Earlier this month, Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper shared some thoughts with employees of the City in an internal newsletter. It seems timely to share his sentiment with a larger audience, as an acknowledgement of the spirit unity that has revealed itself in our community after the passing of Deputy Geer and, now, Delaney. As an agency, we’re grateful for Chief Camper’s thoughtful words, and thought others may benefit from them, too.
Communities can be like extended families. Their members don’t always get along. They may squabble or disagree. There are some whose company we enjoy, and others who we go to great lengths to avoid. Weddings and holidays can be occasions for joy or dread, depending on the particular guest list. But when tragedy strikes, families…and communities…set aside their differences, overlook each other’s annoyances, and embrace in their shared sense of loss and grief.
Our community is no exception, and though we may occasionally and bitterly disagree about issues, politics, or priorities, we come together in support of our members who are gamely trying to overcome challenges, or facing losses so crushing that we can’t help but make them our own.
The senseless death of Deputy Geer was one such loss. Whether we knew him personally, or not at all, he belonged to all of us. He represented our sense of safety and goodness. He was a critical steel beam supporting the solid structure that is our community. And when that structure is compromised, we come together as a family to support one another and share in the work it takes to shore up the structure. This community clearly did that, and I for one could not be more proud.
As a part of the miles-long procession honoring Deputy Geer’s life and sacrifice, I was rendered speechless by the community show of support for him, his family, and the profession of law enforcement. Thousands of our ‘family’ members lined the streets, in salute or with hands to their hearts. Others simply stood weeping, or supporting children holding colorful and carefully-handcrafted signs of support.
Many of you shared in that tribute, or found other ways throughout the recent weeks to offer support. Whether you helped light-up our community in blue, donated to a fund, or came out to support the epic Broomball benefit, every contribution mattered. And every contribution began the long process of shoring up our shaken structure.
On a crisp blue day this last December I went up to the airport to stoke the flying hobby that helps clear my head, while draining my wallet of any residual funds. Parked at West Star Aviation was a gleaming Falcon 900 private jet, considerably more luxurious than the aging two-seater Cessna I was about to occupy. Now I wouldn’t be able to come up with the name of a Taylor Swift song even if you offered me money, but I do know a little about airplanes, and I suspected that the owner of that impressive ride with an “N” number ending in “TS” was about to make a little girl’s dream come true.
That little girl, of course, is Delaney Clements, and this community has embraced her and her family in the same loving way that they have embraced the family of Deputy Geer. We’ve made her our own, through pink fire trucks, fundraisers, candlelight vigils, or digital campaigns to encourage a kind-hearted pop star to drop into town. In short, we’ve done what families do when day-to-day squabbles and disagreements are rendered trivial by the unfair challenges being faced by a little girl and her family, or the crushing grief heaped upon the family of one of “our” deputies.
And sometimes, as we may do during the noisy and occasionally contentious family holiday party, we have to step back, take a quiet look around, and offer grateful thanks for this family that we call “community.” ~Chief John Camper
Shortly before 8:00am on Thursday morning, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to the 3000 Block of North 14th Street on a report of a three year old female that was not conscious and not breathing. Officers, along with paramedics with the Grand Junction Fire Department, arrived on scene and found the child to be deceased. The victim in this case has been identified as Bethannie Johnson. The Mesa County Coroner’s Office release is attached.
After hours of interviews and investigation, Shanna Gossett, 29, was arrested on charges of Child Abuse Resulting in Death (F2), Murder in the First Degree (F1), Second Degree Kidnapping (F2), and False Imprisonment (F5). Gossett is Bethannie’s aunt, and legal guardian.
The investigation into this case remains active and ongoing. Our hearts are heavy for those that loved Bethannie.
On Wednesday, at approximately 5:00pm, the Grand Junction Police Department received information that a person of interest in a homicide investigation out of Adams County was in the Grand Junction area.
A records search revealed an active warrant out of Adams County for Aaron Gallegos, 29, for attempted murder. Officers continued to gather information, eventually determining that Gallegos may be at a residence in the 300 Block of Belford Avenue.
Officers with the Grand Junction Police Department Street Crimes Unit and the Western Colorado Drug Task Force, as well as the Grand Junction Police and Mesa County Sheriff SWAT units, set up in the area. A search warrant was requested for the residence, and was signed by a judge shortly after 10:00pm. A community notification was sent out for residents in the area to shelter in place. After setting up a perimeter around the house, a loud speaker page was aired, providing commands to occupants of the address. Aaron Gallegos exited the residence as instructed, and was taken into custody without incident at 11:24pm. An additional subject was also detained, but was later released without charges.
Gallegos is being held in the Mesa County Jail, pending transport back to Adams County. The booking photo is not available for release at this time.
Our Community Resource Unit is always looking for opportunities to partner with the public to make our neighborhoods and businesses safer. As part of our Safe Community Programs initiative, the Grand Junction Police Department will be offering a Safe Bars presentation on, Monday, March 28, from 12:00 to 5:00, at the Grand Junction Police Department.
The Safe Bars program is a simple, effective way to reduce police calls for service at local bars and nightclubs, benefitting not only patrons and staff, but also nearby residents. The program is geared toward owners of liquor venues, as well as managers and any other staff that have a vested interest in the quality of their establishment.
During this half day training, we’ll concentrate on topics like crime prevention and security, liquor license laws and City ordinances, and drug recognition.
Attendees will learn about the benefits of participation in the program, including receiving a free weekly report of calls for service on your property. Your compliance with the program also allows us to list your business on our City website, for visitors seeking safe locations to enjoy themselves during their stay in Grand Junction, as well as the option for you to use the program’s logo on your own marketing materials. You will also have a direct point of contact with an officer that knows you and your property, so we can better serve you. Don’t miss out!
We want to share a common goal with business owners and staff, to create a safer, more enjoyable experience for residents and visitors to our area that want to have a good time at one of our local pubs. We hope you’ll join us, and share this information with anyone you know that might be interested.
To register for this free program, please call or email Officer David Keech, at (970)549-5336, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last night, shortly before 7:00pm, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of a robbery that had just occurred at First National Pawn, located at 2892 North Avenue, Unit B.
Witnesses stated that a male subject entered the store and requested to see a handgun that was in a display case. An employee removed the gun from the case, checked it to ensure it wasn’t loaded, and then placed the gun on the counter. The male subject quickly grabbed the gun and ran from the store. Employees chased the male, yelling for him to stop and return the gun. The male attempted to strike store employees with the gun, making contact at least once and striking one employee in the head. Eventually, after a short pursuit and struggle, employees were able to detain the suspect briefly, before another male began approaching them with what appeared to be a baton and a taser in his hands. The employees feared for their safety and let the male suspect go. At that point, both suspects got in a black sedan and fled the area. Store employees were able to recover the gun.
In this timeframe, an officer located a car matching the description of the suspect vehicle in the area. The officer observed the vehicle park at a nearby bar, and saw two males exit the vehicle and enter the business through the front doors. Other units arrived on scene and a perimeter was established around the building. Soon after, both males were seen exiting the rear doors of the bar and running from the address. Within minutes, after a short foot pursuit, both males were placed into custody. They were identified as Sean Willis, 24, and Levi VanPelt, 34.
A search of Willis and VanPelt, as well as their vehicle, resulted in the recovery of a firearm, a baton, and a taser. Officers also found a schedule III controlled substance, for which no prescription could be provided, as well as a small container of a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. A criminal history was conducted on both males and revealed that both are previous offenders, and are not allowed to own or possess firearms.
VanPelt was arrested for Aggravated Robbery (F3), Felony Menacing (F5), Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance (DF4), Possession of a Schedule III Controlled Substance (DM1), Possession of Weapons by a Previous Offender (F6), Display of Plates Not Assigned/Unregistered Vehicle, Obstructing Police (M2), Complicity (F3), and Use of a Stun Gun (F5).
Willis was arrested for Aggravated Robbery (F3), Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender (F6), Assault in the Second Degree (F4), Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance (DF4), Criminal Mischief (M2), Theft (M3), and Obstructing Police (M2).
A current booking photo of Willis is not available at this time.
This week Crime Stoppers of Mesa County is requesting information that will lead to the identification of the suspects that wrote checks from a closed account.
At approximately 4:05 pm on Thursday, January 14th, a newer model white SUV with dark tinted windows pulled up to the City Market gas pumps located at 630 24 Road. A white male subject, approximately 25-45 years of age with dark hair, a dark mustache and goatee, wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket over a bright blue shirt paid for the gas with the bad check. The other male subject pumped the gas. The surveillance photo of the vehicle and the suspect that wrote the check can be viewed at http://www.241STOP.com.
If you know the identity of the subjects involved in this crime, please contact Crime Stoppers at 241-7867. Information reported to Crime Stoppers that leads to an arrest can earn you up to $1,000 cash reward and you will remain completely anonymous. For more information, see us at http://www.241stop.com
Shortly before 8:00am, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department responded to the area of S. 1st Street and Pitkin Avenue, on a report of a motor vehicle accident.
Investigation revealed that a passenger car, driven by an adult female, was traveling eastbound on Pitkin, and attempted a left turn from the center lane. The vehicle turned in front of another driver, resulting in a collision that caused the passenger vehicle to spin 180 degrees. The driver of the passenger car ended up traveling westbound on Pitkin, ultimately colliding with the concrete barriers. The driver suffered multiple injuries and had to be extricated from the vehicle by rescue workers. The driver was transported to the hospital, where she later died as a result of her injuries.
The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident remains open and active. The Mesa County Coroner will be responbsible for releasing the identity of the driver.