Suspect kills self at traffic checkpoint
October 25, 2006
RIFLE – A state trooper was in good condition Wednesday after surgery for a gunshot wound in his left arm, and a man who was the subject of an intensive search died after shooting himself when authorities stopped his vehicle at a checkpoint, authorities said.The patrol said Trooper Brian Koch underwent surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. Koch was shot around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday after a traffic stop on a rural Garfield County road about two miles east of Rifle, patrol spokesman Trooper Eric Wynn said.Patrol Capt. Rich Duran at a news conference said Steven Joseph Appl, 33, was riding in a pickup truck being driven by a woman when it was stopped around 7 p.m. Wednesday at a checkpoint. That’s when police reported hearing a shot, which authorities said they were certain did not come from law enforcement.Authorities did not immediately know the woman’s involvement in the case.Koch was hit three times, twice in the chest where his bulletproof vest stopped the bullets, and once through the left forearm, Duran said. He was able to return fire and radio for help.Koch was taken by ambulance to Grand River Medical Center in Rifle before he was transferred to the Grand Junction hospital.The suspect fled the shooting scene in a blue Chevrolet Cobalt, which was found a short time later, Wynn said. The car has been impounded, Silt Police Chief Paul Taylor said. Duran said Appl was stopped at a checkpoint not far from where the car was found abandoned.
Garfield County sheriff’s Deputy Tanny McGinnis said deputies had set up two roadblocks, including one on Interstate 70 near Rifle.Koch has been stationed at the patrol’s Glenwood Springs office for five years, Duran said.