Search continues for Parachute gunman
Glenwood Springs correspondents
Aspen, CO Colorado
PARACHUTE – Law enforcement agencies continue to search for a gunman who triggered a districtwide school lockdown and overall state of caution in Parachute Wednesday morning.
There were no reports of shots being fired.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said that Jared Burtard, 21, had a verbal confrontation with his brother-in-law at about10:17 a.m. Wednesday. Burtard allegedly pointed a .22 caliber rifle at his brother-in-law and then left the residence with the loaded weapon.
Burtard was last seen leaving the area on foot and appeared to be headed northwest out of town into the hills; he was still at large as of press time.
The Garfield County All Hazards Response Team of heavily armed agents wearing green uniforms were dressed for the worst-case scenario. They combed a neighborhood in the northwest section of Parachute and approached a house on Meadow Drive, where the residents were questioned.
“They were just following up on leads,” said Parachute Police Chief Cary Parmenter.
Parmenter said this is a typical “knock and talk” procedure police do just to follow up on leads they have received. He said occupants of the house in question may have been an acquaintance of the suspect, or Burtard may have been known to frequent the house on occasion, but police would not discuss the specifics of the residence or what the conversation revealed.
School facilities in Battlement Mesa and Parachute were locked down as a precautionary measure.
Garfield County School District 16 Superintendent Steve McKee said that around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, he received information that there was a possibly suicidal gunman on the loose traveling on foot somewhere in Parachute. He passed along the message to administration around the district to lock down all school facilities including the district office. The Early Child Literacy Center, Bea Underwood Elementary, L.W. St. John’s Middle School and Grand Valley High School all went into lockdown for the rest of the day.
Students returned home safely at the end of the day.
Tanny McGinnis, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, said a warrant has been signed for Burtard’s arrest.
The Parachute Police Department asked residents to lock their doors and windows, and be aware of what is going on in their neighborhoods. Anyone who has information concerning Jared Burtard is asked to call 911.
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