Update on Death Investigation #GVCopBeat

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Shortly after 3:00pm on Monday afternoon, a reporting party called 911 and stated that there was a man with blood on his face laying outside in the A&W Mobile Home Park at 2837 North Avenue. The reporting party believed the male was dead.  Law enforcement and medical personnel arrived on scene and confirmed that the male was deceased.

fettig-picThe Mesa County Coroner has identified the victim as 20 year old Caleb “Clifford” Fettig. The Coroner determined the cause of death to be multiple stab wounds, and the manner of death, a homicide.  The Coroner’s report is attached here.

The investigation into this case is active and ongoing. Anyone who may have any information that could be helpful in this investigation is urged to contact the Grand Junction Police Department at (970)242-6707, reference case number 16-74550.  If you wish to remain anonymous, please call Mesa County Crime Stoppers at (970)241-STOP.

Keep Your Financial Information Safe this Holiday Season #GVCopBeat

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id-theftA couple of years ago, on a Friday afternoon, I got a phone call from my husband while I was at work.

“My debit card got declined.”

“What? Why?”

He was at the grocery store, with our two young children, buying just over $8 in produce.

My husband and I both work full time, and we try to be judicious with our funds…see above reference to two young children. I immediately got online to check our bank accounts, and discovered that they had been cleaned out—both checking and savings.  There were various charges, all out of state or to online retailers we’d never heard of.  It was devastating.  It was late Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend, and we knew that there was no chance of getting this cleared up with our credit union until the following week.  Like so many families, we had allowed ourselves to become completely dependent on our debit cards, so we had little to no cash to last us through the weekend.  Because we don’t have credit cards, it was an incredibly vulnerable feeling to think that we didn’t have money for gas in our cars or a gallon of milk over the next few days.  It was a startling violation to be robbed of resources for which we both worked hard.

It had a lasting impact on our kids, too. Our son, who was six at the time, still references the generous woman behind them in line who insisted on paying for that $8 in produce.  On the off chance that she’s reading this, please know that we have paid it forward.

Here are a few valuable tips to keep your bank accounts protected as we head into the holiday shopping season:

  1. Protect yourself from electronic pickpocketing. The same technology that allows consumers to make convenient purchases with their credit or debit card can also enable a thief to steal information and make purchases on your accounts. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) allows “contactless payment” for purchasers, forgoing the usual swipe, processing, receipt, and signature for standard electronic transactions. With the right equipment, thieves can access your card information without a direct line of sight from up to 100 meters away, simply by being in your vicinity. Consider purchasing a wallet or sleeve that blocks RFID scanner waves. They are affordable and reliable, and are sold by multiple vendors.
  2. If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or friend desperate for money, or perhaps a charity seeking funds for a cause near and dear to your heart, resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story. Hang up and check out the story or organization by talking with family and friends, or doing research online. NEVER wire money before confirming all the details with trusted advisors. Remember, in this age of technology and social media, it can be easy for motivated thieves to find details about your life, and they will play on your emotions.
  3. We all want the lowest price possible on our holiday purchases, but not at the expense of a costly scam. When shopping online, transact business with well-known sites and retailers, and look for an “https” at the beginning of the web address. That “s” means the site uses an encrypted connection, which will help protect your financial information.
  4. Have you heard the term “porch pirates”? This refers to the unsavory criminals that follow delivery trucks, hoping to snag packages from your front porch before you know they’ve been delivered. If you’re ordering items online, have them shipped to a trusted neighbor who will be home to accept the delivery, or ask the company to hold the package at their delivery center for you to pick up. Request that your package be marked “signature required,” or add special delivery instructions to have the package left out of sight, such as behind a gate or at your back door.
  5. As always, don’t leave valuable items inside your vehicle. Although the trunk of your car may seem like a good place to hide gifts from Santa, there are plenty of “Grinches” out there that would love to access your vehicle and help themselves to the treasures tucked away inside.

As we enter into the busy holiday season this week, we wish all of you safe and peaceful celebrations with your loved ones.

Release of Names from Officer Involved Shooting #GVCopBeat

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We are now able to release the identities of the subjects involved in the officer involved shooting incident that took place shortly after midnight on Friday, November 11. The Mesa County Coroner has completed the next of kin notifications to the family of the deceased.  The release from the Coroner’s office is attached here.

gaitherThe suspect in this case has been identified as Brian Gaither, age 24, of Grand Junction. At the time of this incident, Gaither had two active warrants for his arrest, one of which stemmed from a parole violation.  The second warrant resulted from a traffic stop by the Grand Junction Police Department on November 7th.  During the November 7th incident, Gaither fled from the scene of the stop, with a handgun observed in plain sight in the vehicle he was driving.  Charges stemming from that incident include Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender, Obstructing a Peace Officer, and Reckless Driving, among others.  There were no other suspects involved in the events of Friday, November 11.

jake-steeleThe officer involved in the shooting is Officer Jacob Steele. Officer Steele has worked for the Grand Junction Police Department since 2008, beginning his career as a civilian police service technician, before earning his POST certification and becoming a police officer in 2010.  Jake is an instructor for defensive tactics and de-escalation techniques, and he also teaches arrest control tactics at the Western Colorado Community College POST Academy.  During this incident, Jake sustained injuries to his leg, for which he was treated at the hospital, and released hours later.

Officer Steele remains on administrative leave during the internal investigation of this incident, which is standard protocol in these types of events. No other officers were involved in this incident.  The criminal investigation by the multi-jurisdictional Critical Incident Response Team is ongoing.



Additional Information on Officer Involved Shooting #GVCopBeat

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Cropped Badge-Transparent BackgroundFollowing are some limited details about the officer involved shooting that occurred in the early morning hours today. The investigation into the circumstances surrounding these events is still very active.  As the investigation unfolds, additional information will be discovered and more details will reveal themselves.  As with any complex investigation such as this one, information is likely to change.

Preliminary investigation indicates that an officer with the Grand Junction Police Department initiated contact with a suspicious vehicle in the area of S. 9th Street and Pitkin Avenue shortly after midnight.  The officer believed the vehicle was involved in a prior weapons violation with a known suspect.  Within moments of the initial contact, the officer requested emergency back up to his location.  Moments after that, the same officer aired “shots fired,” and requested an ambulance to respond.  Back up officers arrived on scene within minutes of the initial call, and found the officer pinned between a vehicle and a building on Pitkin Avenue.  Officers had to break a window in the vehicle in order to move the vehicle and free the officer from his position.  Medical personnel arrived on scene and determined that the male suspect, who was seated in the driver’s seat of the vehicle with apparent gunshot wounds, was deceased.  The officer was transported to the hospital for treatment, and he has since been released.  A handgun was recovered from inside of the suspect’s vehicle.

The officer involved in this incident has worked for the Grand Junction Police Department since 2008.

The criminal investigation into this matter will be handled by the multi-jurisdictional 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team, which is comprised of representatives of local and state law enforcement agencies.  The findings of that investigation will ultimately be forwarded to the District Attorney for final review and determination of lawfulness.  Concurrently, an internal investigation will take place by the Grand Junction Police Department.  The officer will remain on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the internal investigation.

The CIRT team will also be working closely with the Mesa County Coroner to notify next of kin of the deceased, as well as to determine the manner and cause of death. Notification of the identity of the deceased will be released by the Coroner’s office in the coming days, once appropriate notifications have been made.

No further information is anticipated to be released until early next week.

Overnight Officer Involved Shooting Incident #GVCopBeat

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IMG_0390Law enforcement is investigating an officer involved shooting that happened shortly after midnight near the intersection of S. 9th Street and Pitkin Avenue.  The suspect in this incident is deceased, and a Grand Junction Police officer sustained minor injuries from being dragged or pinned by the suspect’s vehicle.  The multi-jurisdictional Critical Incident Response Team will be the lead agency in this investigation, as is standard procedure with any officer involved shooting.  More information will be released as it becomes available.

More Details About Homicide Suspect Apprehension #GVCopBeat

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cuffsGRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO – Yesterday afternoon, local law enforcement in Mesa County was made aware that a suspect wanted out of Utah for homicide was possibly in our area.  Earlier this afternoon, after numerous attempts to locate and apprehend this suspect, identified as James Main, age 34, he was successfully taken into custody in the northeast area of town.  The following is a timeline of events leading up to this arrest.  Please keep in mind that this is still a very active investigation, and as details emerge, not only is this information subject to change, but it is very likely to change.

  • Saturday, 3:59pm – After receiving a notification that the suspect may be in our area, an officer with the GJPD located the suspect vehicle in the area of Rimrock Avenue and Highway 6&50. The officer initiated a traffic stop, but the suspect failed to yield, and a pursuit ensued. The suspect was observed to be driving erratically, traveling at high rates of speed, and traveling on the wrong side of the road. Ultimately, attempts to stop the suspect vehicle were terminated.
  • At approximately 4:16pm, we received a report that a male matching the description of this suspect attempted to carjack the victim in the parking lot of the City Market on 12th Street. The suspect was not successful in stealing the victim’s car, and left the area.
  • Dispatch received numerous phone calls from citizens reporting a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle driving erratically around town, and at high rates of speed. Shortly after 5:00pm, a community alert was sent out on social media, advising citizens of the suspect description, as well as the vehicle, and asking witnesses to call 911 with any information.
  • While attempts to locate the suspect continued overnight, no new information was developed.
  • Sunday, 9:20am – We received a report of an attempted carjacking in the area of N 4th Street and Hill Avenue. The suspect was not successful in stealing the victim’s car, and was reported to have left the area in a silver sedan, which was not the car originally associated with the homicide suspect.
  • An extensive search of the area was coordinated with law enforcement, with no success.
  • At 10:45am, a hit and run crash in the area of Patterson Road, in between 1st and 7th Streets, was reported. The suspect, driving a silver sedan, hit the victim’s vehicle, and then fled on foot. The suspect in the hit and run was reported to have been seen headed eastbound on Patterson Road on a blue bicycle, also presumed to be stolen.
  • At 11:03am, an emergency community notification was sent out, encompassing a 1 mile radius of N 7th Street and Patterson Road, reaching approximately 7900 homes. Citizens were advised to keep their doors locked as law enforcement personnel were actively searching for the suspect.
  • At 11:21am, dispatch received a report that a male, believed to be our suspect, entered a home on Bel Air Drive and wanted the keys to the victim’s vehicle. The victim refused, and the suspect, who was reported to be behaving erratically, left on foot.
  • At 12:24pm, we received a call from a woman who stated that the suspect had broken into her home. The suspect changed clothes while at the victim’s home, and then stole the victim’s car, along with money and credit cards, and forced the victim to go with him. The victim was able to escape the vehicle at some point on North Avenue, and contacted law enforcement. The victim was uninjured.
  • At this point, there was a very heavy concentration of law enforcement all over Mesa County, including units stationed at interstate exits. Shortly before 1:00pm, a trooper with the Colorado State Patrol spotted the stolen vehicle the suspect was believed to be driving, headed northbound on N 15th Street from the area of I70B.
  • For approximately the next 11 minutes, the suspect was pursued through the northeast area of town, driving erratically and often in the wrong direction on city streets. Ultimately, law enforcement was able to use a PIT maneuver (Pursuit Immobilization Technique) to stop the vehicle in the area of Glen Court and Gunnison Avenue, and the suspect was taken into custody without further incident.

We are incredibly grateful that no injuries to citizens or law enforcement personnel took place as a result of this incident. The suspect was transported to the hospital for evaluation as a precautionary measure, but no serious injuries are suspected.

While there is certainly the potential for a myriad of charges as a result of the suspect’s activities while in our area, this investigation is still very active, with a lot of details to sort through, and a charging decision is pending. We will work with the authorities out of the jurisdiction in Utah where Main is currently wanted for homicide.

We are very appreciative of our community for actively partnering with us to locate this dangerous suspect. We are thankful for the hundreds of “shares” of the information on social media, as well as the valuable information that was called into dispatch as the incident unfolded.

Finally, this is yet another example of the remarkable collaboration we enjoy in Mesa County with our law enforcement partners. The arrest of this suspect is the result of the work done by the Grand Junction Police Department, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol, the Fruita Police Department, the Palisade Police Department, the DeBeque Marshall’s Office, and the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center.


Tricks to Make this Halloween a Treat!

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MESA COUNTY, COLORADO – Halloween is a fun holiday for kids, but for parents, trick-or-treat time can be worrisome.  The following safety tips will help ensure that Halloween will be a fun, safe, and memorable event for all families.

Costume Selection

Costumes should be fire safe; store-bought costumes should have a flame-resistant or flame-retardant label. Costumes should allow free movement, but should not have parts that trail or drag.  Masks should provide clear vision from the front, sides, and bottom.  Finally, all props, such as fake knives, swords, guns, or weapons of any kind, should be make from cardboard or flexible materials to prevent accidental injury and avoid being mistaken for the real thing.  Be sure to take pictures of your trick-or-treaters in costume so that they could be easily identified by emergency personnel, if necessary.

Rules for the Street

An adult or trusted teen should determine the route and accompany their trick-or-treaters. If the trick-or-treaters are walking, they should carry a flashlight or glow sticks, cross streets only at intersections and designated crosswalks, and avoid major intersections whenever possible.  If an adult is driving the trick-or-treaters from place to place, they should drive slower than the posted speed limit, activate hazard lights to alert other motorists that they are driving slowly and making frequent stops, and anticipate children that may not be paying attention and could dart into traffic.

Back Home and Safe

Treats should not be eaten until an adult has checked them. Check the treats for any sign of tampering with the wrappers.  Pay special attention to homemade treats; don’t allow your children to eat them unless you know and trust the source.  Be sure to talk about anything that may have troubled or frightened your child while they were out and about.  Finally, be sure to report any suspicious or criminal activity you observe by dialing 911 for emergencies, or 242-6707 for non-emergencies.