Basalt man suspected of groping store clerk
A 20-year-old Basalt man was arrested Tuesday morning for an alleged attempted sexual assault on a 67-year-old clerk at the 7-Eleven store in town.
Carlos Mira-Carranza allegedly entered the convenience store at about 4 a.m. Tuesday and bought some lottery tickets from the clerk, who was working alone at the time. Police said he grabbed the female clerk by the arm while she was working in a back hallway near a storage room and bathroom. Carranza forced the clerk into the bathroom and attempted to grope and kiss her, according to Basalt Sgt. Stu Curry.
“The store clerk was able to talk Carranza into stopping,” said a press release issued by the police department. “The store clerk explained that it was not worth going to prison over.”
The suspect “came to his senses” and stopped his actions and released the clerk from the bathroom, Curry said. He exited the store a short time later.
At about the same time that Carranza departed the 7-Eleven, Eagle County Deputy Sheriff Jianni Robinson entered the store to make a purchase, according to Curry. The clerk reported the alleged attempted sexual assault to Robinson.
Robinson reported the incident to Basalt police and aired a description of the suspect to all local law-enforcement agencies. Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Parker Lathrop was in the area and located the suspect, who was on foot, a few blocks west of 7-Eleven on Two Rivers Road, according to Curry. The arrest was made at about 4:20 or 4:30 a.m., according to Curry. The store clerk identified Carranza as the suspect, Curry said.
Basalt police officer Phil Martin arrested Carranza with unlawful sexual contact and false imprisonment, both misdemeanors, and illegal consumption of alcohol by an underage person, a petty offense.
Carranza was taken to Eagle County Jail where he is being held on $15,000 bond. Even if he posts bond, he will be held so the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency can check his residency status.
The store clerk was uninjured. Curry said Carranza is a resident of one of the mobile home parks in Basalt with no known prior contact with Basalt police. His motive for targeting the store clerk isn’t known. It’s possible he saw her as easy prey because of her age, Curry said.
Carranza was “extremely intoxicated” at the time of his arrest, Curry said.
The 7-Eleven store in Basalt has been the site of two other violent crimes in recent years. A Basalt man was convicted in August 2010 of robbing the store manager at knife point when she was working alone early on the morning of Dec. 19, 2009.
In another incident, someone fired bullets through a large front window in the store on the night of June 26, 2007. It is suspected they targeted a former clerk at the store who frequently wore a US Border Patrol baseball hat when off duty. That clerk wasn’t working at the time. No one in the store was injured. No arrests were made.
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Eastbound Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon remains closed Monday evening due to a wreck on the east side of the canyon near Dotsero.