Halloween confrontation at Glenwood Springs Wal-Mart led to arrest of suspect reaching for gun | PostIndependent.com

Halloween confrontation at Glenwood Springs Wal-Mart led to arrest of suspect reaching for gun

Alex Zorn

Glenwood Spring police officers, along with members of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department All Hazards Response Team, arrested a 26-year-old man outside Wal-Mart on Halloween morning after receiving tips from FBI Portland and other agencies regarding past threats he made to law enforcement officers.

Christopher Kline was arrested the morning of Oct. 31 as he appeared to be reaching towards his waistband and was resisting arrest, according to a police affidavit filed with the 9th Judicial District Court in Garfield County.

Upon searching him, deputies found a 9mm handgun in a holster attached to his belt below his stomach, according to the affidavit. Among his charges were attempted assault in the first degree and attempt to influence a public servant.

His bond was set at $50,000.

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson praised the quick response by the AHRT, which saw an opportunity to use nonlethal force in what could have been a very different type of confrontation.

“[AHRT officers] put themselves in position where they were close enough and were hidden behind vehicles [so that] he didn’t have enough time to get his gun,” Wilson explained. “They were on him physically and restrained him immediately.”

He said officers did not clear out the parking lot before the confrontation and hoped to get him to a more isolated location, but after he left Wal-Mart they had to act fast.

Wal-Mart security and administration were made aware of the situation, said Wilson, and police had someone undercover at the store, as well. Wilson said they were made aware of Kline after he arrived in Glenwood Springs between 7 and 8 a.m. that day after apparently camping overnight in his vehicle, in plain view of the Carbondale Police Department.

On Oct. 6, Kline was arrested in Oregon for an incident at a bar and resisting arrest, according to the arrest affidavit.

Following the arrest, he stated he was going to Fort Collins to get his firearms then come back to Oregon to “smoke the people that did this to me.”

On Oct. 25, Kline was believed to be in Colorado Springs and had already picked up his truck in Denver. He was believed to be in possession of multiple firearms and tactical gear, according to the FBI Portland “Safety Be On The Lookout” bulletin.

Glenwood Springs police officers later received information sent by the Washington County, Oregon Sheriff’s Office that his cell phone was last tracked to the Glenwood Springs area.

One of the conditions of his bond agreement was that he could not depart Oregon without permission of the court, and if he was found outside the state, he waived extradition, according to the arrest affidavit.

Just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 31, officers spotted a vehicle for illegal camping in Carbondale, “with clear visibility of the Carbondale Police Department front door.” At 7 a.m., the driver headed to the Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs where officers identified him as Christopher Kline.

He entered the store and immediately proceeded to the sporting goods section and stood at the counter directly in front of firearms and ammunition, according to the affidavit.

“[He] appeared to be looking at the firearms ammunition that was immediately within reach, as there was no security [devices] in place to prevent him from grabbing it,” states the affidavit.

Kline was later arrested outside of the store as he was reaching for the gun at his waistband.

As an officer attempted to take control of his left hand, “the male began to reach, using his right hand, sliding across his waist towards his waistband, resisting physical efforts to be detained,” the affidavit also said.

There was a loaded magazine in the gun and there was one round in the chamber, according to the affidavit.

As he was being arrested Kline could be heard saying to officers, “something bad will happen to you if you don’t let me go,” states the affidavit.

Wilson called the situation a very credible threat, as Kline had taken actions that reflected threats he made in the past.

“He took actions to come to Colorado to get his guns and his vehicle,” he said. “We felt we were dealing with a credible threat with a real intention for violence.”

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario spoke to the trickiness of the situation, because the suspect had not done anything violent locally. But, given his recent comments there were serious concerns.

“We were definitely concerned,” he added. “People make threats all the time, but for him to look like he was following through on his actions [was alarming].”

“Always err on the side of the caution,” he said.

Wilson agreed.

“We get a lot of intel bulletins from across the country,” Wilson added. “But it really brings it home when that person is in your parking lot.”

“It really brings it home to the fact that it can happen to us,” he said.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.