COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The El Paso County Sheriff's announced the arrests of three additional suspects on Wednesday in connection with a murder investigation from over the summer. The body of the victim, Manuel Hernandez-Uribe, was found along Old Stage Road in mid-June.
The crime is the second homicide of the year where the victim was found along Old Stage Road. Local officials are now looking for ways to improve public safety in the area.
"Because of the public safety challenges here on Old Stage Road, the public agencies in this area are considering options on what to do to address that," explained Stan VanderWerf, Chair of the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners.
The City of Colorado Springs held a public meeting in early October to gather feedback and discuss options to improve safety in the area. City Traffic Engineer Todd Frisbie said one idea is to install a time-activated gate.
"Most of the day, it would be open," Frisbee said. "It would be closed at some period late in the evening, then reopen early in the morning."
Max Hobbs, an off-road enthusiast drives on Old Stage Road regularly. He's part of a group that takes trips together on the more adventurous trails in the area.
"There are some really cool spots you can get to, and you can see all of the Collegiate Peaks out in Buena Vista," he said. "I mean you can see a lot. It's beautiful."
Hobbs dislikes the gate idea. He says many off-roaders equip their rigs with lights to explore after dark.
"We're concerned about when the gate is actually going to be activated from, the hours that they're considering," he said. "You know, getting stuck up on the mountain and not being able to get down after those times."
Frisbie explained the gate would operate in a way that lets vehicles leave, but restricts traffic from coming in after dark. Other options discussed at the public meeting include increasing law enforcement patrols, posting signs, or taking no action.
"What I see the city's role in this is we're a facilitator," Frisbie said. "We've been put in this role and that's to bring all the parties together and come up with the best solution."
Hobbs thinks the illegal shooting needs to be addressed first and wants to see an increased law enforcement presence.
"I encounter a lot of people in the community that don't know what's going on that have lived here for a long time, whether they've used the road or not, they do have somewhat of an interest in keeping Colorado's nature open and available," Hobbs said.
Commissioner VanderWerf explained that any changes here will move slowly because of the complexity involved. The US Forest Service is responsible for much of the land around the road. The city maintains the road up to the point where the pavement ends. Deputies from both the El Paso and Teller County Sheriff's Offices patrol the dirt road.
"You've got city jurisdiction, county jurisdiction, you've got forest service, you also have Teller County jurisdiction, and that makes it a little more challenging," he said
As the public process plays out, Hobbs indicated there is broad support to improve the beauty and the public image of the road.
"That's what we want to try to change is getting away from that because it does have a lot of negative connotations associated with it."
The city is still accepting feedback through an online survey. They plan to communicate this feedback at a later date.
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