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Publish Date: 10/24/2005

People are led from a home on Dexter Drive by Longmont SWAT team members during a search for an armed man involved in an accident on 23rd Avenue and Collyer Street on Sunday. Times-Call/Lewis Geyer

Armed man flees police
Injured man on the loose, wanted on multiple violations stemming from two-car collision

LONGMONT — Police are seeking an armed and injured man who pulled a gun on a Colorado State Patrol trooper and fled the scene of an accident that severely injured a local couple around 5 p.m. Sunday.

The man was seen running from the accident scene at 23rd Avenue and Collyer Street into a home less than a block away at 2288 Dexter Dr., where officers believed he had holed up.

However, when the SWAT team entered the house — on a cul-de-sac that juts east from Collyer Street between 21st and 23rd avenues — about two hours later, a search of the interior, back yard and shed turned up smears of blood but no suspect.

“What we believe the suspect did was run through the home and got through there before the perimeter was set up,” said Cmdr. Craig Earhart of the Longmont Police Department.

The man is believed to be a 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound white man with a shaved head, about 30 to 35 years old. He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans.

Earhart said it seems the man was not restrained in a truck that was rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and he apparently hit his head on the windshield.

He said the man is wanted on suspicion of a series of traffic and weapons violations. Earhart also said an initial search of the truck turned up methamphetamine.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Eric Wynn said a trooper was following the man’s maroon Chevrolet Silverado truck because of a traffic violation.

Earhart said the trooper followed the man southbound on Collyer Street from Colo. Highway 66 without lights or sirens. The truck ran the stop sign at 23rd Avenue and struck the maroon Hyundai, which was traveling east on 23rd. Earhart said the trooper estimated the truck was traveling 60 mph.

A Longmont couple and their dog in the Hyundai were all injured. Earhart said the man was airlifted from Longmont United Hospital to Denver Health. The woman was in serious condition at Longmont United Hospital. The dog was taken to Animal Emergency Care Center.

Earhart wouldn’t identify the couple because family was still being notified but said they have four children. None of the kids were in the car.

Witnesses said the trooper struggled briefly with the suspect immediately after the accident and took a semi-automatic weapon from him.

But the suspect had another gun, forced his way past the trooper and ran south on Collyer Street.

Neighbors who gathered when they heard the accident saw the man flee.

Mike Babler said he was trying to aid the victims in the car when he heard the trooper scream “stop, stop, stop.”

“I ran out to try to grab him to help the state patrol,” Babler said.

That was when he heard the man had a gun and the suspect slipped from his grasp.

“I didn’t see it,” he said of the gun. “Then I went back to helping the people injured in the vehicle.”

The trooper suffered a minor hand injury in the struggle.

Another neighbor, who asked that she be identified only as Janice, said she saw the man flee while watching from a nearby apartment window.

She said as he ran down Collyer, he pulled a gun from his waistband.

The man ran into the Dexter Drive house. Police believed that he was hiding inside, set up a perimeter and called in the Longmont SWAT team.

The SWAT team surrounded the area, and police used reverse-911 to warn immediate neighbors to stay inside. Dozens of residents gathered around the police perimeter to watch the evening’s drama unfold.

A man, later identified as a resident of the home, came out of the home at about 6 p.m. with his hands over his head.

“That’s not him,” Janice said.

About 20 minutes later, a group of SWAT team members led four people from the home, including a woman, a toddler and two handicapped boys.

A phone number to the home is registered to Ignacio Rodriguez.

One boy began to cry as paramedics checked him over and lifted him from his wheelchair into an ambulance.

The SWAT team entered the home when the family was evacuated and searched through rooms, the attic, the garage, the back yard and a shed with the help of a police dog. The man was not found.

Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273, or by e-mail at pshields@times-call.com.

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