Man pulls a knife after alleged theft at Glenwood mall |

Man pulls a knife after alleged theft at Glenwood mall

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A 20-year-old and three teenagers who stole a pair of sneakers, pulled a knife on an employee at the Glenwood Springs Mall and ran from police Thursday were dressed like gang members, police said.

Glenwood Springs police arrested Anthony Villegas, 20, of New Castle on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a crime, theft of less than $500 and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was taken into custody with three juvenile males mid-day Thursday in West Glenwood Springs.

Police Chief Terry Wilson said the four young men went into Famous Footwear and Villegas carried a pair of black Converse All Star shoes out of the store wrapped up in a T-shirt. A store clerk noticed the shoes and confronted the group outside the store, Wilson said.

One of the juveniles pulled an illegal “butterfly” style knife out, the clerk backed off and the group left, Wilson said.

The clerk called police with descriptions of the suspects ” four Latino males all wearing blue Dickies shirts and pants with suspenders hanging down from their waists. Police found them not far from the mall, according to an arrest affidavit.

An officer immediately handcuffed one that was later identified as Villegas, the affidavit says, and the other three ran off north of the Ocean Pearl restaurant but were pursued and arrested.

Police found a glass pipe used for smoking marijuana on one juvenile. Another juvenile had an active arrest warrant for failure to appear on a drug charge, according to the affidavit.

Villegas was named by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office last year as a person of interest who allegedly knew something about the July 29, 2007 non-fatal shooting of a Glenwood Springs police officer near the city’s municipal airport. Two other 20-year-olds were arrested and accused of the shooting and released weeks later due to a lack of evidence. The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office refused to discuss specifically why the men were arrested or unseal affidavits and warrants relating to the investigation.

Last year Villegas also was accused of assaulting a jail official. He was arrested in 2006 for allegedly stealing a car from the Target parking lot and subsequently running from police at a 7-Eleven. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said last year Villegas is a legal American citizen.

Wilson said the four suspects dressing alike did appear to police like they were in a legitimate gang.

“They gave all the appearances and all the indicators that law enforcement would look for to qualify someone as being involved in legitimate gang-like activities,” he said.

He said police do have “some familiarity” with the group, but he didn’t describe a link to other crimes and said he couldn’t discuss the matter because three of them are juveniles.

Whether Villegas, last year’s officer shooting suspects, and groups of friends circling around them are legitimate gang members was a subject of debate and speculation.

One shooting suspect said they were members of Surenos 13, an alliance of gangs based out of southern California who are associated with blue colors. His mother said they’d gotten into some trouble, but the young men were what she considered “wanna-be” gang members.

Wilson said it’s one thing to see people dressed a certain way hanging out at the park, but it’s another when they’re committing a serious crime.

“I think sometimes you can look at that stuff and you kind of see the wanna-be attitude and the appearance of it and so forth, but when it’s in concert to what I perceive to be a serious crime then I think you have to look at it in a whole new light,” Wilson said.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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