Westminster man has unbelievably bad day
Steven Traver’s house caught on fire. He got shot in the stomach.
He was having a bad day.
But after Glenwood Springs police became suspicious of his story, his day only got worse.
The Westminster man was arrested after he set his house on fire last week, then drove to Glenwood Springs and shot himself in an attempt to support a fictitious explanation of the arson, police say.
Traver, 28, was treated at Valley View Hospital for a superficial gunshot wound just before 5 a.m. Sept. 17, said Glenwood police Lt. Lou Vallario. He originally told Glenwood police he had been shot on Interstate 70 by the No Name Tunnel by the same people who had burned his house, said Vallario.
However, police immediately had doubts about his story and he soon confessed that he had shot himself with a .22-caliber handgun, Vallario said.
“He was trying to cover his tracks in the arson,” Vallario said.
Traver faces several arson counts in connection with the house fire, which reportedly caused extensive damage, said Westminster police detective Tim Wright.
Vallario said Traver first gave an elaborate account of events leading up to the shooting. He said he was fired from his job, reported someone may have taken money out of his bank account and said someone left a threatening note at his house.
Then there was the fire. Finally, he said, he pulled over just west of the No Name Tunnel with car trouble, and was shot by someone.
To believe Traver, more bad things happened to him in the course of a day than most people have happen to them in a lifetime, Vallario said
“Nothing matched up,” he said.
In addition, Traver had powder burns on his jacket, and police concluded he had been shot at close range.
Vallario said police suspected he was involved in a drug deal or a case of domestic violence. But after searching the No Name area for evidence to back up Traver’s story, police found nothing.
When challenged on his story, Traver told police that he shot himself in the area of the Glenwood Springs Community Center, Vallario said.
At least part of Traver’s story bears some element of truth: Wright said he had been unemployed for about three weeks prior to the arson.
Wright said police were looking at insurance fraud as one motive for the arson, but he wouldn’t say what that investigation turned up.
Vallario can’t say for sure, but he assumes insurance fraud was behind Traver’s actions.
“Arson 101 tells you most of the time that probably is true,” he said.
Wright said Traver had no serious prior criminal history.
According to Wright’s timeline, Traver left Westminster right after starting the fire, and shot himself almost immediately upon arrival in Glenwood Springs. Wright said the fire was started about 1:30 a.m. Sept. 17.
He said Traver’s family, including his wife and her younger brother, went to Glenwood Springs on Sept. 16. The wife, whom Wright declined to identify, has relatives in the Glenwood Springs area, Wright said.
He said the wife and brother-in-law have not been charged in the case.
For all of Traver’s current legal problems, it could be worse. Vallario said Glenwood police didn’t bother filing false reporting charges against Traver, given the more serious charges he faces in Westminster.
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