Glenwood Springs police apprehend alleged North Carolina sex offender, accomplice after Tuesday confrontation

Glenwood Springs police say they likely saved the lives of three children found in the custody of a wanted sex offender from North Carolina, who was arrested Tuesday along with an alleged accomplice.

Glenwood Police Chief Joseph Deras said Thursday that, around 2 p.m. Tuesday, police officers did a routine registration check at Glenwood Meadows on a Dodge Durango bearing North Carolina plates. 

Officers learned that the vehicle was connected to a wanted violent felon whose warrants allowed for nationwide extradition, Deras said.

“The officers kept the vehicle under surveillance while they contacted North Carolina detectives,” Deras said in a news release. “We were told the suspect had multiple felony warrants for sex crimes, and that he has been known to flee or resist law enforcement, and that all efforts to detain him should be made.”

Officers kept watch and then followed the suspect vehicle to Veltus Park on Midland Avenue, where it was pulled over.

Police immediately contacted the passenger, James Gillis, 31, reported to reside in Stanly and Montgomery counties, North Carolina, who was told he was under arrest.

Meanwhile, the driver, Jennifer Bryant, also 31, attempted to drive away but was unsuccessful and was also detained.

Three female juveniles, ranging in ages from 7 to 12 years old, were also removed from the vehicle and kept away from the immediate scene, Deras said.

Gillis reportedly continued to resist arrest but was ultimately apprehended and allegedly told officers he had a shotgun in the vehicle, which was located directly behind where the children had been seated. Ammunition for the weapon was also located in the vehicle, according to the release. 

“We later learned he reported that he had planned to shoot himself and everyone else close to him,” Deras said in the release.

James Gillis (Garfield County Detention Center booking photo)

Gillis and Bryant were both booked into the Garfield County Jail and await extradition on pending charges out of North Carolina. According to the release, those charge include, for Gillis, two counts of child abuse involving serious bodily injury, second degree forcible sexual offenses, statutory sexual offenses on a child by an adult and crimes against nature, and for Bryant, two counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury.

Meanwhile, the three children were taken into protective custody and will also be transferred to North Carolina protective services, Deras said. A small dog that was also in the vehicle and appeared to have been abused, was also taken to a local animal rescue facility and will be available for adoption, he said.

“We are firm in our belief we saved the lives of the children in this contact,” Deras said in commending the officers’ actions that led to the arrests. “We could not be prouder of their focused, deliberate and necessary work.”

Deras said he could not disclose the relationship of the children to the pair, but said they are not Gillis’s children.

Jennifer Bryant (Garfield County Detention Center booking photo)

He did say, however, that Bryant is accused of facilitating crimes allegedly committed by Gillis by not removing them from danger.

“There was a period of time where she separated herself from him; however, she later re-connected with him and the crimes against children resumed,” Deras said they learned in communications with North Carolina officials.

Gillis is alleged to have fled North Carolina with Bryant and the children after he learned he was the suspect in the crimes.

“Their plan was to remain at large and travel through different parts of the country,” Deras said. “They were going to support themselves by working for mobile food delivery services.”

Further conversation with the alleged victims suggested the crimes continued on the road between North Carolina and Glenwood Springs, and that there may be additional victims, possibly even locally, the release stated.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Glenwood Springs police detectives. At this time, however, the two are not facing local charges and only awaiting extradition, Deras said

While waiting things out at the scene of the arrest, Deras said the children drew and colored pictures and collected rocks to give to the detectives. Officers also paid out of pocket to put together a care package for the children, and a woman who happened by the scene also bought food and some other items for them, he said.

“Investigating these types of crimes has a profound toll on our staff,” Deras said. “They are challenged with the effects of these investigations and the impacts on the young and defenseless victims.”

Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at or at 970-384-9160.

Carbondale juveniles detained for shooting gel beads at students, others around town

Two juveniles were detained Thursday in Carbondale, and police across the country are apparently on alert for students acting out on a new social media challenge to shoot people with non-lethal gel beads.

Carbondale Police said they received a report around 11:24 a.m. Thursday of juveniles allegedly shooting the water-filled pellets, called Orbeez, at several middle school-aged students at Miners Park.

“The students from the park had minor injuries and were treated by their teacher; further medical attention was not needed,” according to a news release from Carbondale Police Chief Kirk Wilson.

He said police officers were advised by the victims that the juvenile suspects were in a black pickup truck. Officers then received another call of a silver sedan with juveniles inside shooting Orbeez beads at people in the downtown area.

Officers located the vehicles matching the descriptions at Roaring Fork High School, and asked that the school place a “hold” on students, teachers and staff until the juvenile suspects could be identified and escorted to the front office, Wilson said.

The juveniles were detained and could face criminal charges including menacing and assault, he said.

Wilson said he heard other area police agencies have had similar reports of people shooting Orbeez beads at people, including in Glenwood Springs.

He said that, during the investigation, his department was made aware of a TikTok challenge (#orbeezchallenge) where players are challenged to shoot the gel beads at people. He said the beads can be easily obtained at big-box stores.

“We encourage parents to talk to their kids about the level of severity of improperly using any weapon,” Wilson said.

In the wake of the deadly school shooting Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas, and other recent incidences elsewhere locally and around the country, the gel-bean challenge is inappropriate, Wilson said.

“In talking with some of the victims here, they are outraged, angry, upset and bothered by this,“ he said. “We take the safety of our community, including schools, very seriously, especially after the tragic school shooting in Texas earlier this week.”

Wilson added that there is no immediate threat to the community, and the juveniles are currently being detained, pending charges. The case remains under investigation, he said.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

Basalt bartender’s disdain for local vodka triggers incident that leads to arrest on suspicion of menacing, assault

Christopher D. Barker
Eagle County Jail booking photo

A Basalt bartender was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing, stalking and three misdemeanors after he allegedly went into a violent rage Tuesday when he learned a customer worked for Woody Creek Distillery.

Christopher D. Barker, 43, of Aspen Village, was arrested after a tense 20 minutes that included his alleged assault of his boss and another co-worker, pursuit of two customers outside of the restaurant and a confrontation with another man who intervened, according to Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott. Barker allegedly pulled a knife on the intervenor, and the intervenor responded by pulling a handgun, according to an affidavit for a warrantless arrest filed in Eagle County District Court by Basalt police.

Knott said it was fortunate the episode didn’t end in tragedy after the intervenor pulled his handgun out of a holster during the chaotic moments when the first officer, Lt. Aaron Munch, arrived on the scene. The intervenor intended to show he posed no threat to officers, but the action of pulling his gun could have easily been misconstrued, Knott said.

“Lt. Munch showed great restraint and control of the situation,” Knott said.

The arrest warrant said a woman was drinking at the Ocean restaurant’s bar in Willits Town Center with a male companion at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when Barker noticed the Woody Creek Distillery logo on the woman’s shirt.

“Christopher commented stating something to the effect of, ‘Your vodka sucks,'” the arrest affidavit said. “Christopher continue to give his negative opinion on Woody Creek Distillery, making it extremely uncomfortable for (the woman and man).”

The customers decided to leave, but Barker continued to be aggressive toward them, according to police. The owner of the restaurant and other employees tried to restrain Barker as he attempted to chase the man and woman as they departed. The owner later told police he feared Barker wanted to physically harm the woman.

Barker allegedly elbowed his boss in the face and punched him in the stomach as Barker attempted to get at the customers. Barker also allegedly slammed another co-worker’s hand in the door while employees were trying to prevent him from attacking the customers.

Several employees of the restaurant restrained Barker while the customers departed. The customers initially entered a neighboring restaurant but left when they found it too full. Meanwhile, the Ocean’s owner ordered Barker out of the restaurant.

Incident spills into neighboring business

Barker and the two customers made contact by chance about 1½ blocks away from Ocean restaurant. He flipped them off while they flipped him off, the affidavit said. Barker allegedly gave chase and the couple ducked into a nearby business seeking refuge.

“(The female customer) was hiding in one of the offices as (the male customer) and staff requested (Barker) leave,” the affidavit said.

The woman later told police she feared for her life while she was in hiding. She called a friend who lives nearby in Willits. The friend’s husband heard about the woman’s predicament and decided to help, Knott said. The intervenor went to the business where the woman was hiding and got into a physical altercation with Barker, according to witnesses.

Barker allegedly pulled out a knife used by bartenders to open wine bottles and threatened the intervenor, the affidavit said. The intervenor “showed Christopher that he had a gun,” the affidavit said. “Christopher continued to threaten (the intervenor) as he moved towards him. (The intervenor) then pulled the gun out and pointed it at Christopher.”

Barker dropped his knife shortly before Lt. Munch arrived at the scene. The 911 calls to police dispatch disclosed that weapons were involved, so Munch exited his car with his handgun drawn.

Chaos greets first officer

Munch encountered a scene at the sidewalk along Robinson Street with one man screaming (Barker) and another man (the intervenor) a short distance away with a pistol visible in his holster, according to footage from Munch’s body cam. The Aspen Times reviewed that footage.

Munch ordered the man with the gun to get down on his knees, and as the man started to comply, he calmly pulled his pistol out of the holster and set it on the ground. Munch was clearly concerned while the man was pulling out the handgun and screamed at the man to get face down to the ground and then crawl away from the gun. Almost simultaneously he ordered Barker to sit on the sidewalk. Another officer arrived, and both men were placed in handcuffs for “investigative custody,” the affidavit said.

Knott said he interviewed the man who intervened in the dispute and learned he had intended to show he was compliant when he removed the pistol from the holster. He said he later realized his action could have been construed differently by the police officer, according to Knott.

The intervenor wasn’t arrested, though Basalt police asked the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to review the incident and rule whether a charge was warranted.

Multiple witnesses, some with videos, confirmed that the intervenor pulled his handgun only after Barker made threats with a knife and allegedly yelled, “I’m going to kill you,” according to the affidavit.

Officer Nino Santiago questioned Barker and said he smelled alcohol on Barker’s breath. Barker admitted he was drinking that day and that he had experienced some mental health issues, the affidavit said.

Barker was arrested on suspicion of two counts of third-degree assault for actions against two of his co-workers who tried to restrain him at Ocean. He was also arrested on suspicion of criminal mischief for other actions at the restaurant.

Barker was arrested on a charge of suspicion of stalking, a class 5 felony, for following the female and male customers out of Ocean. He was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing for pulling the knife and threatening the intervenor.

He was taken to Eagle County Detention Center on Tuesday night. Jail records show he was released Wednesday after posting $2,500 bail. His first appearance in Eagle County Court is May 6.

Rifle juvenile suspected in fatal shooting held without bond, judge orders

Members of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office gather at an apartment complex on Patterson Road in Grand Junction on Monday following the arrest of the Garfield County juvenile wanted in a fatal Sunday shooting. Dale Shrull / Grand Junction Sentinel

A juvenile arrested in connection to a fatal Sunday morning shooting at a quinceanera birthday near Rifle is being held without bond.

D’Antiago “Dante” Lazaro Dominguez-Lopez, 17, was arrested Monday in Mesa County. He was wanted for the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old male at the celebration on Home Ranch Road shortly after midnight Sunday.

Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find the victim still alive, but he was later pronounced dead at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

D’Antiago 'Dante' Lazaro Dominguez-Lopez

Garfield County District Court Judge Paul Metzger made the order to detain Lopez without bond during the Rifle juvenile’s initial appearance Tuesday morning.

“Under these circumstances, having reviewed the affidavit and considered the arguments of the parties, I do ultimately conclude that the juvenile poses a substantial risk of serious harm to others, and therefore find that he should remain in detention at this time,” Metzger said.

According to prosecuting attorney Tony Hershey, Lopez was already on probation for felony menacing with a knife prior to his Monday arrest. Meanwhile, Lopez also allegedly possessed two handguns and brass knuckles when he was arrested by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.

“After the incident in this case, (Lopez) did flee the county, he went to Mesa County,” Hershey said. “I believe at some point he was contacted by his mother and sister, and that’s when he was apprehended.”

Garfield County public defender Elise Myer requested Lopez be released from detention because he does not pose a flight risk and that facts in connection to his new homicide case are currently “limited.”

Myer also said Lopez has been abiding to the terms of his probation and was working concrete with his father prior to his Monday arrest.

“These are incredibly serious crimes, but he is presumed innocent,” Myer said. “D’Antiago is willing to abide by any conditions the court may put on a release. He is happy to stay at home with his family, to not leave. He has a good relationship with his family, with his parents, with his siblings.”

Lopez’s next court date is set for May 11.

The rising threat of fentanyl: How the deadly synthetic opioid has gained traction in Colorado and Eagle County

In 2021, GRANITE seized 70 pounds of fentanyl along the I-70 corridor running through Eagle County. The fentanyl was found exclusively in counterfeit oxycodone M30 pills, like the ones pictured above.
GRANITE/Courtesy photo

Across Colorado, a silent killer has become increasingly responsible for a number of overdose deaths. Between 2015 and 2021, fentanyl’s death toll in Colorado has increased at a faster rate than all other states in the country except Alaska. Whether on its own or in a combination with other drugs, fentanyl’s potency and growing presence has become a rising problem in the state and across the nation.

The next wave of the opioid crisis, fentanyl poses a threat to communities where recreational and habitual drug users could be unknowingly putting themselves in harm’s way.

A three-part investigative series

Part I: Inside the new wave of the opioid crisis and how fentanyl is changing the drug landscape

Part II: How local organizations and community leaders are working to increase access to harm reduction and prevention resources

Part III: Educating youth about fentanyl and the danger it poses

The growing fentanyl crisis is an example of the challenges lurking beneath the rosy exterior of mountain resort living. However, a group of community members, local leaders and experts are attempting to bring conversations around fentanyl to the surface — tackling the problem before it gets out of control.

What is fentanyl?

While the rise of synthetic fentanyl has had widespread impacts, the drug was initially created for pharmaceutical and pain management use.

“Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management and treatment of cancer and cancer patients and symptoms,” said Kala Bettis, the outreach operations manager at Eagle Valley Behavioral Health.

A lethal dose of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl (from left to right).
Drug Enforcement Administration/Courtesy Photo

As a substance, fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and 10 times stronger then heroin — meaning a lethal dose of fentanyl is significantly smaller than a lethal dose of any other opiate.

While fentanyl’s origins were in medical pain management, the fentanyl currently being seized and seen on the streets is a whole other beast.

Maggie Seldeen, founder of High Rockies Harm Reduction, referred to the fentanyl on the streets as “an illicitly manufactured white powder.”

“It’s unique in the sense that it can really be disguised as anything,” Seldeen added. “It’s a powder, so we see it in cocaine, MDMA and right now in fake pills — it’s really replacing all other street opiates.”

While the rise of this synthetic opiate could be attributed to many things, there has been a significant uptick in these counterfeit pills since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 upset drug trafficking, and that’s where fentanyl was able to come in and basically replace a lot of drugs, like MDMA, on the black market that were white powders,” Seldeen said. “When COVID upset drug trafficking, fentanyl took its place, and now fentanyl is probably here to stay, because it’s just more economically viable, because it’s produced in a lab, like meth would be, and it’s just easier to make than growing poppies.”

“It’s now so cheap and easy to obtain, especially compared to other drugs, that it has virtually taken over the drug landscape,” Seldeen added.

According to a release from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the pandemic “affected drug trafficking organizations operations’ production, packaging, transportation, distribution, and money laundering tactics.”

However, these drug trafficking organizations quickly adapted, and adapted in ways that led to a rise in fentanyl.

In a 2021 report to Congress, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs reported that these trends toward synthetic opioids like fentanyl occurred because it can be manufactured “virtually anywhere,” has low production costs, can be tailored to the psycho-effects desired by consumers, and its extreme potency allows for these organizations to “reap enormous profits while trafficking in small volumes that are difficult for authorities to detect.”

“A mere kilogram of fentanyl purchased online from black market vendors can be pressed into 1 million counterfeit pills and sold illegally for millions of dollars in the United States,” the report concludes.

In this report, the Bureau also emphasized the rise of e-commerce as a way to traffic and sell drugs.

“The perceived anonymity and convenience of the internet, including the use of nonindexed web sites and encrypted peer-to-peer messaging, allow criminals to complete illicit transactions easily, often using loosely regulated virtual currencies, while broadening their market base,” the report read.

Fentanyl in Eagle County

The national — and even global — rise of this synthetic fentanyl, and specifically fentanyl in counterfeit pills, is consistent with the seizures of the drug that GRANITE, the Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team, has made in recent years.

In 2021, GRANITE seized 70 pounds of fentanyl along the I-70 corridor running through Eagle County. The fentanyl was found exclusively in counterfeit oxycodone M30 pills. Detectives from GRANITE — who wished to remain anonymous due to the undercover nature of their jobs — said that nearly every other bust that the team makes has anywhere between 3 and 5 pounds of fentanyl.

Laced and Lethal: A community conversation about fentanyl

Mountain Youth is hosting a free community event at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards on Thursday, April 14, starting with a dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by a discussion at 6 p.m. featuring three community speakers. This forum seeks to destigmatize pill culture and fentanyl and address the “this doesn’t relate to me” attitude that exists.
 Attendees will also take away the best techniques for preventing drug misuse, overdose, and disease and learn how individuals at all levels can help combat our current public health crisis.

About the speakers

Amy Hermes is a licensed professional counselor and licensed addiction counselor who is trained to serve those struggling with both mental health and/or substance-related issues with a trauma informed approach.

Maggie Seldeen battled her own addictions for years and now wants to give back to the community that created her. Maggie combines her life experience and passion for social justice in dealing with persons who have a history of substance use.

Carole Bukovich lost her son to a pill laced with fentanyl in 2021. Carole is a beloved Eagle County resident who raised a family here and wants to share the message that the fentanyl crisis has reached our community. She wants to share her story so that no parent has to experience this loss.

“People also have pill presses where they’re making knock-off pills and they’re stamping them so they look like other prescription pills when in fact they’re either pure fentanyl or they have been cut with fentanyl in there,” the detectives said.

The proliferation of these pills has led to a rise of overdoses. According to data from the Vital Statistics Program of the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment, fentanyl has constituted a larger proportion of prescription drug overdose deaths since 2017. The drug was prevalent in 22% of drug overdose deaths in 2017, increased to 51% in 2019, and hit 67.6% in 2020.

In 2020, out of 582 drug overdose deaths — already up from 251 deaths in 2019 — 540 were fentanyl-related.

In 2021, these rates continued to rise. Based on current information, the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment reported that the synthetic opioid was involved in 890 overdose deaths — out of a total of 1,814 drug overdoses — last year.

Source: Colorado Department of Health and the Environment’s Vital Statistics Program

These numbers are based on vital records and death certificate registration. With that, 2021 data is not yet final. The data closeout for the department is in May 2022. No death data for the first three months of 2022 is yet available as there is typically a three- to four-month lag in records, according to a representative from the state’s Vital Statistics Program.

The department also reported that Eagle County, along with the neighboring mountain resort counties of Garfield, Lake, Pitkin and Summit — experienced 10 opioid deaths per 100,000 in 2021, up from 6.6 in 2019. Eagle County had seven overdose deaths per 100,000 in 2021, according tto data from the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment.

“Even if you, as an individual, are not using substances that you believe could be laced with fentanyl, you’re probably one degree of separation away from someone who is really at risk, and that’s why this matters,” Hermes said. “This is a community problem, this isn’t something that’s happening outside the bubble of the Vail Valley.”

I-70 is the major connector for Eagle County to the rest of the world, serving as the main artery for the transport and distribution of drugs. According to GRANITE detectives, while the interstate means that drugs travel through and past Eagle County, they also return to the county.

The Interstate 70 corridor is a major drug trafficking route and local law enforcement officials with the the Gore Range Narcotics Interdiction Team say activity is up everywhere.
GRANITE/Courtesy photo

“A lot of the people that are trafficking narcotics, it’s pretty much all originating from Mexico, coming across the border and then their drug mules usually are making various stops in the country,” an official said. “It’s going all over the country, but primarily we’re finding a lot of the people we’re contacting are going directly to the Denver area. and then it’s brought back up into Eagle County and surrounding communities.”

With this, there has been an increase in the use, distribution and existence of fentanyl in Eagle County.

“Fentanyl is most definitely in our communities, and its prevalence continues to grow. It is now found laced in other hard drugs lending to people being exposed to it unknowingly,” said Heidi McCollum, the district attorney for the 5th Judicial District — which spans Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties.

McCollum reported that Eagle County has seen an increase in fentanyl cases being prosecuted for both use and distribution in the last few years, mirroring trends across the state and country

“From a district attorney’s perspective, we’ve seen an increase across our four counties in fentanyl use, distribution and thus a rise in this dangerous drug’s impact to residents and their families,” she added.

McCollum added that there is no stereotype for whom the drug affects, but said that “our more rural, mountainous area seems to be prone for a continued rise in illicit drug use.”

A wider impact

Jake Bukovich, a graduate of Battle Mountain High School, was 21 when he died from a fentanyl-related overdose in August 2021.
Courtesy photo

The ability for fentanyl to fade into and be disguised as other drugs and pills — paired with its extreme lethality — not only significantly increases the risk for overdose, but it has the ability to impact a wider population.

“Before we started seeing fentanyl in all kinds of drugs, it was really just impacting injection heroin users the most,” Seldeen said. “Now, it’s impacting anyone who chooses to use molly or cocaine on the weekends — it’s effecting a lot more people in general.”

For Seldeen, she said the biggest concern experts in the field are seeing is the risk for adolescents, particularly with the rise of party drugs and pill culture.

“Now it’s just really increasing this risk as we’re seeing fentanyl in everything. Now, some young people just out for the weekend could potentially make a decision that would inadvertently end their lives, and they would not even know what happened,” Seldeen said. “Youth and recreational users are not as aware of the dangers of fentanyl as regular opioid users are, so they are at a heightened risk for overdose.”

Currently, Seldeen said that almost everyone has been affected by addiction as well as an overdose at this point. Thus, getting rid of the stigmas around drug use and addiction will lead us down a unobstructed path to recovery.

“Ninety-five percent of Americans use some form of mind-altering substance,” Seldeen said. “We believe that we need to take the stigma out of substance abuse to help people effectively.”

Amy Hermes, an Eagle County based professional counselor and addiction counselor, first became aware of the hidden problem of substance abuse when she worked for eight years at the local detention center as a case manager.

But recently, with fentanyl, and greater opioid addiction, “the game has changed,” Hermes said. “The issue has become acutely serious in a really short amount of time.”

Hermes became aware of the immense impact of fentanyl through her son, who is currently a senior at University of Colorado Boulder. Earlier this year, her son lost his third frat brother to an overdose.

“Kids are dying and it’s totally unintentional,” Hermes said. “Fentanyl and fentanyl overdoses are not discriminatory. It’s really senseless that kids are not being informed of really the dangers of just substance use, because fentanyl can pretty much be laced into pretty much any sort of substance now.”

Jake Bukovich was a star athlete, a bright student and beloved friend and son. “… He was very special, he was a positive kid, he was very loved by so many, he made such a big impact in this world in the time that he was here,” said his mother, Carole Bukovich.
Courtesy photo

Last August, Eagle County resident Carole Bukovich lost her 21-year-old son, Jake, to a fentanyl-related overdose. Bukovich experienced firsthand not only the devastating potential of fentanyl but that the drug does not discriminate.

In many ways, Jake was like other kids that grow up in Eagle County. In others, he was incredibly unique, Bukovich said.

“Jake was a really smart kid, great in school — he took AP classes, he went to college as a sophomore. He was a star athlete, he definitely had a wild side and jumped off the biggest cliffs,” she said. “But he was just not that different — I mean he was different, he was very special, he was a positive kid, he was very loved by so many, he made such a big impact in this world in the time that he was here — but he could’ve been your kid.”

When Jake died in August 2021, he was 21 credits away from graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in computer science.

“He had so much going for him, and he made a choice. He took all that away and devastated so many lives,” Bukovich said.

“It’s just one small choice that ends a life. It’s not your kid being addicted to heroin, there’s not a lot of signs out there,” Bukovich said, before adding that the current party culture and lifestyle around drugs and prescription drugs — and the prevalence of fentanyl in these drugs — has changed the game.

“It’s an extreme danger, and it’s so dangerous that one bad choice is all it takes to not wake up and see another day,” she said. “We all make choices every day, and we all make bad choices, bad choices that 99% of the time you can fix. (With fentanyl), this is a choice to take a pill that means you might not wake up tomorrow, and you can’t take that back.”

For Bukovich, the message Jake would have wanted her to share is clear.

“Kids think they’re invincible — I know Jake did, and if he was here, he would beg you to not make that choice,” Bukovich said. “If he could be here today, he would tell you not to take that chance — don’t do it, you may not get another chance.”

Jury trial begins for Grand Junction man linked to 2018 Carbondale overdose death

Attorneys continued jury selection Wednesday for the trial of a man accused of distributing fentanyl pills that resulted in the overdose deaths of two men in Garfield and Mesa Counties. The jury selection began Monday for the case of Bruce Holder of Grand Junction.

Holder is charged with distribution of a controlled substance (fentanyl) resulting in death, namely, the death of John Ellington of Carbondale. The charge is punishable by up to life in prison and a $20 million fine. Holder also faces five other federal charges.

Ellington died Dec. 28, 2017 by overdose on Dec. 28 in Carbondale after coming into contact with fentanyl or a fentanyl mixture.

The Garfield County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Ellington died that day of fentanyl intoxication.

A second man identified in court records as “Z.G.” survived a near-fatal overdose the same night, according to court documents.

An affidavit in support of the warrant details an investigation which began in early 2018 after an overdose death in late 2017. Law enforcement contacted an individual named Z.G., who survived death by overdose due to the administration of NARCAN.

“Z.G. identified the potential cause of his overdose, little blue pills marked with an “M,” and began the trail of information which ultimately led to Defendant Bruce Holder,” court records state.

Holder is accused of purchasing large quantities of fentanyl-laced pills from Mexico and distributing them throughout Western Colorado.

Tanner Crosby, 18, died May 19, 2018 from a fentanyl overdose. The source of the fentanyl could be traced back to Holder, according to court documents.

Lexus Holder, Corina Holder, Geri Bochmann, Jessica Brady, and Marie Matos were indicted by a federal grand jury on similar charges for their involvement with distribution of the fentanyl supplied by Holder.

Those defendants have each entered pleas of guilty in this matter and are currently scheduled for sentencing once they fulfill the conditions of their plea agreements, which include potential testimony in the trial of Holder.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or

Motions in Torreyson murder case seek to catch defendant up on evidence

A slew of motions by Glenwood Springs murder defendant Trevor Torreyson, who is representing himself, continues to further delay the now two-and-a-half-year-old case.

In a Tuesday review hearing before District Judge James Boyd, Torreyson said he is missing thousands of pages of discovery documents, and wants his advisory counsel to forfeit their appointment to his case.

Torreyson, 44, stands accused of beating Keith Wayne to death on June 20, 2018, during what police investigators indicated was a night of heavy drinking involving the two homeless men in a small private park area off Storm King Road in West Glenwood.

Torreyson has remained in the Garfield County Jail on $1 million bond since his arrest the day after the incident at his nearby camp along Interstate 70.

Since taking on his own defense in September, Torreyson said he has been busy trying to obtain all of the documentation and evidence in the case from the various court-appointed attorneys who have represented him.

He has also filed eight different motions, ranging from asking for documents to seeking new advisory counsel in his case.

Attorneys appointed to advise a defendant in a criminal case can offer procedural advice, but do not fully represent a client who is acting pro se.

“A lot of these motions aren’t clear enough to understand what he is requesting, and what grievances he has,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory said during the Tuesday hearing.

Appearing before the judge via the videoconference application Webex from the county jail, Torreyson said he is “missing well over 9,600 pages of discovery,” and has not been given reasonable access to digital evidence in his case.

A half-day motions hearing was scheduled for the morning of Jan. 20, 2021, which could lead to the scheduling of a preliminary hearing in the case.

Wayne, 56 at the time of the incident, was found dead the night of June 20, 2018 near several car dealerships in West Glenwood off of Storm King Road, with wounds on his left temple consistent with blunt force trauma.

The first officers on the scene found dry blood boot tracks on the concrete, leading west from the scene.

When police arrested Torreyson the next day, he was discovered in his campsite with blood on his boots, pants, shirt and arms, according to evidence in the case.

Police initially identified Torreyson as the primary suspect because of a bandana officers found at the scene under Wayne’s body, which officers recognized from previous contacts with the defendant.

140 mph car chase from Utah ends in Eagle County

Two men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly leading law enforcement on a multi-state car chase that damaged a Parachute police car — and carrying large quantities of drugs.

Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey said the chase endangered hundreds of lives.

“This is a car chase that covered two states and three counties, and put, I would say, hundreds of lives at risk. Fortunately, we’re in a quarantine and there are not many drivers,” Hershey said during a teleconference advisement hearing Thursday.

The driver, 34-year-old Andre Watkins, faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, including distribution of a schedule 1 drug which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

According to a probable cause document filed in the 9th District Court, law enforcement started following a speeding Chevrolet Camaro in Utah. Colorado State Patrol picked up the chase briefly in Mesa County on Interstate 70, where the car was allegedly traveling between 130 and 140 mph.

Colorado State Patrol informed the Parachute Police Department to be on the lookout, as the car would likely have to stop to refuel.

A Parachute officer spotted a white Camaro with a black convertible roof, and followed as it exited the highway in Parachute to get gas.

Around 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, the Parachute officer approached the Camaro at the gas station.

“As I drove closer to the vehicle, it accelerated towards me at a high rate of speed veering to my left and narrowly avoid hitting my vehicle and the fuel pumps,” the Parachute officer wrote in an affidavit.

The chase resumed, and the car tried to make a wide turn in the Turkey Park area, spun in the grass and started heading toward the officer’s car.

“I had to turn hard to the right as the vehicle seemed to turn at the very last moment and the front driver’s side door collided with the front of my vehicle,” the officer wrote.

The officer was uninjured.

The collision damaged the bumper of the patrol car, estimated to cost about $300 to repair.

The chase resumed with state patrol and other agencies pursuing the car east on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

The car exited the highway at Grizzly Creek, then proceeded eastbound in the westbound lanes of the upper deck — which is currently closed for construction.

The car crossed back to travel in the eastbound lanes at the Hanging Lake exit.

Westbound traffic at the Hanging Lake Tunnel was shut down temporarily, then eastbound traffic was stopped at the tunnel while law enforcement pursued the vehicle into Eagle County.

Law enforcement tried unsuccessfully to end the chase using stop strips multiple times as the car “made extremely aggressive maneuvers to avoid running over the strips,” according to the affidavit.

The vehicle passed several other cars on the shoulder, and at one point passed between two semi-tractor trucks on the two-lane freeway.

It is believed that Camaro came to a stop after it ran out of gas near the town of Eagle, according to the affidavit, and the two men fled south on foot. Watkins and the passenger, who is 25, were arrested at gunpoint after a brief foot chase.

In the trunk of the Camaro, state troopers found “three large garbage bags containing a green leafy substance which smelled like marijuana,” and a pound of pills that later tested positive as Ecstasy/MDMA.

Both suspects are from Illinois. Judge Denise Lynch set Watkins’ bond at $1,000, and the passenger received a personal recognizance bond with $1,500 attached to it.

The two suspects are required to appear either in person or by phone for an arraignment May 12.