GJPD K9 Merlin Receives Donated Body Armor #GVCopBeat

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Grand Junction Police Department’s K9 Merlin has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. The vest was sponsored by Team Wendy and embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Team Wendy”.

MerlinVested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c(3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 3,500 U.S. made, custom fitted, NIJ certified protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $6.9 million dollars.

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at http://www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

Rumor Control: No Documents Needed for Essential Travel in Mesa County #GVCopBeat

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CIRT horizontalLocal law enforcement wants to be very clear; NO documents are needed to go to work or for essential travel under the Stay at Home order in Mesa County.

We have received questions from the community asking if critical employees traveling to and from work need an official document to prove they do in fact work for a critical service.

  1. No, you do not need a document of any kind. Neither law enforcement nor Mesa County Public Health are issuing such documents.
  2. If you are a critical employer, thank you for working during this time. You do not need to issue a document to your employees.
  3. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Junction Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Fruita Police Department and Palisade Police Department are NOT stopping people driving out in the community specifically in regards to the Stay at Home order.
  4. Law enforcement is operating under the presumption people who are out in the community are doing activities that are necessary and permissible under the Governor’s Stay at Home order.

This also applies to people who are traveling for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, picking up children from childcare, taking care of a loved one, getting medical care, etc.

For the full list of what is considered a critical business and essential travel under the Governor’s Stay at Home order, click here.

Law enforcement personnel around the Grand Valley are seeing daily examples of cooperation, compliance, and compassion in our community.  We are grateful to serve such a thoughtful and supportive community.

Update to Officer Involved Shooting #GVCopBeat

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Two Grand Junction Police Department officers were involved in an officer involved shooting on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Both officers, along with two deputies from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, discharged their weapons.

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Officer Thomas Nelson

Officer Thomas Nelson is a patrol officer who started with our agency in 2013.  Officer Nelson’s collateral assignments include defensive tactics instructor and field training officer.

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Officer Tom Wihera

Officer Tom Wihera joined the Grand Junction Police Department in 2016.  Officer Wihera currently serves as a patrol officer, with collateral assignments of field training officer and SWAT operator.  Officer Wihera is also a veteran of the United States Navy.

As is standard protocol with any officer involved shooting, both officers are currently on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which takes place separately from the criminal investigation being conducted by the 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team.  This incident remains under investigation by CIRT.  Information previously released regarding this incident can be found here.

CIRT Activated to Investigate Officer Involved Shooting #GVCopBeat

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image-2Shortly after 7:00pm on Tuesday evening, March 17, 2020, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of a felony menacing that occurred on Orchard Mesa.  The reporting party stated that an adult male subject had brandished a knife and a gun at a group of juveniles who were playing basketball at Orchard Mesa Middle School.  The male was then reported to have gone inside a nearby residence in the 300 Block of 27 3/8 Road.

Multiple officers responded to the area, including several Mesa County Sheriff’s Office deputies who arrived to assist.  Officers were able to identify a possible suspect based on the information they obtained on scene.  Attempts to reach the suspect by phone were unsuccessful.  Law enforcement also attempted loud hails, ordering the suspect out of the house.  A shelter in place notification was sent out to 126 contacts for registered addresses in the area.  At one point, the suspect exited the residence with what appeared to be a firearm.  The suspect failed to comply with orders from officers and, ultimately, was shot by law enforcement on scene.  No officers were injured.  Officers rendered aid until medical personnel arrived on scene.  The suspect was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

The Mesa County Coroner’s Office will be responsible for releasing the identity of the deceased, as well as the cause and manner of death, after appropriate notifications have been made.

As with all officer involved shootings in Mesa County, the 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team comprised of representatives of the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Fruita Police Department, Palisade Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Colorado State Parole and Colorado Bureau of Investigation, is responsible for the investigation of this incident.

Members of the Critical Incident Response Team will conduct interviews of witnesses and involved persons in this case over the coming days. Additional details will be released as appropriate, with sensitivity to the ongoing investigation. The Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office will be responsible for releasing the names of their involved personnel. The officers will be placed on administrative leave, as is standard protocol.

Anyone who witnessed this incident, as well as anyone who has security cameras that may have captured all or part of these events, is encouraged to contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at (970)248-7499.

No further updates are expected to be released before Friday, March 20th.

Crash Involving GJPD Patrol Vehicle #GVCopBeat

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At approximately 4:40pm on Friday, February 21, 2020, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of a two vehicle traffic crash at the intersection of N. 7th Street and Ute Avenue, involving a GJPD patrol car.

Although it’s very early in the investigation and all facts are not yet know, the preliminary information indicates that the GJPD patrol SUV was traveling northbound on N. 7th Street when it was broadsided by a passenger vehicle traveling westbound on Ute Avenue.  The collision caused the patrol vehicle to roll onto it’s top.

The sole occupant of the passenger car was a male driver who reported no injuries.  The patrol car was occupied by two GJPD officers.  The female officer who was driving was able to exit the car on her own.  The male officer who was traveling in the passenger seat had to be extricated by emergency personnel with the Grand Junction Fire Department.  Both officers were transported to the hospital to be evaluated; however, no serious injuries have been reported at this time.

Traffic is blocked in all direction at the intersection of N. 7th Street and Ute Avenue, and will remain closed until further notice.  The cause and contributing factors of the crash are still under investigation.  We will share more details as they become available.

Arrest Made in Death Investigation #GVCopBeat

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img_2658The suspect who was detained this afternoon in relation to the death investigation has been arrested for Murder in the First Degree.

Brachon Hyer, 21, of Grand Junction, has been remanded to the custody of the Mesa County Detention Facility for multiple offenses, including Murder in the First Degree, Aggravated Robbery, and Theft.  Hyer is believed to be the subject who was captured by security footage in the area where the crime occurred.  Hyer was contacted and detained in the the 2700 Block of G Road earlier this afternoon after a reporting party called law enforcement and stated that Hyer had confessed to killing the victim.  No booking photo of Hyer is available at this time.  We are not seeking any additional suspects related to this investigation.

Again, we appreciate the efforts of everyone who called and provided tips and information regarding this investigation.  We are fortunate to serve this compassionate community.

Suspect Detained in Death Investigation #GVCopBeat

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img_2658At approximately 3:00pm this afternoon, officers and detectives with the Grand Junction Police Department contacted an adult male in the 2700 Block of G Road after receiving information from a reporting party that the male may be involved in the death investigation from yesterday, February 6th, 2020. More information about that incident can be found here. The male has been detained and transported to the Grand Junction Police Department, where the investigation will continue.

At this time, this male has been detained and not formally arrested or charged, therefore we will not be releasing his name or identifying information. No further information is available at this time. We will provide updates as they become available.

We’ve received a flood of tips and information from the community in an effort to assist with this investigation. We are so gratified by the response of our community, who have clearly demonstrated that they are invested in the safety of our City and have shown strong support for the efforts of law enforcement.  We are thankful for the cooperation of everyone who has called in, and we are humbled by your support.