A cop got shot – it can happen here
Captain Richard Duran looked tired and concerned.It was 1 p.m. Trooper Brian Koch was at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. The man who shot Koch three times was somewhere in the hills south of Silt. Steven Joseph Appl was a name that hadn’t hit the radar yet.There was only one member of the Colorado State Patrol’s Glenwood Springs post who wasn’t in the field. That was Koch.By 3 p.m. Duran allowed a small smile to take over when he talked about Koch. The veteran trooper was out of surgery and doing OK. But it had already been a long, difficult day for Duran.”It really hits you hard. When the call first came in, your heart just sinks and all you’re thinking about is him,” Duran says. But there’s a job to do. There’s a dangerous fugitive on the loose. Armed and dangerous. He already shot a cop – who knows what else he’s capable of?”You just want to do the best job you can and bring him to justice. You get so focused on the job,” he says.At the press conference Duran said, “We’re very motivated, very concerned.”It was filled with a determined tone. A lot of people focused on the job Wednesday. As the manhunt went on, Duran quickly got a good understanding of the brotherhood that comes with law enforcement.”When something like this happens, the word goes out. We don’t call them, they call us asking what they can do,” he says. “It’s a real sense of teamwork.The brotherhood is always ready.”That’s such a great feeling. We go out everyday and we’re such big agencies we lose track of those things,” Duran says.But shortly after gunshots shattered the peaceful night south of Silt, came the worst call in law enforcement. Trooper Koch was shot – an officer was down.The rest of the night and day was intense and full of worry.Duran’s voice perks up when he talks about the good news that came in about Koch’s condition.”There’s such a sigh of relief when you get the good news.”Around 7 p.m., Appl killed himself at a checkpoint.It’s after 10:30 Wednesday night and Duran has just got off the phone with Trooper Koch. Duran passed along the news that Appl is dead. Authorities are sure he was the shooter.Duran’s thoughts sum up the outcome of a long roller-coaster day: “I’m just excited that, one, Trooper Koch is going to be OK. And two, we got the person we were looking for. There’s a good sense of relief for the citizens.”The community responded too. Duran said there were numerous calls asking about Trooper Koch. Thoughts, prayers and good wishes for an injured trooper.Earlier Wednesday morning at 8:30, when the news of the shooting started trickling in, 20-year-old Natalie Wurtsmith’s thoughts turned to her dad. It’s something she never really thought about before. Cops don’t get shot in small towns. That was the thought of many, including Natalie.Her dad is 43-year-old Chris Wurtsmith, an officer for the Carbondale Police Department. Even though he was far removed from the 11:20 p.m. shooting of Koch outside of Silt, it hit awfully close to home for Natalie.”It’s one thing for it to happen in the big city but now it’s close to home,” she says. “It makes me think that it can happen here.”It makes her think that it could happen to her dad.”You never know who he’s going to pull over,” she says. “You never know.”A cop did get shot Tuesday night and it got everyone’s attention.”I hope that people won’t take cops for granted anymore,” Natalie says, again thinking of her dad, the cop.At 11:20 Tuesday night, a cop was shot. We now all know it can happen here, because it did.
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