The Grand Junction Police Department held our annual badge pinning and promotional ceremony this afternoon. We were also pleased to honor 15 employees who are celebrating years of service anniversaries in 2018, ranging from five years with our agency all the way up to one employee who has been with us for 35 years. Congratulations to Bev Lindsay, who spent 34 years with the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center before deciding to try something new when she moved to our Records division earlier this year!
We are also pleased to welcome the seven newest members to our police family; Officer Will Pena, Officer Nate Ralston, Officer Elijah Brito, Officer Shane Long, Officer Chris Wood, Officer Bryce Raber, and Officer Bryan Espinosa. It’s so special to get to celebrate the badge pinning of new officers with their proud loved ones. Each of these officers brings a range of life and professional experience with them to the job, and we look forward to the contributions they’ll make to this community.
We also celebrated several promotions today. Trent Rundquist has been selected as our new Crime Lab Supervisor. Trent has worked for the GJPD as a criminalist, primarily assigned to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation lab, since 2007. Trent is a certified latent print examiner and crime scene technician, and served as the technical lead for the CBI’s latent print, footwear, and tire section from 2012-2017. Earlier this year, Trent was recognized by the Rocky Mountain Division of the International Association for Identification with an Outstanding Achievement Award for his work with various training and procedural issues. We are so fortunate to have highly skilled leaders like Trent at the GJPD!
Additionally, we were able to promote three sergeants with our organization to the position of commander. Bill Baker has been with the Grand Junction Police Department since 1997, serving with the Montrose Police Department before joining us. Bill has experience as motor officer during his tenure with us, and is also a certified firing range officer. Bill is also an experienced detective, working with and supervising our Investigations division for over 10 years. Recently, Bill has been instrumental in implenting tools to enhance internal communication among staff, providing a more efficient workflow. He will be serving as a patrol commander.
Shawn Hasty started his law enforcement career as a sheriff’s deputy in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1994. He came to the Grand Junction Police Department in 1998. Shawn has a long list of specialized service in our agency. He served as a field training officer and a corporal before being promoted to sergeant in 2011. He served on the Drug Task Force for nine years, half of that time as a supervisor. He is currently a SWAT team leader, a defensive tactics instructor, a firearms instructor, and a patrol tactics instructor. He will also be serving as a patrol commander.
Clint Newton joined the GJPD in 2003, serving at both the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office prior to that. Clint served on our SWAT team for eight years, and spent seven years as a detective for the Drug Task Force. Clint was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2015, and served as the sergeant of both the Persons and Property Crimes divisions in our Investigations unit for the last two years. Clint will continue his assignment in Investigations, serving as the commander.
“The internal talent in this agency never ceases to amaze me. With experienced supervisors like the ones we promoted today, we are setting our organization up for future success for years to come,” says Chief Doug Shoemaker. “Celebrating employment anniversaries and honoring our newest officers at their badge pinnings is a reminder that we’re moving in the right direction and we’re creating a culture of excellence at the Grand Junction Police Department that we can all be proud to be a part of.”
Shortly after 12:30 this afternoon, a 911 call came into the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center stating that there was a report of a person pointing a gun at a subject in the area of Tope Elementary School on N. 7th Street.
Officers immediately responded to the area to investigate and contacted the reporting party and the subject who said he saw the gun. While in the area, officers heard what they believed sounded like gun shots in the area of N. 7th Street and Orchard Avenue. Tope Elementary and Grand Junction High School were put into lockdown and law enforcement from all over Mesa County responded to the area, including the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Fruita Police Department, and the Colorado State Patrol. The SWAT teams from the GJPD and MCSO were also dispatched to the call. A safety perimeter was set up in the area and N. 7th Street was closed from Bookcliff Avenue to Elm Avenue, and approximately a block east and west of N. 7th Street on Orchard Avenue. A shelter in place notification was sent to 2,611 residents in a half mile radius of N. 7th Street and Orchard Avenue. Officers contacted residents, conducted a safety sweep of the area on foot, and completed searches of homes in the area where officers believed the shots may have originated. No suspect was located and no evidence of a weapons violation was found. We are not aware of any other witnesses to the reported person with the gun.
Only when officers had searched the area and felt confident that the scene was safe for the schools and residents did they begin to clear the area and help transition schools back to normal operations. At approximately 2pm, schools were transitioned to shelter in place, and at 2:15pm, the shelter in place emergency notification to residents was released. Schools were released on schedule and officers remained on scene out of an abundance of caution, with an increased law enforcement presence in the area for over three hours from the initial call. It’s not lost on us that safety threats to a school can leave parents feeling frightened and unnerved. The added law enforcement presence is intended to be reassuring and to remind you that the safety of your kids is our priority.
We recognize how alarming these types of incidents are for parents, students, and faculty of our schools. Our community has made clear that they expect that law enforcement in Mesa County train, prepare, and collaborate for an efficient, effective response whenever there is a threat to our schools, real or perceived. That’s what happened today. We train and work with law enforcement partners and with the Mesa County Valley School District to make sure that we have plans in place to quickly respond and protect. We encourage parents to view the school safety video that was created this year to share what’s happening in your child’s school during a shelter in place or lockdown. The video also talks about what to expect from law enforcement, and what we ask of parents as these situations unfold. We appreciate your patience and support.
This morning, while walking to school at Bookcliff Middle School, a student called 911 after he was approached by a male in a vehicle. The suspect, who the student was familiar with from previous interactions, offered the student candy and encouraged him to get in his car. The student was alarmed by the interaction with the male, and immediately ran away and called 911. Officers with the GJPD, who were already in the area working the school zone, responded immediately and contacted the student. They were also able to make contact with the suspect within minutes of the incident occurring. The male, identified as Lane Leppin, age 58, has subsequently been arrested and remanded to the Mesa County Jail for second degree attempted kidnapping.
The student in this incident student did exactly what we want kids to do when they feel uncomfortable or frightened by a stranger; run away, find an adult, call 911. This particular student said that he had talked to his parents about what to do in a situation like this, and he was able to act immediately. Parents, please be sure you’re talking to your kids about personal safety so they can feel empowered to act if they are afraid.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, September 22nd, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of a shooting at a residence in the 1100 Block of Main Street. Upon arrival, officers located one adult male with a single gunshot wound to his chest. The victim, who has been identified by the Mesa County Coroner’s Office as 21 year old Brett Ojiyi, was pronounced dead at the scene.
After conducting numerous interviews and evaluating evidence over the weekend, we have determined that the gunshot was not self-inflicted. We have identified all parties involved in this incident, and all subjects are cooperating with the investigation. Although no arrests have been made at this time, we want to reassure our community that we have no reason to believe that there is any ongoing public safety threat related to this incident.
It is critical that we continue to thoroughly work through the details of this investigation, to include additional interviews of witnesses and evaluation of evidence to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting, in order to obtain an accurate picture of what occurred. This is not a quick process. As it becomes reasonable to release further details, we will share them.
This is a heart breaking situation for everyone affected, and our sympathies are with families and loved ones who are suffering.
Shortly after midnight, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a residence in the 1100 Block of Main Street on a report of a shooting. Personnel with the GJPD and medical personnel with the Grand Junction Fire Department responded and located one adult male victim with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest inside the residence. Despite life saving efforts by law enforcement and
medical personnel, the victim was not able to be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene. Witnesses have been interviewed by law enforcement and, while no arrests have been made, there is not believed to be any outstanding safety threat to the community related to this incident.
This investigation is very active and ongoing. The Mesa County Coroner’s Office will be responsible for determining cause and manner of death, and will release the identity of the victim. We encourage people to refrain from perpetuating rumors on social media. We will release details as they become available.
On September 2, 2018, at approximately 8:38pm, personnel with the Grand Junction Police Department and the Grand Junction Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at 2458 Industrial Boulevard. During the course of the investigation into the fire, it was discovered that several items of value were missing from one of the two businesses housed in the building. One of the missing items was a credit card which was discovered to have been used numerous times in the hours before and after the fire occurred. Additionally, a company truck was determined to be missing from the same business. Through the work of Grand Junction Fire Investigators, it was determined that evidence from the fire pointed to arson.
In reviewing security footage from some of the businesses at which the stolen credit card was used, officers were able to identify suspects as two former employees of the business where the fire occurred. Additionally, security footage from the burned business was compared to footage obtained of the fraudulent credit card purchases, and the suspects were found to have matching physical descriptions and clothing.
Ultimately, an arrest warrant was obtained for Eric Booker, age 25, for multiple charges, including arson, burglary, and theft.
Also, an arrest warrant was obtained for Christopher Booker, age 42, for multiple charges, including arson, burglary, and theft.
Additionally, Britney Bowker, age 21, was found to be complicit in these criminal actions. An arrest warrant was obtained for her for multiple charges, including arson, burglary, and theft.
On Wednesday, September 19, law enforcement developed information that the suspects may be inside a residence in the 3200 Block of D ½ Road. Officers with the GJPD and deputies with the MCSO responded to the address and ultimately arrested all three suspects without incident.
This is a complex and robust investigation that remains active and ongoing, and additional criminal charges may be revealed throughout the course of the investigation. We commend our detectives for the diligent and detailed work that they’ve poured into this case, and the work that they continue to do.
On September 13, at approximately 5:20pm, a Grand Junction Police officer was dispatched to a report of a runaway. The reporting party stated that when she arrived home from work that afternoon, she discovered that her 15-year-old son, as well as his belongings, were missing from the hotel at which they had been staying. The reporting party spoke with other occupants of the hotel to ask if they had any information. She discovered that another occupant of the hotel, who she was familiar with, had possibly left the area that day, telling staff he was considering a return to the Front Range, where he had family. An additional witness claimed to have seen the 15-year-old male get into a vehicle, described as a red SUV, with the other male earlier in the day and leave the hotel. The tenant, identified as Samuel Jumps, age 27, was discovered to have a felony warrant out of Arapahoe County for a sex offender registration violation.
Continued attempts to contact the 15-year-old via his cell phone were unsuccessful. The victim was entered into a national database as a missing and endangered person as the investigation continued.
It was determined that Jumps drives a red Mercury Mountaineer, and registration and license plate information was obtained. The registered owner of that vehicle was contacted and stated that he had spoken to Jumps earlier in the day, and that Jumps told him that he was planning to travel to South Carolina.
A detective with the Grand Junction Police Department was able to make contact with Jumps via his cell phone. Jumps denied knowing where the 15-year-old boy was, and stated he was currently driving through the state of Kansas. Through numerous conversations, Jumps continued to deny having any knowledge as to where the boy was, and eventually agreed to drive to the nearest law enforcement agency to let officers search his car.
During this time, another detective was able to reach the victim via his cell phone, and determined that he was in Ellis, Kansas, and was unharmed. The boy was contacted and picked up by local law enforcement. Meanwhile, Jumps was contacted approximately 16 miles east of Ellis, Kansas, at a gas station in Hays, Kansas, by law enforcement who were aware of this investigation and had a description of the vehicle in which Jumps was suspected to be traveling. Jumps was detained and ultimately held on a GJPD warrant for Kidnapping (F4) and False Reporting to Authorities (M3).
We commend our officers and detectives for their diligent work in locating the victim in a matter of hours, so that he could be reunited with his family. We’re grateful for the information shared by witnesses, as well as the cooperation of law enforcement agencies across state lines who assisted in bringing this incident to resolution.