| PostIndependent.com

Grand Junction man busted after No Name burglary and high-speed chase

If you drive your rental car to rob a house in Garfield County, do not stop for fuel in Gypsum on your way to return it to the Eagle County airport.

Edgar Lukoff is accused of doing all that and more.

Lukoff, 45, of Grand Junction is accused of robbing a house in No Name while the residents were home, says the Colorado State Patrol.

The residents called the police around 11:30 a.m. Police put out a BOLO — Be On The Lookout — for Lukoff and the white rented Toyota Camry he was driving.

Lukoff might have been on his way to the Eagle County Regional Airport where he rented the Camry, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jake Best said.

“The white Camry was rented in Gypsum. That was a good indicator that he would be headed back east,” Best said.

He was. Lukoff was eastbound on I-70 when he pulled off the highway at the Gypsum exit, where he would get off the highway to get to the airport. He stopped at a gas station and pulled up to a pump. Lukoff looked “surprised” when a State Patrol trooper pulled up behind him and told him he was under arrest, Best said.

“He did not comply,” Best said.

Lukoff jumped back in the rented Camry, dodged a stop stick in the gas station driveway — a device designed to deflate tires — and pulled back onto I-70 eastbound at Gypsum.

The ensuing high-speed chase topped 100 mph as Lukoff weaved through traffic, pursued by three Colorado State Patrol vehicles and two Eagle County Sheriff’s vehicles, Best said.

Lukoff stopped along I-70 before reaching the Eagle exit, about seven miles from Gypsum. He jumped out of this rental car, ran down an embankment, vaulted over a deer fence, ran through the Eagle County fairgrounds and onto a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Eagle River.

As he was running, Lukoff looked back and saw a State Patrol trooper, younger and faster and gaining on him. Lukoff gave up the chase.

Meanwhile, CSP troopers had radioed ahead and were waiting along I-70 with stop sticks and patrol vehicles to intercept him, Best said.

“We’re just happy he was taken into the custody and no one was injured,” Best said.

Lukoff was returned to the Garfield County jail because that’s where the escapade started. So far, Garfield County authorities plan to charge him with burglary for the No Name robbery, as well as vehicular eluding and reckless driving in Eagle County, Best said.

Man wanted for flooding hotel arrested when he shows up for different court hearing

The man charged with flooding the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge in October was arrested Nov. 7 when he showed up for a court date on an unrelated criminal charge.

Glenwood Springs Police issued a warrant for the arrest of Khory Gagner, 30, on Oct. 15. When Gagner showed up for a scheduled court hearing for unrelated in Glenwood Springs on Nov. 7, law enforcement took him into custody, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Gagner allegedly used a fire extinguisher to break a water pipe in the stairwell of the Hot Springs Lodge around 3:40 a.m. Oct. 14, which flooded several floors below, according to court documents.

Surveillance footage from the lodge shows a man, whom police identified as Gagner from previous contacts with law enforcement, entering the front door of the hotel around 3:30 a.m., and exiting through a different door around 3:40.

When police arrived at 3:42 a.m., they saw 1 inch of water on the fourth floor, and 5 inches of water on the third floor.

Director of Operations Kevin Flohr said. “He did it from the highest floor, flooding four of our levels on the east end of our building creating a massive amount of water damage,” Director of Operations Kevin Flohr told the Post Independent in October.

Carpets on the third and fourth floors were “completely soaked with water,” according to court records, and firefighters had to use squeegees to push water out of the third floor. The second floor ceiling was dripping water as well.

The police ruled out the possibility of a malfunction in the burst pipe at the top of the stairwell, and saw marks on the cap as though it had been hit with something.

The entire hotel had to be evacuated, and multiple witnesses said the heard loud banging sounds before the water started flowing.

A fire extinguisher, with dents on the bottom matching the cap of the water pipe, was found outside the hotel.

One witness told police that after the alarm went off, she looked out the fourth-floor balcony and saw someone hiding in the shrubs. The witness said the person was possibly drunk, and stumbled as he ran off.

Hotel staff initially estimated the cost of the damage was above $20,000.

Gagner’s criminal record is extensive. He has four other open felony cases in Garfield County, as well as a misdemeanor traffic charge in Jefferson County.

In 2008, Gagner pleaded guilty to his involvement in robbing two stores in the Roaring Fork Valley and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and four years probation.

Gagner also faced trouble when he was caught breaking into a Basalt restaurant and made a plate of nachos late one night in 2010.

Gagner’s active Garfield County cases include felony traffic violations, vehicular eluding, burglary and failure to appear for court.

He is currently being held in Garfield County jail on $10,000 bond.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Man faces arson charges after burning an American flag in Vail

A Vail Valley man accused of burning an American flag turned himself Tuesday to face arson charges.

Mitchell Hamilton, 22, of EagleVail, is accused of burning an American flag on Vail’s Bridge Street around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, according to police dispatch logs. The flag had been hanging outside a Vail Village business, Vail police said.

After Vail police released a surveillance photo, Hamilton’s face was splashed all over social media.

Hamilton said he was contacted by friends who saw him on social media posts. He turned himself in at approximately 12:20 p.m. Tuesday to the Vail Police Department.

Hamilton is charged with second-degree arson and criminal mischief because he set fire to someone else’s property, not because he burned an American flag, Vail Police said.

“The Vail Police Department respects and protects all citizens’ ability to express their First Amendment rights. The flag was not Hamilton’s property and was posted on a building on Bridge Street,” the department stated in a press release.

In the same release, the Vail Police Department said the incident created a dangerous situation that could have resulted in additional items catching fire.

Vail police thanked the public for the numerous phone calls and tips received in reference to this incident.

Garfield County Crime briefs: A high speed chase, hotel room imprisonment and more

Allegedly drunk woman heading to rehab arrested driving 125 mph in the opposite direction

A woman accused of driving east up to 125 mph on Interstate 70 claims she was on her way to California for alcohol addiction treatment.

A Garfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy was stationed near the county line Nov. 8 when dispatch put out a “be on the lookout” alert for a white Honda that had eluded Colorado State Patrol troopers in Mesa County.

At 9:38 a.m., the sheriff’s deputy spotted the Honda and pursued it heading east.

The first radar measurement clocked the Honda going 125 mph, where the speed limit is 75.

Colorado State Patrol and Garfield County Sheriff’s secure the scene after a high-speed chase ended near Exit 90 on I-70 Friday near Rifle. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
I70Chase-gpi-110919

The Honda made several high-speed passes of tractor-trailers and other slower cars, at one point going onto the shoulder, creating dust clouds, and another time driving into the grass median.

Just west of the Rifle exit, officers placed deflation devices, which the Honda contacted. The pursuing sheriff “observed both front tires disintegrate from the wheel.”

The Honda came to a stop at the shoulder, and officers approached. At first, the driver didn’t comply, but eventually she exited the vehicle and told officers she had a dog in the car. The sheriff’s deputy noted she had slurred speech.

In the sheriff’s car, the 33-year-old woman, who smelled strongly of alcohol, told the deputy that she was very sorry and that she was trying to get to California for in-patient treatment for alcohol addiction.

The deputy asked if she knew where she was, and she initially said Utah “but then stated Utah or Colorado,” according to the arrest documents.

A Breathalyzer test measured the driver’s blood alcohol content at 0.219, nearly three times the amount for legal intoxication.

The driver was arrested for a host of traffic and misdemeanor offenses, as well as vehicular eluding, a felony.

Woman assaulted, feared leaving hotel room for a week

A Michigan man accused of holding a Grand Junction woman prisoner at a Parachute hotel room for a week was arrested Nov. 8 and charged with assault.

The alleged victim told police a 52-year-old man took her to a Parachute hotel, and the interaction was consensual. After sexual intercourse, the man’s demeanor changed and he became violent and angry, the woman said.

Court documents describe the woman as fearing for her life, which is why she never told the man no.

Two days before the woman called police, the man allegedly kicked her in the face when she tried to leave.

When the man pushed her out of the hotel room, she decided to call for help. Officers noticed she had two black eyes, and swelling around the face and neck.

Police arrested the man, who claimed he never did anything to hurt the alleged victim. According to the man, she got the black eye from getting drunk and falling down.

The man was arrested on charges of sexual assault, first-degree assault, domestic violence and false imprisonment.

Victim spots alleged attacker on the way to coffee shop

A trip to Starbucks yielded more than coffee for Rifle Police and a stabbing victim.

Around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 23, Rifle Police responded to reports of a stabbing near a Rifle gas station. The victim, who had been living in a nearby tent, reported being threatened by a man with a beard and tattoos on his nose.

The man had threatened to “scalp” him, or “cut his nuts off,” said the alleged victim, a 51-year-old man, according to arrest documents.

The man had blood on his shirt and arms, a bloody nose and superficial cuts on his arms.

At the man’s tent, police found what looked like blood on the flap, and an empty knife sheath in the tent.

The alleged victim was treated at the hospital and released. The following morning, a Rifle Police officer went to check on the man in his tent, who said he was cold because his clothes were taken as evidence. The alleged victim still couldn’t remember the suspected attacker’s name.

The officer asked if there was anything else he could do, and the man said he would like a cup of coffee. The officer offered to drive the man to Starbucks. On the way there, the victim spotted a man walking on the sidewalk and said that was “the person who had attacked him the previous night.”

The officer parked, made contact with the alleged attacker, who admitted to having a fight with the man in his tent. He denied stabbing the man, however, and said he had only punched him.

The man had a knife and surrendered it to the officer, who noticed what appeared to be dried blood on it. Police continued to investigate, and eventually arrested the man for second-degree assault and menacing.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Confrontation at Aspen restaurant could lead to long prison term

A Denver man could face more than three decades in prison after he was charged late last month with assaulting and seriously injuring an elderly man at an Aspen restaurant this summer, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Charles Schaper, 50, was charged with second-degree assault on an at-risk person for allegedly pushing an 85-year-old man to the ground and breaking four of his ribs after the man made an off-color comment about Schaper’s girlfriend, according to Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham and police reports.

“(The victim) was pretty injured,” Nottingham said. “It’s why we don’t allow people to assault older people — because they’re fragile.”

If convicted of the charge, Schaper would face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 32 years because the victim was more than 70 years old and considered “at risk,” Nottingham said. Schaper appeared in Pitkin County District Court on Monday and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in January.

A voice message left Wednesday for Schaper was not returned.

The situation with the 85-year-old man, who was visiting Aspen from the New York City area with his wife, occurred Aug. 31 at Jing restaurant on Main Street in the downtown core, according to an Aspen police report. The couple was having dinner with a couple from Florida, when another woman “in a red floral dress bent over their table to speak to the occupants of another table,” thereby placing her “butt” over their table, the woman from Florida told police.

“(The Florida woman) said that she asked the female to move away from their table but that she did not respond and continued talking to the occupants of the other table,” the police report states. “(The Florida woman) said that her 85-year-old friend … said to the table that he might just put a fork up her ass to get her to move.”

The remark did not go over well with Schaper, the woman’s boyfriend. The two men got into a confrontation, with Schaper allegedly in the elderly man’s face and acting in an “accosting” manner, though the situation remained verbal at that point, according to the Florida woman quoted in the police report.

The elderly man told police that later when he left the restaurant, Schaper came up to him and shoved him, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head and his back.

“I don’t know if he punched me or what, but it caused pain in my side,” the 85-year-old man told police, according to the police report. An emergency room doctor at Aspen Valley Hospital later confirmed the man suffered serious bodily injuries.

Two men told police they witnessed the incident and, according to one, that Schaper “assaulted an older male by pushing him to the ground and making him fall into the host stand,” the report states. Schaper left the scene afterward, the witness told police.

Police were able to track down Schaper through his dinner reservation. On Sept. 3, he told an Aspen police officer by phone that the elderly man “said he ought to stick a chop stick in” Schaper’s girlfriend after she bent over the table, the police report states. He said the elderly man made the remark a second time, which Schaper thought was “very inappropriate.”

When they were leaving, the 85-year-old man repeated the remark a third time, Schaper told police.

“He said he confronted the man and told him his behavior was inappropriate,” according to the police report. “He said the man tripped and fell to the floor. He said people were yelling. He said he and (his girlfriend) left quickly to get away from them.”

On Oct. 2, the victim told police that his injuries were debilitating.

“I’m suffering,” he said at the time, according to the police report. “I sleep in a chair as it’s too painful for me to lie down.”

Schaper turned himself in Oct. 4 at the Pitkin County Jail.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Man dies following altercation in Breckenridge on Wednesday night

BRECKENRIDGE — A man died following an altercation in Breckenridge on Wednesday evening, according to the Breckenridge Police Department. 

At about 9:45 p.m., the police responded to a report of gun shots in the 1000 block Grandview Drive. When they arrived, officers found a 35-year-old man from Breckenridge with a gunshot wound in his leg. Police also discovered a 29-year-old man from Florida who was unresponsive with significant injuries, though he wasn’t shot. A third person on scene called the police and was unharmed, according to a statement from the police department. 

Both injured men were treated at the scene and eventually transported to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. The 29-year-old was later transported to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, where he died from his injuries. The other man’s injuries are not believed to be life threatening. 

Few details have been released about the incident, though the initial investigation indicates there was an altercation between the two injured parties that resulted in the injuries, according to police. A handgun was recovered from the scene, and there is no threat to the community. 

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. 

Man who ran from Aspen cop leaves 38 grams of cocaine behind

More than 38 grams of cocaine and other items found inside a Denver man’s van after he ran away from an Aspen police officer in September indicate he is a drug dealer, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Cole Sharpe, 30, was charged Wednesday with unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale of illegal drugs, as well as misdemeanor resisting arrest, according to court records.

In addition to the 38.6 gram baggie of white powder that tested positive for cocaine, Aspen police found 38.6 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, a digital scale and small plastic baggies inside the 1990 GMC van, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

In court Wednesday, prosecutor Don Nottingham said the evidence gathered so far shows Sharpe is a drug dealer. Sharpe’s lawyer, Georgina Melbye, declined to comment on the allegation.

Sharpe first came to the attention of Aspen Police Officer Dan Davis on Sept. 12 just before midnight when he noticed a van idling with a light on inside in the 800 block of East Cooper Avenue, according to his report. Shades covering the front window made the officer “suspicious that perhaps something nefarious was going on,” the report states.

Davis approached the van on foot and Sharpe stepped out. When he opened the door, the officer saw another man sitting at a table with lines of white powder on it. Sharpe, who was “noticeably shaking” said he was showing off his new van his two friends, the report states.

When Sharpe handed Davis his identification, “his hand was shaking uncontrollably” and he was sweating, though Sharpe said his hand shakes because of an injury.

“I told Sharpe … it looked like they were doing cocaine,” Davis said, according to his report. “Sharpe replied, ‘Yes sir.’ I told Sharpe to put his hands on the van and as he moved to the van, he took off running.”

Instead of chasing him, Davis yelled that he still had Sharpe’s identification, but he “continued his sprint toward Original Street, turned left and disappeared into the night,” the report states.

The other two men in the van were arrested for cocaine possession.

District Judge Chris Seldin on Wednesday lowered Sharpe’s bond from $50,000 to $10,000.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

No charges for officers in Rifle shooting

The officers who shot and killed an armed Rifle man in August will not face criminal charges, 9th District Attorney Jeff Cheney announced Tuesday.

Following a three-month investigation, the DA “concluded that no officer committed a criminal violation” when shooting Allan George, then 54, in the back on the Rifle bridge as he attempted to flee arrest while armed on Aug. 5.

George never pointed his handgun at Cpl. Dewey Ryan or Officer Shelby McNeal, the two officers involved, but Ryan still didn’t commit a crime in shooting him, the DA determined. Less-lethal force was not an option, according to the officers.

“Arguably … Corporal Ryan could have fired his firearm at Mr. George as soon as he removed the handgun from concealment and openly presented it,” according to the report.

The two officers exhausted all possible measures in trying to get George to submit to arrest, according to the report. In total, Ryan and McNeal told George to put his gun down 46 times, according to a transcript of the audio recording device one of the officers was wearing.

“Where over three dozen orders to drop the weapon go unheeded, prevailing law does not require a police officer to wait until an armed and dangerous felon has drawn a bead on the officer or others before using deadly force,” the report said.

According to the report, there is evidence that George was considering suicide leading up to the incident.

George was wanted on charges of possessing child pornography, and the investigation had been going on for several weeks with his knowledge, according to the report.

George had pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child in Lake County in 2009, and in April 2019, an FBI task force investigation located George on a private Kik Messenger group that shared child pornography.

Officers interviewed George, while he was working a construction site in Vail, and he told them he “knew it was wrong, but explored several groups on Kik” looking for child pornography.

On July 30, George’s wife requested a welfare check while she was out of state, and reported that George had made suicidal statements. She also told Rifle Police that George told her he was not “going back to jail without a fight.”

A judge in Eagle County issued a warrant for George’s arrest on the morning of Aug. 5. Police visited George’s home, where his wife informed them George carried a firearm with him.

Ryan and McNeal parked their patrol vehicles on the intersection of Interstate 70 and Colorado Highway 13, at around 6:30 Aug. 5, and spotted George in his work truck around 7:11 p.m.

They pulled him over on the bridge, and George got out without being told to do so and displayed the handgun.

What followed was several minutes of confrontation. Officers kept their weapons on George and gave numerous commands for him to drop his weapon.

At one point, McNeal asked George, “So, what can we do to make you put the gun down?”

George ignored all commands, the report said. The officers believed George was going to jump off the bridge. McNeal alerted dispatch to “get river rescue team ready.”

George did not jump, but ran toward the city of Rifle, and was shot in the back twice by Ryan, according to the report.

Part of the incident was captured on video and provided to law enforcement and the Post Independent.

According to the officers, using a less-lethal TASER was not an option. When George produced the gun, he pointed it almost immediately at himself.

“Using a TASER could have caused him to squeeze the trigger and shoot himself or cause him to fall into the swift river and drown,” according to the report.

McNeal has been reinstated as an officer with the Rifle Police Department, chief Tommy Klein said, after the investigators determined she did not fire her weapon.

Ryan, who fired the two shots, is still on administrative leave pending further administrative review, Klein said.

tphippen@postindependent.com

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the employment status of the two officers.

Crime Briefs: ‘The flying bloody tissue’ and YouTube videos instead of proof of insurance

‘The flying bloody tissue’

On Nov. 1 at approximately 9:49 p.m. officers with the Parachute Police Department were dispatched to a disturbance in an area hotel room.

When officers knocked on the hotel room’s door, its occupants stated they were sleeping and needed to get dressed.

According to the arrest affidavit, it took the hotel guests “much longer than a reasonable person would take to get dressed and come to a hotel room door.”

Eventually, a woman answered. But when officers asked for her identifying information she attempted to shut the door.

Officers prevented her from doing so and upon entering the hotel room noticed a fully clothed man lying on the floor in between the beds.

After running the 32-year-old man’s name through dispatch, it was revealed that two protection orders prohibited him from possessing or consuming alcohol.

“In plain view in the room was a large bottle of an alcoholic beverage,” the officer noted in the affidavit.

While trying to place the 32-year-old man under arrest for violating the court order, the female became upset and stated, “She needed him because he was the breadwinner.”

According to the affidavit, the woman repeatedly interfered while officers  attempted to take the 32-year-old man into custody, prompting the officers to place her in handcuffs.

“At one point she stated her pants were coming down so I told her to go ahead and pull them up. Instead of pulling them up she intentionally pulled them down,” the affidavit read. “Eventually, I was able to get her down to the lobby where I had her sit in a chair.”

As one officer dealt with the female subject, the other officer had to call an ambulance after the male subject struck his head inside the police vehicle.

Later, while attempting to obtain medical clearance, the male allegedly threw his own blood-soaked tissue at a hospital security guard.

“The security guard was able to duck the flying bloody tissue. I was also not struck with the bloody tissue,” the officer stated in the affidavit.

After being medically cleared the 32-year-old man was booked into the Garfield County Jail and charged with violation of a restraining order, resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer and second degree assault.

YouTube Insurance

On Oct. 31 at approximately 5:37 p.m., an officer with the Glenwood Springs Police Department pulled over a white Chevy Silverado on suspicion of drunk driving.

Upon making contact with the vehicle’s driver, the 39-year-old man told the officer “something to the effect that everything was fine.”

According to the arrest affidavit, the driver’s eyes “were bloodshot and watery” and a “strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage” was emanating from the Chevy Silverado.

Additionally, when the officer asked for the driver’s insurance, the man said it was on his phone.

“The [39-year-old man] had pulled up a YouTube video but did not have the insurance card available,” the officer noted in the affidavit.

After directing the driver out of the vehicle and to a nearby sidewalk, the man purportedly told the officer he broke his “right toe” while “pointing to his left foot.”

The man also said that he had “cut his other leg with a chainsaw.”

After being unable to complete a voluntary roadside test, the 39-year-old man was booked into the Garfield County Jail and charged with DUI, making an improper turn and having no proof of insurance.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Pitkin County Sheriff: Cord used in jail suicide ‘shouldn’t have been there’

The extension cord used by a Woody Creek woman to hang herself in the Pitkin County Jail was left over from a previous inmate and should not have been in her cell, Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said Tuesday.

“We did something wrong,” DiSalvo said. “What’s wrong with saying that? Let the chips fall where they may. This cord shouldn’t have been there.

“I got no defense.”

Jillian White, 64, was found dead in her cell Sunday evening. White, who’d been arrested multiple times for theft, drunken driving and other charges over the past decade, had been found incompetent to stand trial and was awaiting an appointment at the state psychiatric hospital in Pueblo or a private facility to restore her to competency.

The previous occupant of White’s cell needed oxygen, and a short extension cord was used to plug the oxygenator into an outlet in the cell, DiSalvo said. When the inmate moved out of the cell, the short extension cord remained and White moved in, he said. The sheriff said he thought a television might have been plugged into the extension cord.

“We should not have an unsecured cord in the jail,” DiSalvo said. “I guess somebody’s gotta start saying that.”

However, he said he didn’t think the fact that the cord was left out would lead to punitive measures for any jail deputies.

“I’m not sure it rises to the level of discipline,” DiSalvo said. “But we’re talking about it.”

Two deputies who were placed on administrative leave with pay after White was found were allowed back to work Tuesday morning, said Alex Burchetta, chief deputy of operations. DiSalvo said their return to work indicates their mental health is good and that “there’s no reason to put them on punitive leave at this point.”

Officials from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation have been called in to offer guidance in the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into White’s death, DiSalvo said. They will act as a backstop and offer suggestions, he said.

White was last seen by deputies making a phone call between 15 and 30 minutes before she was found dead in her cell, DiSalvo said Monday. On Tuesday, he said her final call was to her mother.

Burchetta said White had not displayed any suicidal behavior prior to her body being found, and was not on suicide watch.

White’s lawyer filed a motion Friday that said she’d found a private facility that could restore White’s competency and allow her current legal cases to proceed, prosecutor Don Nottingham said Monday.

Attempts to reach White’s lawyer, Jennifer Longtin of Denver, on Monday and Tuesday have not been successful.

DiSalvo said he expects White’s death to be the subject of a civil lawsuit.

“I don’t know if we’re going to get sued, but my assumption would be yes,” he said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com