Eagle Co. sheriff OK with hunting party

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

EL JEBEL ” An Eagle County Sheriff’s Office investigation into complaints of gunfire in El Jebel has found that no laws were violated by a hunting party.

But Sheriff Joe Hoy said Wednesday that his office still is looking into whether any county regulations might apply. The complainant, meanwhile, said he will continue to press the matter.

“I’m not going to let this go,” declared El Jebel landowner Wayne Ewing.

Ewing, a documentary filmmaker who lives on Valley Road in El Jebel, a short distance downvalley from the Crown Mountain Park, called the sheriff’s office on the morning of Sept. 30 to report hearing gunfire near his home. He said a hunting party, led by his neighbor, Jason Killebrew, was firing shotguns somewhere on Killebrew’s land, which sits alongside the Roaring Fork River, and that Ewing and several guests were worried for their safety.

Ewing said his house has been hit in the past by what he believes were shotgun pellets, when hunters visited Killebrew’s property. He said he was irate at what he termed being “pinned down by gunfire” between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Ewing also accused Killebrew of illegally shooting a fox that was found on Ewing’s property Sunday morning, bleeding and dying from pellet wounds. There are two seasons in Colorado, according to the state wildlife division’s website. Regular fox season began Oct. 1; red-fox season begins Nov. 1. Ewing believes the dead animal was a red fox, but that has yet to be determined.

Eagle County Deputy Melissa Langford, who spoke to Ewing via telephone, but did not visit his home, concluded that Killebrew and his party were outside the 150-yard limit from Ewing’s house, and that they did not violate state regulations. Her report was supported by her supervisor, Sgt. Alex Iacovetto, and Hoy.

State wildlife officer Kelly Wood, who was called into the case by Langford, is investigating the fox shooting. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Killebrew, contacted Tuesday, maintained that he and his hunting party, who were shooting on private property, were at least 250 yards from Ewing’s home, and that they did not break any laws.

Hoy, who at first was not aware of the details of the case, said he checked with his deputies and that as far as he can tell no crime was committed. He said a deputy is researching whether any county regulations were violated. Hoy also said he hopes to speak directly with Ewing about the matter before going any further.

“They’re just circling their wagons now,” said Ewing, when told of the status of the sheriff’s investigation. “There is absolutely no place down along the river where you can be more than 150 yards away from this building and the next one down the road.”

He said the hazard presented by hunters shooting guns in his neighborhood “is going to continue to be a problem.” Aside from the danger to homeowners near him, he said, the hunting party was shooting in an area directly across the Roaring Fork River from the popular Rio Grande Trail, used daily by hikers and bikers.

“Do they have to wait until somebody gets killed?” Ewing asked. “They have a dead fox. Do they need a dead person?”

Ewing, who says he is a recreational skeet shooter himself, said, “I am not an anti-gun person.” He also denied a return accusation by Killebrew, that Ewing was known as a frequent complainer to authorities.

“I haven’t complained about any of my other neighbors shooting,” Ewing said, though he admitted to having once accused Killebrew of illegally using his property for commercial purposes.

But, he said, “This is just crazy, for somebody to be pinned down at this house for hours, and the sheriff’s department to say that’s fine. It’s ridiculous. It’s a real issue down here now.”

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