Suspect in Westbank standoff faces attempted murder charge | AspenTimes.com

Suspect in Westbank standoff faces attempted murder charge

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Westbank man who allegedly fired at a sheriff’s deputy and held police at bay in a three-hour standoff at his home Monday is being charged with attempted first-degree murder.

Craig Dance, 61, remains in the Garfield County Jail on a $500,000 bond after appearing in court on Tuesday.

He is also charged with first-degree felony assault and with four misdemeanors: criminal mischief, prohibited use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and obstructing a peace officer.

If convicted on the attempted murder charge, Dance faces up to 48 years in prison on that count alone.

Ninth Judicial District Judge Denise Lynch on Tuesday declined to set Dance’s bail at $1 million, as requested by the district attorney’s office.

“I think it goes without saying that this defendant appears to be a serious risk to the community,” said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett. “I think we need to protect the community.”

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Judge Lynch said nothing in response, other than to set the bond at $500,000.

An affidavit filed in district court Tuesday by Garfield County Sheriff’s Detective Robert Glassmire spells out the basis for the charges and relates details about the shooting and standoff incident.

The incident began around 4 p.m. Monday when Dance called a neighbor, Glenn Victor, and told Victor, “It’s a bloody mess, it’s a bloody mess, good f—ing goodbye.”

Alarmed, Victor called the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office to request a welfare check on Dance at his home at 244 Westbank Road.

According to the affidavit, Victor told investigators that Dance tends to “get out of hand when he is intoxicated.” But Victor indicated he was surprised by Dance’s behavior that day.

When Sheriff’s Deputy Gregory Choinkowsky arrived at the house to check on Dance, Dance replied to the knock at the door by yelling, “Go away” more than once.

Choinkowsky then started walking around the house to get a look in through the windows.

Without warning, Choinkowsky told investigators, Dance appeared on the front stoop with a pistol in his hand, pointed it at the deputy, but did not fire.

Choinkowsky backed away, got to his cruiser and pulled out his rifle, while calling in to let dispatch know what was happening.

Dance went inside the house for a few seconds, according to the report, but soon came back out, “racking” a round into the chamber of the pistol, and firing off four or five rounds in Choinkowsky’s direction. The deputy wasn’t hit.

The criminal mischief charge against Dance stems from bullet holes in Choinkowsky’s cruiser.

After barricading himself in his home for nearly three hours, Dance surrendered peacefully to members of the Garfield County crisis negotiation team and was taken away in a sheriff’s patrol car.

He was taken first to Valley View Hospital for treatment of a slight wound to his head, the cause of which is unknown, and then to the Garfield County Jail.

Although Dance is listed as operating a construction business out of his home, neighbors told investigators that he has been unemployed for several years due to an illness, according to the affidavit.

Several neighbors told investigators that Dance has a drinking problem and has threatened to commit suicide in the past.

One neighbor, Cheri Cappo, told investigators that “she had always known that this was going to happen,” the affidavit stated.

Cappo offered the opinion that Dance suffered from depression, perhaps due to the recent death of his father, who had been living in California, according to the affidavit.

On Dance’s booking sheet at the Garfield County Jail, he is listed as intoxicated at the time he was checked into the jail.

Dance is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 21.

jcolson@postindependent.com