Hotchkiss man pleads guilty to stealing Eagle County detective’s assault rifle
Keaton Bell, 24, of Hotchkiss pleaded guilty last week before Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to one count of possession of stolen firearms and ammunition, and to one count of possession of a machine gun, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
According to court documents, in October 2012 an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office detective and SWAT team member was in Denver undergoing cancer treatment. He lived in Gypsum with his girlfriend, who visited him periodically in Denver during his cancer treatment. The detective’s girlfriend gave her girlfriend permission to stay at the detective’s Gypsum home while the two were in Denver for the cancer treatment. The person staying at the home invited her boyfriend, Bell, to stay with her in Gypsum.
While Bell and his girlfriend were at the home between Oct. 5 and Oct. 7, they got into a fight. Bell eventually left, taking the detective’s SWAT equipment, including a machine gun, a handgun, ammunition and tactical gear, which had been stored in the basement of the home.
At the time the crime was reported, Bell was reportedly in Alberta, Canada, working for a mining company. Officers went to Bell’s home in Hotchkiss on Nov. 2, 2012, and were unable to reach anyone. When they were eventually able to contact Bell, officers asked for permission to search Bell’s pickup. He granted them permission as along as a family member was present.
During the search officers found, a leg holster for a taser of the same kind used by the Special Operations Unit to which Hall was assigned. Hall confirmed the leg holster was his. Officers then issued a warrant for Bell’s arrest.
On Nov. 20, 2012, Bell was reported as a suspicious person at a Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs, and police were called. The Glenwood Springs Police Department arrested Bell on the Eagle County arrest warrant. Investigators confirmed that Bell stole from Hall a Colt rifle, a Glock, a .380 pistol, magazines, and a suppressor for the rifle.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant and found a camouflage-colored rifle case under the driver’s side rear wheel well of Bell’s truck, which contained the following items stolen from Hall’s home: a Colt M4 Commando .223 fully automatic rifle, an EOTech sight system, a Surefire light system, a GemTech Halo suppressor, a Glock 9 mm Model 26 semi-automatic pistol, and two .223 caliber magazines. They also found the Bersa .380 pistol with holster under the hood and in the engine compartment of the vehicle.
The Colt rifle is imprinted with information that the weapon is fully automatic. Further, the firearm was clean when it was stolen and dirty when recovered, indicating it had been fired.
Bell faces up to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine for each of the counts to which he has pleaded guilty.
This case has been investigated by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.
Judge Kane is scheduled to sentence Bell on August 22, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
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