Training paid off when fugitive came to town |

Training paid off when fugitive came to town

Post Independent/Kelley Cox

Tim Fisher calmly leveled his weapon at Sam Lincoln as he exited the Budget Host Motel in West Glenwood Springs. The Western Slope’s most-wanted fugitive was directly in the cross hairs of Fisher’s scope from a second-floor room at the neighboring First Choice Inn. Fisher’s index finger was on the trigger. One squeeze and it would be over.”It was calm inside the room. I wasn’t hyped at all,” said Fisher during a training session at South Canyon recently.In the command center, Garfield County All Hazards Response Team leader Colt Cornelius and others waited, anxiety and tension high. They couldn’t see what was going down. It was 6:37 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2005.Then, a frightening pop, pop, pop echoed over the radio in the command center. Three gun shots, then they waited.”That was the longest 10 seconds of my career,” Cornelius said. “When we heard those shots fired it took your breath away. The whole room went quiet.”Then, the radio crackled again – good news. “Once they said ‘suspect in custody, no injuries,’ we could relax,” Cornelius said.

Fisher took his finger off the trigger and clicked on the safety switch.After refusing verbal commands from law enforcement, Lincoln was dropped outside the motel by shots from a less-lethal 40 mm weapon. The “sponge rounds” hit Lincoln’s legs, bringing him down immediately allowing officers to pounce on him.In Fisher’s room the outcome was like a huge cleansing breath. It went from what he was ready to do, to the best possible outcome.”When I watched him come out, I was ready to fire,” Fisher said. “I was ready to stop him from shooting my team members if I had to. I was elevated that the operation went down the way it did.”In the command center, Cornelius said there were a few cheers and handshakes, but mostly there was just relief that a fugitive was apprehended and no one was hurt.Lincoln’s reputation preceded his arrival at the motel. He was wanted on attempted murder charges, accused of shooting a man six times in the desert outside Grand Junction. A suspected methamphetamine dealer, Lincoln had been on the run for 18 days and was accused of shooting at police during a high-speed escape. The 24-year-old was also wanted for stabbing a man five times during a home evasion robbery in West Glenwood in late November 2004.When taken into custody, Lincoln had two high-powered handguns strapped to his body, both fully loaded. Two rifles and a shotgun were found in his motel room.

“That was the most intense situation we’ve been in,” said the team’s commander and Garfield County Undersheriff Tim Templon.The highly trained unit had seen action serving search warrants and helping with drug busts, but nothing like taking down a wanted man like Lincoln.”It was a little different than serving a search warrant,” Cornelius said. “We know there’s always a possibility that something could happen, but with Lincoln we knew he was dangerous and we knew what he was capable of.”Team member Chad Harris said he knew that the team would be tested and Lincoln’s fugitive past heightened the situation dramatically.”This was the real thing. Thoughts about having a criminal like that here in Glenwood is really spooky,” Harris said.The operation was a total success.”It felt good,” Templon said. “There was no lethal force and no disruption to the community. I don’t think they even knew we were there.”

The operation started around 1:30 when they found out Lincoln was at the motel. For the next five hours, the chess game started.Putting people in place, evacuating the motel, securing the perimeter and closing every possible escape route. Making sure everything was ready before they put the last phase of the plan into motion.That’s when they placed a call to Lincoln’s motel room, prompting him to leave the room.The operation was a multi-agency effort with units from Mesa and Garfield County, and the Colorado State Patrol working together to get the job done.”When the call came in, the anxiety kicks in but that’s where the training comes in,” Cornelius said. “This is what we had been training for, so we were ready.”The Lincoln incident showed that the training had paid off for the new Garfield County special unit.”It was exciting, but this is what we train for. That’s why we train, so we’ll be ready,” Fisher said.

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