Colorado State trooper shot in Glenwood Canyon, suspect dead
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon became a crime scene Thursday morning after a Colorado State Patrol trooper was shot and a suspect was subsequently killed by another officer.
Trooper Eugene Hofacker, 31, was carpooling to a training exercise with another trooper out of the State Patrol’s Vail/Avon post. At 9:10 a.m. the pair observed a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of I-70 westbound near mile marker 129, just before Bair Ranch at the east end of Glenwood Canyon. Hofacker reportedly approached the car on the driver’s side and the driver shot him, Vallario said. The second trooper returned fire and killed the suspect, who was the only occupant in the car, the sheriff said.
Several troopers in the area were also on their way to the training and were able to administer first aid within moments and secure the scene, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. Hofacker was taken by ambulance to Valley View Hospital, and he was reported to be in and out of consciousness and had lost a lot of blood, authorities said. He underwent surgery and was listed as in critical but stable condition Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, I-70 was shut down from the Wolcott exit to Glenwood Springs. Eastbound lanes were intermittently open and closed throughout the day as emergency vehicles and police maneuvered. Westbound lanes remained closed most of the day while police secured the crime scene and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation collected evidence.
Colorado Department of Transportation crews and the Colorado State Patrol worked to clear vehicles out of the canyon while Eagle County sheriff’s deputies worked to keep traffic off of the Cottonwood Pass road. Westbound traffic was rerouted through Wolcott northbound over state Highway 131 and then westbound on U.S. Highway 40 through Steamboat Springs.
“We have a crime scene literally in the middle of the highway,” Vallario said. “A state trooper was shot, and the investigation will take time. We hope motorists understand that.”
Around 4 p.m., the suspect’s body was transported to the Garfield County Coroner’s Office, and his vehicle was towed to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Annex pending a search warrant. At 5:15 p.m. the line of westbound traffic was allowed into the canyon and normal traffic resumed in both directions.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario declined to identify the suspect at a news conference Thursday afternoon, but he said that, based on secondhand information he had received, “he probably has an extensive violent criminal history.”
Vallario had few additional details on the ongoing investigation but confirmed that the suspect was the sole occupant of the vehicle.
“It was an isolated incident. We have no other suspects to deal with,” he said. “I don’t know how many shots were fired or what caliber was used.”
Colorado State Patrol Chief Scott Hernandez spoke to the luck of having two patrolmen in one vehicle, an uncommon occurrence.
“I believe it was life-saving,” he said. According to Hernandez, Hofacker was wearing body armor. Hernandez said the State Patrol will conduct an internal investigation of the incident.
“We’re going to look at it as a shooting and really review the (trooper’s actions),” he said.
Meanwhile, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office will continue its own criminal investigation.
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