé told police the man had not had his medication and was having a manic episode, and hit her about a dozen times in the back and shoulder. She said at one point her fiancé pinned her on the bed with his knee in her back.

The man’s behavior became more violent when officers handcuffed him, and he planted his heels in the floor, and fell to the ground to avoid officers taking him out of the room.

One officer “delivered a knee strike to his buttocks,” and they got him to the hallway.

The man barricaded his feet to avoid getting placed in the car, and kicked at the officers, who “provided strikes to his body” and forced him into the back seat.

Three officers suffered injuries, according to the affidavit.

The man faces multiple misdemeanor charges, including third-degree assault, and three counts of second-degree assault on assault on a police officer, a felony.

Midland car chase

A Glenwood Springs police officer spotted a white Cadillac sedan driving north on Midland Ave after 10 p.m. Jan 17.

The car didn’t have a license plate on the rear, and the officer attempted to make a traffic stop. But the car accelerated, going 42 mph in a 25 mph zone, and crossed a double yellow line to pass several cars.

Driving north in the southbound lanes, which had snow and ice after a day of storms, the car nearly hit a vehicle head-on, the officer wrote in the affidavit.

The driver slid on the icy road and nearly lost control, and nearly hit another car near the West Meadows traffic light.

The car did not pull over until around Devereaux Road, where the officer told the driver to exit the vehicle and get on the ground.

The driver, William Del Mazo, 24, was arrested without incident. Police found no registration or insurance, but did locate a pipe and pieces of foil with scorch marks consistent with drug use, and a 5-inch stiletto knife and a digital scale.

Once at the jail, the suspect “agreed he was trying to elude” the officer, according to the affidavit.

Registered sex offender gets new charges for domestic violence

Dispatchers could hear yelling in the background when a woman called asking for a civil standby to get someone else’s belongings out of a Rifle townhouse Jan. 19.

When an officer arrived, he saw two men through the screen door. One man, 32, began talking very fast and told police that he was trying to get his wife out of the house, according to the probable cause statement.

The man appeared jittery. He presented his knuckles to the officer and asked if they looked like he had punched anything. The officer saw no scuffs to the knuckles.

The man said his wife was going to tell police he had hit her, because they had wrestled over her phone the night before.

The man’s information indicated that he was on parole and a registered sex offender.

The man said he suspected his wife of texting another man, and had taken her phone while she was asleep, and read texts where his wife said she was trying to leave him.

He woke her up, and confronted her, and they struggled over the phone. He said his wife had one bruise under her eye from a piece of wood he accidentally hurt her with earlier.

The wife told another officer that when her husband woke up and yelled about the test messages, he began to hit her multiple times. She showed the officer bruises on her shoulder and arms. She also said her husband attempted to strangle her, but since she is bigger than him it only lasted a few seconds.

She told officers that she and her husband smoke weed every day, but her husband was not high at the time of the alleged beating.

The man was arrested, and faces charges of second-degree assault, a felony, and misdemeanor assault.

Editor’s note: The Post Independent identifies those arrested on suspicion of serious crimes and when a suspect posed a significant risk to public safety.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Derek Johnson sentenced to 6 years in prison for stealing, selling equipment from Aspen Skiing Co.

Former Aspen Skiing Co. executive Derek Johnson was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison for stealing skis and merchandise from the company and reselling the gear online for more than a decade.

In letters to District Judge Chris Seldin, SkiCo executives said Johnson stole more than $6 million worth of equipment during his scheme. They say he also was a bully who emotionally abused employees, reduced their wages and stunted their careers.

At Tuesday’s sentencing at the Pitkin County Courthouse, Johnson sat in the courtroom wearing a sport coat and dress shirt. He was taken into custody of the Department of Corrections to start his sentence. He was credited with one day of time served.

Johnson, 52, pleaded guilty in November to one count of felony theft between $100,000 and $1 million. Johnson — who also served one term on Aspen City Council (2009 to ’13) and ran for mayor in 2013 — was facing between four and 12 years in prison.

His wife, Kerri Johnson, 48, pleaded guilty to felony theft in December as part of the scheme, and while prosecutors agreed not to ask for a prison sentence in her case, she will serve an unspecified probation sentence and possibly some time in the Pitkin County Jail. She is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

“This was no instance of isolated theft that might be explained away as a brief lapse in judgment,” Skico CEO Mike Kaplan wrote on behalf of Skico and its employees in a two-page letter to the judge. “On the contrary, Derek engaged in an ongoing, intentional, coordinated effort to steal from Aspen Skiing Company. This deception was methodical, intentional and remains unfathomable to me.”

On Tuesday, Seldin sealed the letters written to the judge. The Aspen Times obtained the letters last week in a request to the Court Clerk’s office.

The couple, who have three children, also will have to pay back Skico $250,000 as part of the plea deal.

After the sentencing, Johnson mouthed “I love you” to his family members, who were seated in the courtroom gallery.

Police and prosecutors alleged that Johnson and his wife stole more than $2.4 million in skis, snowboards and other goods during his 17-year tenure as managing director of Skico’s rental/retail department. The sales were conducted through eBay, and included billing Skico for the boxes they used to send their customers the stolen skis.

However, according to the letters from Kaplan and other executives, that turns out to be the amount the couple made selling Skico property at cut-rate prices, not the value of the products or what Skico paid for them.

There were nearly 30 letters sent to Seldin in support of Johnson and asking for a light sentence. They came from family members, neighbors, parents of kids he coached in football, current and former area elected officials and former business associates.

Area law enforcement prepare as red flag gun law provisions take effect

Local agencies have some concerns about the controversial gun law that took effect at the start of the new year.

Extreme risk protection orders, part of the so-called red flag gun law passed in Colorado last year, can be used to take guns away from someone that a judge deems a risk to themselves or others.

Sheriff Lou Vallario is adamantly opposed to the law, but absent any repeal or legal challenge, he and other agencies may be tasked with enforcing an extreme risk protection order if someone invokes it in Garfield County.

Law agencies, including municipal police departments and the sheriff’s office, will meet with 9th Judicial District staff in February to iron out how the process will work.

“We’re going to have some kind of discussion with the judges and the courts about what this is going to look like, but essentially the process is outlined in the statute,” Vallario said.

The judicial district is ready to process any petition now, but there are still a lot of processes that are uncertain, court executive Lynn Reed said.

The meeting “is really just making sure the communication is as consistent as it can be,” she said.

Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein hopes the meeting will clear up some questions he has about the process.

“There are a lot of unknowns. It’s brand new, and just like any system there will be kinks,” Klein said.

A petition can come from a family member, or someone in the household of a person who is suspected to be dangerous, according to the statute.

But it’s not clear how the law enforcement agency would be notified of a pending protection order proceeding, Klein said.

“It’s really a matter of procedure, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle,” Klein said.

It’s also unclear what law enforcement agency will be responsible for enforcing the order. Sheriff’s offices typically handle serving other kinds of protection orders, but the statute doesn’t specifically designate the extreme risk protection orders to the sheriff.

After filing a petition, there is a 14-day period before the hearing with a judge. At that hearing, the petitioner is supposed to submit evidence that the person with the gun poses a risk. The court will provide a lawyer for the subject of the petition.

If the judge agrees that the person “poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to self or others in the near future” by having, or purchasing a firearm, the judge will grant the order, restricting the person from possessing or purchasing guns for 364 days.

That’s the part of the process that Klein and Vallario are worried about.

“If somebody doesn’t want to voluntarily hand (their guns) over, I think that heightens the level of danger for law enforcement, because they know we’re coming,” Vallario said.

That puts officers in a potentially high-risk situation.

“Being a police officer is inherently dangerous, but this type of order can put them potentially into a very dangerous position,” Klein said.

Law enforcement can also file petitions for extreme risk protection orders.

In fact, the first use of the law on Jan. 2 came from Denver Police, and was filed against a man law enforcement considered as a suicide risk several days before.

Vallario said he doesn’t see it as the best tool for someone contemplating suicide, since the gun is only one way to self-harm.

“The issue there is really the mental health issue, about helping him with crisis intervention with suicidal thoughts, not taking things away from him that he might use to commit suicide,” Vallario said.

In the kind of situation where a person is threatening suicide, law enforcement can use what’s known as an M1 hold, where a person is detained for up to 72 hours for mental health screening.

The red flag law has not yet been invoked in Garfield County, and Klein believes it will rarely come up.

The incoming Glenwood Springs Police chief, Joseph Deras, has some experience with a similar red flag law in California.

Deras told The Post Independent that as captain of the Gilory Police Department, some of his officers had to secure firearms from people with sustained mental incapacitation.

“This has not occurred with much frequency. Oftentimes, we have been able to resolve this issue with the patient and/or suspect voluntarily surrendering their weapons,” Deras said.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Woman sentenced in Glenwood hotel sex trafficking case

A 26-year-old Denver woman was sentenced to probation Thursday, concluding the prosecution of three cases stemming from a sex trafficking scheme that operated in Glenwood Springs during the summer of 2017.

Damara Hester was sentenced to three years probation with a number of stipulations, and will be required to register as a sex offender. That’s a requirement for pleading guilty to keeping a place of prostitution, a class 3 felony.

The prostitution ring involved two minors who were sold for sex out of a Glenwood Springs hotel in July 2017 by Hester and codefendant Dasjuan Goode, who accepted a plea deal in August and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October.

Ron Braden of Edwards pleaded guilty to misdemeanor solicitation of a prostitute and contributing to the delinquency of a minor purchasing sex with one of the victims, age 17 at the time, and sentenced to probation in December.

The three guilty pleas mean that the victims in the case will not have to testify at trial.

Public defender Elise Myer said Hester “is a victim as much as she is an offender,” and had experienced significant trauma from being part of the sex industry and coming from a family associated with gangs.

Myer mentioned the recent Battlement to the Bells Anti-Human Trafficking summit in Rifle, where several speakers said that addressing human trafficking will require reducing the demand for commercial sex.

“Mr. Braden, who did purchase sex from a minor, did not plead to a sex offense,” Myer said.

“It’s my understanding that (Braden) will not have to do nearly the same type of work on himself” that Hester will have to do, Myer told the judge.

Assistant Attorney General Janet Drake said Hester showed a lack of remorse for her role in victimizing the two teenage girls.

Drake said Hester has opportunities to change her life, but if she doesn’t her son and unborn child could be at risk.

“If she continues down this path, she will continue to be involved in the cycle of children being separated from parents,” Drake said.

As part of probation, Hester is required to avoid drugs and go to regular therapy.

Her internet usage will also be monitored and Hester is not allowed to access other illicit websites like BackPage, which was apparently used in this case to advertise paid sex.

“You are very young, Ms. Hester. You can do this. You can get away from your past,” Judge Denise Lynch said.

Hester declined to make a statement at the sentencing hearing.

Lynch advised Hester to study for a GED or vocational certification, and avoid drugs and gangs.

“Don’t let any pimps take advantage of you anymore,” Lynch said.

“Yes ma’am,” Hester replied.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Crime Briefs: Stolen Gucci, Modelo and meth in parking garage, and a hotel room with drugs

Intoxicated man gives car keys to stranger   

On Jan. 9, shortly after midnight, a Glenwood Springs Police officer arrested a 28-year-old man near Taco Bell on Grand Avenue who was wanted on several charges. 

According to the arrest affidavit, on Dec. 29, a male party reported having several items stolen from his vehicle, which was parked near the 800 block of Grand Avenue. 

The missing items included a “Gucci wallet worth $350,” “Tom Ford sunglasses valued at $180,” $400 cash, as well as the man’s driver’s license and debit card. 

The reporting party, who was intoxicated at the time, said he had given his car keys to a 28-year-old man, who he met for the first time that night.

According to the affidavit, the 28-year-old man attempted to get a room at a local hotel using cash and the driver’s license he allegedly took from the reporting party’s vehicle. 

However, the hotel’s front desk clerk — who happened to be a friend of the man whose possessions were stolen — denied the 28-year-old man a room.

After confronting the man about fraudulently using his friend’s driver’s license, the 28-year-old man left the property but was arrested several days later in Glenwood Springs. 

The suspect was booked into the Garfield County Jail where he was charged with first degree criminal trespass, theft, identity theft and criminal possession of a financial device. 

Modelo and meth on money 

On Jan. 11, at approximately 11:53 p.m., a Glenwood Springs Police officer observed two males in an Infiniti sedan in the Ninth Street parking garage.

“I know from my training and experience that people will drink alcohol and use drugs in their vehicles before going to the downtown bars,” the officer noted in the arrest affidavit.

Upon approaching the sedan, the officer noticed “open containers of Modelo beer within the vehicle.”

According to the affidavit, the officer also saw a $5 bill folded in half with “a white substance in the middle,” which later tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine. 

The vehicle’s 23-year-old driver was arrested and booked into the Garfield County Jail for unlawful possession of a controlled substance. 

Drugs in Rifle hotel room

On Jan. 12, a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy and Rifle Police officer confronted a man staying at a Rifle hotel regarding a possible stolen vehicle. 

According to the arrest affidavit, the vehicle’s owner said the people who had allegedly stolen his car were staying at a local hotel. 

When law enforcement officers arrived on scene, they noticed the reported stolen vehicle bearing “fictitious Colorado license plates” and knocked on the corresponding hotel room’s door. 

The room’s occupant — a 22-year-old man — was “deceptive during the interview,” according to the affidavit.

Additionally, the officers “in plain view” saw items commonly used for the consumption of illegal narcotics, including a large torch and a glass pipe.

The man allegedly told officers “he just wanted to sleep because he had not slept in two days.”

The officers recognized the man from multiple previous contacts and searched the room after receiving permission to do so from the suspect’s parole officer. 

The search turned up “19.6 grams” of a substance, which tested presumptive positive for meth, as well as drug paraphernalia items. 

The 22-year-old man was arrested and booked into the Garfield County Jail on several charges including: unlawful possession and distribution of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, violation of a protection order and reckless endangerment. 

mabennett@postindependent.com  

Police confirm attempted robbery preceded fatal officer-involved shooting

A New Castle Police officer shot and killed an armed man Saturday after he fled the scene of an attempted robbery in Glenwood Springs, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Monday.

Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire identified the man as Eric Reynolds, 43, a New Castle resident.

The autopsy conducted Monday showed that Reynolds was shot multiple times, but Glassmire declined to say how many gunshot wounds there were.

“The autopsy did reveal there were multiple gunshot wounds. However, only one gunshot wound was fatal,” Glassmire said in a statement.

Eric Reynolds. (Department of Corrections photo)

According to Garfield County Sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe, the man had fled the Azteca West store in West Glenwood Springs after an attempted robbery around 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Reynolds entered El Azteca, walked straight to the counter, and robbed an employee at gunpoint, store owner Salvador Barragan said Monday.

Barragan, who owns two Azteca stores in Glenwood Springs, said he wasn’t at the West Glenwood location at the time of the robbery.

“He entered the store (and) went straight to the robbery,” Barragan said.

Besides the employee at the counter, no one else was in the store at the time of the robbery, he said.

“I believe he was probably just waiting for everybody to be out so he could go in,” Barragan said.

Based on information gathered by Glenwood Springs Police officers, who responded to the reported robbery at Azteca, law enforcement located the suspect’s car traveling west on Interstate 70, and tried to stop the vehicle.

The man fled that traffic stop, and New Castle Police picked up the pursuit of the vehicle. At some point, the suspect vehicle began traveling against the flow of traffic, according to information from the sheriff’s office.

“The pursuit ended with the suspect vehicle traveling east in the westbound lanes of I-70,” Stowe said in a statement. “He ultimately lost control and crashed.”

Reynolds attempted to flee “and allegedly brandished a weapon,” Stowe said.

“The suspect, who refused to obey officer commands, was ultimately shot by New Castle Police officers,” Stowe said.

The man “was treated at the scene and unfortunately was pronounced deceased a short time afterwards,” New Castle Police Chief Tony Pagni said in a statement.

A woman who was with the male suspect surrendered without incident, Stowe said.

Two New Castle Police officers are currently on administrative leave following the incident, Pagni said, but one officer will return to duty soon.

I-70 was closed for several hours during the incident, and traffic was diverted to U.S. Highway 6 between the New Castle and Canyon Creek exits.

According to court records, Reynolds has spent time in the Department of Corrections for multiple felonies, including an Aspen apartment burglary in 2015. 

The inter-agency 9th Judicial District Critical Incident Team, which looks into fatal shootings involving law enforcement within the district, has opened an investigation into the incident.

The Critical Incident Team asks that anyone who saw the Saturday incident, or has information related to it, contact the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office on the non-emergency dispatch line, 970-625-8095.

tphippen@postindependent.com