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Teller County Sheriff on escape: Several steps were missed

Sheriff Mikesell tells only News 5 how dangerous inmate escaped
Dianne Derby talks with Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell
Posted at 9:04 PM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 23:26:50-04

DIVIDE — An inmate so dangerous he was supposed to be in prison for more than three decades. Chancey Colwell was just sentenced on August 9, 2021, for shooting at Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell's deputies. He opened fire during a chase through Fremont and Teller counties.

"It was a pretty bad harrowing experience for all of those officers," Mikesell said.

The very man who fired on them, now locked up in their jail until he could be transferred to a Department of Corrections prison. Four days later, on August 6th, he escaped at 3 a.m. as he cleaned the front lobby of the jail. An unarmed deputy was only a few steps away.

"He was allowed to clean some rugs," Mikesell said. "That gave him the opportunity to run on us."

The Sheriff told News 5's Dianne Derby that Colwell walked out of a locked door, with a deputy, into the main lobby of the jail to do his cleaning duty. At some point, he ran right out the unlocked lobby door.

"He was afforded the opportunity to run and, unfortunately, he was fast enough the deputy couldn't keep up with him," said Mikesell.

Four days later, on August 10th, Colwell was back in custody and back in the Teller County jail.

"We know he ended up in Canon City, we believe he went toward our Meadowood Park," said Mikesell.

Mikesell doesn't know what happened next. No one may ever know that answer. But what he does know is, ultimately, the blame falls on him.

"There were several steps that were missed," said Mikesell. "Although they were small steps that were missed, it's a big deal."

News 5's Dianne Derby asked Mikesell why his department would let an inmate who once shot at his deputies help clean the jail.

Mikesell replied, "That's one of our questions. Under our normal policies, we don't allow that. This somehow slipped through a crack or a crack in the system we have."

What about the deputy who was there when Colwell ran? The Sheriff said that the deputy has been in the department for less than a year. He told News 5 he's still on the job.

"He's a great deputy, I think he's an up-and-comer," said Mikesell. "Whose fault it? Really, it's mine....I think we have to give people a lot of grace when they make a mistake. I think our whole world right now is we have to come down hard on people when they make a mistake and I don't think so. I think he learned something he'll never have happen to him again."

Meanwhile, Mikesell said Chancey Colwell is no longer allowed out of his cell without chains on his legs.

The Sheriff said the last time someone escaped from the Teller County jail was 18 years ago.