Off-duty New Castle police officer says driver rear-ended him and pulled out a rifle
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
FRUITA, Colorado ” An off-duty police officer involved in an alleged road rage incident Tuesday afternoon in Fruita claims a minor fender-bender escalated to a pursuit and a man brandishing a rifle.
“It wasn’t worth my getting shot over a fender-bender,” said 44-year-old Howard Prince, a Fruita-area resident and patrol officer with the New Castle Police Department.
Prince’s involvement in Tuesday’s alleged incident was not confirmed officially by the Fruita Police Department.
Fruita police officer John Coughran on Wednesday declined to discuss the alleged incident, saying it’s under investigation.
According to a version of events offered by Prince during a telephone interview Wednesday, the 21-year veteran cop with an extensive background working for Grand Valley law enforcement claimed his private vehicle was rear-ended by a man driving a black pickup truck.
Prince said the minor collision happened around 3:15 p.m. at the intersection of 17 1/2 and K 1/2 roads.
Prince said after he got out of his car to inspect damage, the driver of the truck backed up and drove around him. Prince claims he was “clipped” by the truck as it passed, but wasn’t hurt.
Prince said the truck sped away north on 17 1/2 Road.
He claimed he couldn’t get a license plate number.
“I was trying to call (Grand Junction) dispatch, but I couldn’t get cell phone service,” Prince said. “I finally got a hold of them.”
Prince said he followed the truck to a rural home off O Road.
The officer insisted he stopped his car, got out and asked several people standing around, “Who owns that truck?”
He claims the other man involved in the incident retrieved a rifle from his pickup and started walking toward him.
“I just heard him say repeatedly get off my (expletive) property,” Prince said.
Prince insisted he was never on private property.
He also claimed the man “cycled two or three rounds” in the bolt-action rifle. Prince said he returned to his car and backed up.
That’s where it ended.
“Law enforcement arrived, took my statement, asked me to leave and said, ‘We’ll be in touch,'” Prince said.
Mesa County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Benjamin confirmed deputies were called to assist Fruita police on the initial call.
New Castle Police Chief Chris Sadler said Prince has been a patrol officer there since August 2006.
Prince was also a patrol officer with Fruita police from 1996 to 1999.
He was a patrol deputy with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office from 1987 to 1995.
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