Colorado had its share of hard times in 2019. From tragedies to heated moments in our communities. News5 is taking a look back at the year's notable crimes.
2019 will be marked as a tough time for the Pueblo Police Department as officers were involved in six different shootings. All of the incidents had an impact on the department, none more than the April incident that left Officer Jonathan Bell with six gunshot wounds to his legs during a shootout with parolee Michael Hensley.
As our Colette Bordelon reports, Bell's recovery from the significant wounds continues. Click here to read more. Department leaders admitted all of the incidents created a challenge in terms of staffing as multiple officers were involved in the shootings.
One police shooting in particular had a much larger impact for Colorado Springs as the community debated the August death of De'Von Bailey as two officers were checking out a report of a robbery. Bailey was shot and killed while running away from officers. The grand jury did find the officers were legally justified in the shooting, however, community members and the family remain upset Bailey was shot in the back. Family attorneys have vowed to continue pursuing other legal avenues after their call for an independent investigation.
In June, dozens gathered for a vigil in Pueblo after an unthinkable tragedy where Jesse Garcia was dragged to death while trying to stop a car thief on the city's east side. According to police, Garcia was seriously injured after being dragged for several blocks and falling to the pavement. His serious injuries eventually lead to his death. The suspect, Anthony Finley, is charged with first degree murder.
Colorado made national headlines after another school shooting in our state, this time at STEM School in Highlands Ranch. The only student killed in the shooting, Kendrick Castillo, was set to graduate in a matter of days before the shooting happened. He was the only person killed in the shooting. Fellow students said he jumped out of his seat when he heard gunfire and rushed the two suspects. Both are awaiting trial as adults. Read more
A story from late 2018 made headlines all year long as prosecutors pursued their case for first degree murder against Patrick Frazee for the death of his ex-fiancee Kesley Berreth in Woodland Park. Investigators never found her body, but "made a deal with the devil" to piece together what happened. With the testimony of Krystal Kenney, Frazee's ex, they were able to secure a life sentence without parole in the case. Kenney is awaiting sentencing in January for tampering with evidence. Read more
Pueblo was horrified to learn a woman's dismembered body was found in a dumpster outside a car wash in late October. It was tips from the public based on surveillance video of the body being dumped that led officers to arrest Anthony Cuevas for the killing of his own mother. His case is expected to head to court in 2020.
There were also crimes that put communities on edge.
In Pueblo, the animal shelter went through a couple of leadership changes as elected officials granted control to PAWS for Life based on a community outcry for a no-kill shelter. Months later there was an investigation by the state into allegations of animal cruelty against the veterinarian and the former manager of the facility. As a result, the city and county agreed to return control of the facility to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. Read more
Also in Pueblo, a white supremacist was arrested by local and federal authorities in an alleged plot to blow up Temple Emanuel. “He also explained that the attack on the Synagogue would be ‘phase two’ and that ‘phase three’ would be outside of Pueblo and ‘bigger and better,’” the federal complaint states. Richard Holzer is being held in a federal detention center in Denver awaiting trial.
Families in Colorado Springs were shocked and upset to learn the woman who was caring for their children was doing so in violation of her license. Colorado Springs Police were assisting a state worker when they discovered a false wall at Play Mountain Place on Willamette Avenue following multiple complaints from parents about the operation.
Investigators say the license allowed for 6 children, but they found 26 sweaty children with dirty diapers in the basement. Court records show 58-year-old Carla Faith, 31-year-old Katelynne Nelson, 35-year-old Christina Swauger, and 24-year-old Valerie Fresquez are facing 26 counts of misdemeanor child abuse for each child found in the facility. Read more