Rifle officer involved in shooting OK; suspect recovering
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
RIFLE – Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner was not surprised by the shootout between a Rifle Police officer and an armed man Friday night, even though he called it an isolated incident that isn’t typical for the usually quiet community.
“This isn’t Mayberry anymore. Our world has changed,” Meisner said at a press conference at the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Annex in Rifle Saturday afternoon.
According to Meisner, Philip Michael Amonette, 53, is in custody and faces charges of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly shooting an officer Friday night, around 8:20 p.m.
Two Rifle Police officers responded to a domestic dispute report at a residence in the 2100 block of Whiteriver Avenue. Authorities would not comment on the specific nature of the incident in which officers responded. However, Meisner said that once the officers arrived on the scene Amonette produced a handgun and shot one of the officers, while Amonette attempted to flee. A second officer returned fire and hit Amonette multiple times.
Amonette is recovering at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction after undergoing surgery to repair injuries sustained in the shooting. According to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, Amonette’s surgery was successful, and he is expected to live.
Vallario, who also spoke at the press conference, didn’t disclose exactly how many rounds were fired by the suspect or the officer, however he said that the one officer was hit once and the suspect was hit multiple times.
“I guess it would be fair to say that the suspect was struck more than once,” Vallario said.
Meisner said that the officer who was shot is in good condition and that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time of the shooting, which ultimately saved the officer’s life.
Neither officer’s names were released Saturday and both are currently assigned to administrative duties. The officer who was shot is a five year veteran of the Rifle Police Department. He was treated and released from Grand River Hospital in Rifle Friday night. The second officer was not injured.
Amonette is being held on a $1 million bond. According to Meisner and Vallario, he is known to be an “on-and-off” resident of Rifle and Garfield County, and has a prior criminal background as well. However, no information was released regarding Amonette’s alleged criminal background.
The investigation has been turned over to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office to protect the integrity of the case, Meisner said.
“We do this for a number of reasons,” Meisner said. “One is to ensure the credibility of the investigation to make sure that everything is done right, and to remove our department from that circle.”
Sheriff Vallario said that it’s normal protocol for the Sheriff’s Office to take over the investigation regarding an incident where a suspect has been shot to eliminate any conflict of interest. Meisner said that he has complete confidence in his officers and the way they handled the situation.
“They were in a difficult situation and faced a difficult task,” Meisner said. “These are good officers and I’m very proud of them.”
The last time a Rifle Police officer was shot was in 1984, according to Meisner. More recently, another officer was shot at, but was not hit or injured, in August, by convicted killer Daniel Kelley Renwick who escaped from a private prison in Arizona in July.
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