GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — Western Slope Now is uncovering new details surrounding a dangerous shooting in Grand Junction on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.
The arrest affidavit for suspect Michael C. Viegas from the Grand Junction Police Department (GJPD) shows GJPD Officer Dressel first radioed in that a bullet ricochet landed directly in front of his patrol vehicle. He proceeded to take cover near Officer McBride’s vehicle. Officer Dressel later gave a statement to Detective Rojo, telling him he feared for his life and the lives of other citizens when he heard that gunshot.
Officers and deputies in armored vehicles soon moved in closer than the regular patrol vehicles. Those units soon confirmed reports of a suspicious man on the east side of 959 Northern Way. From inside an armored vehicle, GJPD Detective Boyer was able to clearly see a man on the patio of apartment 12, holding a rifle with a metal rail and a scope. Detective boyer reported the man was facing the direction of three to four officers in fully marked GJPD uniforms. Detective Boyer believed the officers were in imminent danger of being shot by the suspect.
When the suspect reportedly saw police in the armored vehicle, the affidavit shows he retreated into apartment 12 before firing additional rounds from his rifle.
The suspect reportedly exited the apartment soon after with nothing in his hands but he refused to comply with law enforcement’s verbal commands. Deputy Sergeant Christensen reportedly detailed several updates about the suspect’s movements; his hands were up but he wasn’t listening, and he appeared to be in an altered state of mind. Per personnel on scene, the man’s demeanor escalated but he was no longer holding the rifle or any weapon.
Police quickly subdued the uncooperative man using several less lethal options, including a taser and 40mm foam rounds. The suspect was later identified as Michael C. Viegas.
A search warrant was signed and executed for the apartment. Inside, law enforcement found at least 27 used bullet shells in and around the front door of the unit. Just inside the doorway was a .308 rifle with a large scope. .308 ammunition was also found just inside the front door though the affidavit did not specify how much ammunition.
The affidavit shows alcoholic beverages in various stages of fullness littered the apartment including Twisted Tea, Jim Beam, Bud Light, Smirnoff, Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels mixed beverages, and Sailor Jerry.
Officers also found holes in various vehicles in the area and confirmed they were consistent with bullet holes on a Kia Telluride, a FedEx truck, and a Hyundai Kona.
Amber Urrutia, a FedEx truck driver gave a statement to Detective Kopp regarding the incident. In it, Urrutia said she parked her vehicle and was walking to deliver her package to apartment #8 when she heard a gunshot. The bullet struck the tire directly next to her. After she showed Detective Kopp where the vehicle was parked, Detective Kopp determined the truck was approximately 30 feet from the shooter’s location.
The affidavit later details more about the span of time officer McBride had Viegas in the back of his marked patrol vehicle. Per Officer McBride, he could smell an alcoholic beverage on Viegas’ breath and Officer McBride described Viegas’ behavior as “acting drunk”, which aligned with Viegas telling police he’d consumed whiskey. According to Officer McBride, he never asked Viegas any questions, Viegas was just chatty.
Detective Rojo and Detective Boyer responded to Community Hospital where they read Viegas his rights per Miranda. Viegas said he understood and was willing to talk. Viegas told detectives it was his one day off, he was drinking whiskey and beer, he woke up around 11 a.m. and went outside a few times to vape. Viegas added that he went out to bore sight his .308 rifle, saying that was when he saw police. He then claimed he didn’t shoot the gun. Viegas said he pointed the rifle at a light in the parking lot.
Based on the evidence listed in the affidavit, the GJPD believes there is probable cause to charge the defendant with:
- Attempted first-degree murder, for knowingly engaging in conduct that created a grave risk of death to persons other than himself under circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, for discharging a rifle in the direction of other apartments, vehicles, and a busy thoroughfare, and shooting one of the rounds at Amber Urrutia, hitting the tire next to her; and
- Criminal Attempt
- Attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, for firing a rifle directly at a marked police vehicle, striking the ground in front of the vehicle, striking the ground in front of the vehicle driven by Officer Dressel, who was fully dressed in his GJPD-issued uniform, while engaging in the performance of his duties (responding to a call of shots fired); and
- Criminal Attempt
- Assault in the first degree, three counts, with intent to cause serious bodily injury by pointing a deadly weapon (rifle, outfitted with a scope) directly at three police officers (Officers Dearborn, Holtz and Dressel), in full GJPD uniforms, engaged in the performance of their duties (responding to the call of shots fired); and
- Criminal Attempt
- Criminal mischief, cumulative value of $2000 to $5000 for damaging the rim and tire of a FedEx tire, damaging the white Hyundai Kona (front driver side rim and rear passenger door), and damaging the grey Kia Telluride (front passenger door); and
- Prohibited use of weapons, 25 counts, for recklessly discharging a firearm over two dozen times, in the direction of other apartments, vehicles, and a busy thoroughfare, while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage; and
- Reckless endangerment, for recklessly engaging in conduct that created a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person by shooting at least one round across Patterson Road, a busy thoroughfare, just after noon on a workday; and
- Resisting Arrest, for knowingly preventing a peace officer, acting under official capacity, from effecting an arrest by walking away, refusing to comply with verbal commands, a taser deployment, and use of a 40mm less lethal foam rounds, continuing to run away from police, and attempting to re-enter his apartment.