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Glenwood Springs shooting victim questions police tactics during recent standoff

A bullet impact on a Glenwood Springs patrol vehicle windshield from the July 14 standoff in Glenwood Springs.
Joseph Deras

A Glenwood Springs man injured by a discharged shotgun shell during a recent standoff in his residence is questioning how local law enforcers handled tactics.

Tom Parks, 63, is still recovering from surgery to remove the splintering shotgun pellets at Valley View Hospital. Looking back on the situation during a phone interview on July 19, he asked why he didn’t see police surround the entire house and why they didn’t try to break in to save a person hiding in the residence during negotiations.

“The cops were only in the front of the house, down by Riverview and West 10th (Street), down to the corner,” Parks said. “They didn’t come up at the top of West 10th (Street), they didn’t have the back of the house covered in case she came out.”



“There was no SWAT officer at my door helping cover me to escape.”

Glenwood Springs police, however, said the incident was handled according to protocols, and the result was that no one besides Parks was injured.



Expanding shotgun pellets fortunately missed Parks’ vital organs and instead penetrated his abdomen while he spoke with a 911 dispatcher that day. He didn’t immediately collapse upon impact.

A bullet hole on a Glenwood Springs patrol vehicle door from the July 14 standoff in Glenwood Springs.
Submitted/Joseph Deras

Parks said he and his girlfriend and two additional roommates needed to escape 43-year-old Craig Allen Robbins, who was armed and firing shots.

Parks is a landlord and owns a residence in the 1000 block of Riverview Drive in Glenwood Springs. Robbins has been Park’s tenant the past five years.

The morning of July 14, a verbal confrontation between Parks and Robbins over an eviction notice escalated to shots fired, according to an affidavit in support of a warrantless arrest. During the altercation Robbins allegedly began firing an assortment of personal weapons all throughout the house and, eventually, at responding police officers.

The house consists of three bedrooms, with a downstairs garage also converted into an apartment. Parks lives in the converted apartment with his girlfriend, while the additional three roommates — including Robbins — rent out the bedrooms.

After the initial altercation, Parks sought refuge in his room, where he keeps a 12-gauge shotgun next to his bed, with his girlfriend and one roommate. Robbins then fired his own 12-gauge shotgun at them through a steel door to the bedroom.

“I heard him upstairs shooting at me through the door,” Parks said. “I guess I was just around the corner a little too much, and I took a shotgun blast to the stomach.”

Injuries included five grazes to the impacted area and 24 holes in his intestines, he said. One splintering projectile is still stuck in his body.

Craig Allen Robbins

Parks, his girlfriend and the one roommate eventually escaped captivity by returning fire, Parks said. His girlfriend used a .45-caliber pistol Parks kept near an exterior door to fire at Robbins as they all entered Parks’ truck parked outside to drive away.

“I would bleed to death before help would come,” Parks said. “That’s when I made the decision, life or death, to run for it.’

But after they successfully escaped, the third roommate was still hiding behind her dresser when the standoff continued.

“It was so God awful knowing that we left a roommate behind in the house with Craig,” Parks said. “She’s unarmed, and the bedroom door he can kick open with a fork and kill her.”

“I could have relayed to 911 where her bedroom window is. There could have been two SWAT officers at that corner of the house, opening up her windows to her bedroom from the outside and helping her escape.”

Parks’ cell phone and truck have since been confiscated for evidence. His girlfriend doesn’t own her own vehicle, and has been taking the bus to visit him at the hospital.

Using his hospital room phone, Parks has reached out, unsuccessfully, to the Glenwood Springs Police Department and the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for more information on the situation, he said.

“I can’t FaceTime my kids to let them know I’m OK, and they can’t see me,” he said. “And I can’t pay bills.”

Chief defends police actions

The first Glenwood Springs Police patrol vehicle to take the call was fired upon. Robbins struck the vehicle with high-caliber rounds, with the officer narrowly escaping injury by whipping an immediate U-turn. 

This prompted a quick response from multiple law enforcement agencies. Deployments included a regional SWAT team and two armored vehicles.

Meanwhile, a stay-in-place order was issued for the entire neighborhood, which was blocked off to both foot and motor-vehicle traffic. When it ended, Robbins had shot more than 50 live rounds outside of the house. Bullet impacts were also discovered on neighboring houses — including in the boxspring of a child’s bed — and at nearby Veltus Park. 

Apart from Parks, no one was injured.

Negotiators eventually talked Robbins into surrendering without incident. The one roommate hidden behind a dresser in her room during the entire standoff came out of the house alive.

Robbins was arrested for five felony counts of attempted murder, including additional charges, and is scheduled for his next appearance in Garfield County District Court at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras operated the command post and oversaw significant police presence from multiple agencies. He said his job basically orchestrates the entire operation, deploying assets where and when needed.

Contrary to what Parks said about his escape, Deras said a 360-degree perimeter was set immediately after officers met Parks and the two roommates at the end of the driveway.

“In this case, we initially believed there was a hostage in the house, so that’s an immediate, imminent threat,” he told the Post Independent on Thursday. “We need to really find a way to address that, which is probably one of the most dangerous things law enforcement could ever be engaged in.”

When the call was received, when Robbins barricaded himself in the house and when Robbins allegedly fired upon his roommates and police officers, the ultimate objective in Deras’ mind was to potentially “navigate the interior of that house, find and neutralize the threat and rescue that hostage all at the exact same time,” he said.

Deras said after police arrived and during the negotiating process was when the third roommate called 911 dispatch as she was hiding behind her dresser.

“She was afraid to leave because she felt if she came out, (Robbins) would see her and shoot her, because he already shot people in the house,” he said. “She didn’t know if he knew that she was there, so she is trying to be quiet and not make a whole lot of noise.” 

Instead of having any defense vehicles or officers extricate the third roommate, Deras relied on negotiators to talk Robbins down.

“With her in there,” Deras said, “there’s a higher level of exposure for her and for us.”

“I couldn’t really have asked for a better response, the way this thing happened.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com.


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