Grand Junction shooting probe now in hands of DA in Glenwood Springs
Grand Junction correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” A prosecutor from outside Mesa County will determine possible criminal charges related to a shooting at a Grand Junction sporting goods store.
District Attorney Pete Hautzinger on Thursday said an investigation into the Feb. 9 shooting at Jerry’s Outdoor Sports, 507 30 Road, has been turned over to Martin Beeson, district attorney in the 9th Judicial District in Glenwood Springs.
Hautzinger said the special prosecution was appropriate because of his relationship with a key figure in the investigation, Richard Bacher.
“I’ve known Richard as long as I’ve been here (1992), we’re friends, we’ve socialized together, and I’ve put him on the witness stand,” Hautzinger said.
Bacher ” a patrol officer who rose to the rank of sergeant with the Grand Junction Police Department between October 1976 and September 2002 ” was working on a .243-caliber rifle on Feb. 9 when it fired and wounded a co-worker.
Kenny Franklin, 53, of Grand Junction, was shot in the abdomen.
Hautzinger said his relationship with Bacher also extends to Bacher’s stint as a supervisor with Mesa County’s Probation Department.
Rob McCallum, spokesman with the Colorado Judicial Branch, confirmed Bacher was a supervisor in the local probation office from October 2002 to July 2003.
Bacher was chief of police in Delta before resigning in September 2007.
“For all those reasons, it’s better for someone who doesn’t have that kind of relationship to look at the case,” Hautzinger said.
The DA said he couldn’t recall the last time he’d spoken with Bacher.
“Certainly not since this incident took place,” Hautzinger said. “I don’t think I’ve talked to him since he left Delta.”
The DA said Beeson’s office will determine what, if any, criminal charges will be filed. If they are, Glenwood prosecutors will handle the case.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 22 turned over a report to Hautzinger on the incident.
Hautzinger said those reports were sent to Glenwood on Thursday.
Beeson’s Ninth Judicial District includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Pitkin counties.
Bacher, 56, told sheriff’s investigators he “thought either Michael (Dean) or Jerry (Stehman) would have checked,” to see if a rifle brought to Jerry’s Outdoor Sports on Feb. 9 still had a live round.
The rifle’s owner, Michael Dean, 47, of Loma, took the weapon in for upgrades that day.
Dean said he first gave the rifle to Jerry Stehman, the store’s owner.
According to court records, Stehman told investigators “he did not open the firearm to see if it was loaded with ammunition, as he should have per Jerry’s Outdoor Sports policy.”
Stehman then gave the rifle to Bacher.
“Richard said he set the rifle upside down in the cradle holding devise and installed the fore stock. Richard turned the rifle right side up in the cradle holding devise and installed the hammer extension.”
“Richard said, while the rifle was still in the holding devise, he pulled the hammer back to test the extension.”
“Richard said the hammer must have slipped from the grip of his thumb and fell forward, causing the rifle to fire,” according to court records.
A search warrant for Dean’s truck was also obtained after a sheriff’s investigator noticed an alleged strong odor of marijuana “emitting” from Dean.
His truck was impounded at the sheriff’s office.
Beeson couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.
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