Basalt police say man launched ethnic attack

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Jerry L. Cunico
Eagle County Jail |

An Old Snowmass man was charged Friday with three felonies after he allegedly launched an unprovoked attack against a man sitting in his car in a Basalt parking lot in what police said was a case of ethnic intimidation.

Jerry Lloyd Cunico, 47, allegedly opened the car door of the victim and started beating him, according to the Basalt Police Department report. Police were called to the parking lot at Orchard Plaza, the commercial area around the El Jebel City Market, at 8:17 p.m. on Aug. 23. The officers found one adult male being detained by several witnesses, the report said.

“The male that was being detained assaulted a Hispanic male who was sitting in his vehicle scratching off lottery tickets,” the report said.

The victim was struck several times in the face and suffered fractures to facial bones, the report said. The assailant allegedly was yelling obscenities about President Obama and saying that “Mexicans” should go home, according to the report.

Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said the investigation failed to show any link between the suspect and the victim. Police believe Cunico randomly selected the victim without provocation, Knott said.

Cunico was arrested for second-degree assault and “ethnic intimidation,” both felonies, according to the police report. He allegedly threatened the arresting officers while he was being driven to Eagle for booking in the jail. Cunico was not intoxicated when he was arrested, Knott said.

Cunico was advised of the charges against him Aug. 24, the charges were amended Aug. 28, according to the court clerk’s office. He was charged with three felonies: Trespass 1, automobile, with intent to commit a crime; second-degree assault; and bias-motivated crime to cause bodily injury.

“I haven’t experienced this kind of crime since I started here,” said Knott, who became Basalt’s police chief in 2013.

Cunico is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 15 on a preliminary demand hearing.