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Family plans to sue Pueblo Police after loved one killed in drive-by shooting

Posted at 10:25 AM, Jun 21, 2024

PUEBLO — A Pueblo family is planning to sue the Pueblo Police Department after their loved one was killed in a drive-by shooting on the east side of the city Monday afternoon.

Pueblo Police said officers responded to East 7th Street for a reported shooting just after 12:30 p.m. and said the disturbance involved several traveling vehicles. The Pueblo County Coroner said 28-year-old Sadie Hlavaty-Pagel was found dead in a vehicle a few blocks away in a car wash parking lot on North Erie Avenue.

Sadie Pagel
Sadie Pagel was found dead in her vehicle on the east side of Pueblo after a reported drive-by shooting Monday afternoon.
Sadie Pagel
Sadie Pagel's husband said they had three children together.

About two hours later, police said officers arrested 20-year-old Ruben Arturo Velez for first-degree murder in the shooting. Police said they found him driving a stolen vehicle on the south side of the city and took him into custody after a short police chase.

Demetrius Hood, Pagel's husband, said everything started when the couple noticed their car was stolen from their driveway on Father's Day morning. Hood said he called police and reported the vehicle as stolen. He said the next day, he spotted their vehicle near a local convenience store. Court documents said Hood called police three times to report the location of the stolen car as it moved between a 7/11 convenience store, a Dollar General, and a car wash.

Pagel's husband said he and his wife met up in separate cars and began following the stolen car. Court documents said Hood told police a red SUV began following them and started shooting at his wife's vehicle. Police said Pagel was shot and she crashed her car into a coin machine in the parking lot of the car wash on North Erie Avenue.

Arrest documents said Velez was the driver of the red SUV. Police said they found a gun in his car and Pagel's driver's license was in his pocket when they arrested him. Court documents said Velez's mother was driving the stolen vehicle belonging to the Pagel family.

"I felt like this could all have been prevented if they [police] had just responded to the first three times I had called about my vehicle," said Hood.

Pagel's husband said police told him they would send a unit when they could each time he called 911 about the stolen car. He said vehicle theft calls should be placed as a higher priority moving forward.

"When someone calls and reports a stolen vehicle, especially if there's someone driving it, you should send a unit immediately, because you could prevent so much from happening," said Hood.

Pueblo Police said calls for stolen vehicles are listed as priority five calls but are moved up to priority four if the theft is happening at that moment. A spokesperson for the department said priority seven is the lowest priority call. When asked why police did not respond to Hood's initial calls, a spokesperson for the department said they could not comment on the active investigation.

"At this point no matter what I call the cops for I might as well just say someone was killed," said Rally Pagel, the victim's brother. "It seems like right now, the only way to get any attention by a cop in time is to only say the worst."

Pagel's family is calling for changes within the police department's call priority system as reports for stolen vehicles continue to increase in Pueblo.

Pueblo stolen vehicle reports
Data from Pueblo Police show a 136% increase in stolen vehicle reports from 2019 to 2023.

Data from Pueblo Police show a 136% increase in stolen vehicle reports from 2019 to 2023. The number of reports increased from 834 reports in 2019 to 1,936 reports in 2023. So far this year, police said there have been 648 reports made about stolen vehicles in the city.

"They need to take these cars thefts way more serious. They're leading to deaths which can be prevented when someone calls and reports a stolen vehicle," said Hood.

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