State elected officials and candidates respond to armed man found in Glenwood Springs amusement park
Nearly a week after a man was found dead in a Glenwood Springs amusement park carrying guns, explosives, and body armor, state elected officials representing the area responded to the event and commented on what policy changes could address threats of mass violence.
Carbondale resident Diego Barajas Medina, 20, was found dead at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday. The death, which park officials suspected as a suicide, prompted an investigation by the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.
Based on a preliminary investigation, it appeared that Medina illegally entered the park after hours, when no employees or patrons were present. He is believed to have driven through a service road to enter the park, according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.
He said that two guns found on Medina’s body were ghost guns, which are firearms without serial numbers.
The Colorado state legislature passed a package of laws restricting access to guns in the 2023 legislative session, including a bill that banned the manufacturing, selling, and possession of ghost guns.
The other bills make it easier to sue the gun industry, impose a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases, raise the minimum age for buying guns to 21, and expand Colorado’s red flag law to allow more people to petition a judge to order the temporary seizure of someone’s guns.
State elected officials expressed shock over the threat of violence being so close to home in their rural, mountainous community.
Here’s how elected officials responded to the event and its policy implications:
Editor’s Note: These responses have been edited for clarity and length.
State Sen. Perry Will, R-New Castle: “Behavioral health is on the radar all the time. Obviously, it comes down to funding and things like that, but the appetite for that in the legislature is very high, and it’s a very high priority for me. Gun control is not going to change stuff like this.”
State Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, D-Glenwood Springs: “We’re not safe from gun violence here in rural communities. We are for common sense gun violence prevention legislation, and we want responsible gun ownership. We also have limited access to mental health. We have limited providers, limited facilities.”
Here are the response from candidates in the 3rd Congressional District (The Aspen Times elected to only contact the top two fundraising candidates from each party):
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert: “It’s really difficult to address something like this when someone breaks so many laws. It’s not like you can put another law on the books that would suddenly make this behavior go away. But certainly mental illness is an issue. But I’m just grateful that other people weren’t harmed through his actions … What weapons he decided to carry is not the issue. This was a mentally-ill man who needed help.”
Anna Stout: “When we needed Lauren Boebert to work on common sense gun safety reform and keep weapons away from people that intend to do mass harm, she has failed at every opportunity. This situation hits way too close to home, and we must defeat her next year at the ballot box.”
The Aspen Times did not receive a response from Adam Frisch and Jeff Hurd.
Elliott Wenzler is the Western Slope politics reporter for the Aspen Times and its sister publications in Glenwood Springs, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Summit County and Grand County.
Broadcaster Jim Williams of KSPN and KNFO is leaving the valley after eight years of serving as the voice of Aspen, Basalt and Roaring Fork high school’s sports.