Armed man arrested after hostage situation outside of Aspen |

Armed man arrested after hostage situation outside of Aspen

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times
Pitkin County Sheriff's deputies interview Rob Kurk, of Glenwood Springs, and his friend, Patrick Murphy, of Montrose, after they witnessed a man point a handgun toward the occupants of a car on Lincoln Creek Road, off Independence Pass outside of Aspen.
Jason Auslander/The Aspen Times |

An armed man took at least one person hostage Wednesday evening near a popular camping area off Independence Pass before sheriff’s deputies were able to arrest him.

No one was injured during the situation near the intersection of Lincoln Creek Road and Highway 82, though the man, identified by police as Brolin McConnell, 30, of Colorado Springs, threatened to kill people and fired shots from a handgun “in the direction” of Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies, said Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan.

“This was a big deal,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. “This nation is learning that cops run to danger. This is what cops do and it is a big deal.”

Two Pitkin County deputies were able to peacefully resolve the situation, though details of how exactly that occurred were not available Wednesday night.

It also was unclear Wednesday night how many people were taken hostage by the man. Radio reports and initial information from law enforcement indicated just one person was held hostage. However, DiSalvo said he visited the scene and saw a group of people he estimated to be in their 20s who appeared to have been involved in the situation.

“They looked very, very frightened,” DiSalvo said.

The man, who was armed with two handguns, was taken into custody at about 6 p.m. and transported to the Pitkin County Jail, according to emergency radio transmissions.

Rob Kurk, a Glenwood Springs resident, told The Aspen Times on Wednesday night that he and a friend had just turned on to Lincoln Creek Road from Highway 82, crossed the bridge and had gone about 200 yards down the road when they saw a four-door pickup truck blocking the road.

“It looked a little odd,” he said.

Kurk and his friend were about 100 feet away from the pickup when another car approached from the opposite direction, he said. The approaching car provoked the man in the truck blocking the road to react, Kurk said.

“He immediately jumped out (of the truck), pulled a black handgun and pointed it at the occupants of the vehicle,” Kurk said. “With the gun still pointed at them, he said (to us), ‘Back away or I’m going to kill them.’”

Kurk and his friend did as they were told, then drove back down Highway 82 toward Aspen.

“We thought it best to get out of there and call police,” he said.

Kurk said the man appeared to know the occupants of the car he stopped because another car passed by him just before that car arrived, and the man made no move to stop them. He described the man as about 30 years old of medium height and medium build.

Emergency dispatchers first received a call — probably from Kurk — at about 5:15 p.m., reporting a man with a gun was threatening people, Undersheriff Ryan said. The two deputies arrived on the scene about an eighth of a mile down Lincoln Creek Road soon after, he said.

The deputies contacted the armed man, who was holding at least one hostage and threatening to kill people, Ryan said. The deputies were able to talk with the man, though some shots were fired “in the direction” of the two deputies, he said. Radio reports indicated the shots may have been fired into the ground.

After about 40 minutes, the deputies were able to arrest the man, Ryan said.

Both Ryan and DiSalvo commended the response from most law enforcement agencies in the valley, including Aspen police, the Garfield County SWAT Team, Basalt police, the Colorado State Patrol, Snowmass Village police and the area’s U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer.

“The response was amazing,” DiSalvo said. “The fact that it ended peacefully removes all the stress from the situation.”