Victim in alleged Basalt assault told cops he was held at gunpoint, beaten
The victim of Thursday’s alleged assault in Willits told police officers he was held at gunpoint and beaten throughout Wednesday night and early Thursday morning by two men living on Evans Court.
The victim, whose name wasn’t released, told officers he was finally able to escape out of the home onto the roof, according to a police affidavit in support of a warrantless arrest. He climbed down from the roof and went to a neighboring unit to ask them to call police, the affidavit said.
The two residents of unit were arrested Thursday afternoon and were advised Friday of the charges against them in Eagle County Court.
The suspects are Daniel “Danny” Wettstein, 35, and Mustafa Jihad Muhammad, 23. They were both arrested on suspicion of menacing, false imprisonment and first-degree assault with serious bodily injury. Muhammad also was arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of a Schedule 2 drug, cocaine, the affidavit said.
The affidavits, filed in Eagle County District Court, flesh out the picture of what allegedly happened Thursday. According to the affidavit, Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott responded to the scene at 10:21 a.m. Thursday and contacted the victim who “could barely speak and was in extreme pain because of his injuries.” He had suffered serious trauma to his head, face and upper body.
“(The victim) also suffered injuries to his hands that appeared to be inflicted by a bladed object and/or knife,” the affidavit said.
Though communication was difficult because of the extent of the injuries, the victim told Knott he arrived at the townhouse Wednesday evening to visit a man he knew as “Danny Boy,” later identified as Wettstein. The victim lives elsewhere in the midvalley, according to authorities.
“During his visit, Mr. Wettstein held him captive at gunpoint with a pistol pointed at his head,” the affidavit said, recounting the victim’s statement. It didn’t state what triggered the apparent dispute.
Muhammad arrived at the townhouse later in the evening and also allegedly held the pistol to the victim’s head.
“(The victim) said Mr. Wettstein and Mr. Muhammad took turns beating him throughout the night,” the affidavit said. “(The victim) said during the morning of August 27, 2020, Mr. Wettstein and Mr. Muhammad continued to beat him and would not allow him to leave the home.”
Once the victim escaped and police arrived on the scene, an ambulance took him to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs. He was later airlifted to a Grand Junction facility for treatment.
Basalt police secured a perimeter around Wettstein’s residence, with the help of officers from multiple other agencies. They were able to obtain Wettstein’s telephone number and eventually reached him and asked him to come outside. He came out and talked to Basalt Police Officer Thomas Wright.
“As I spoke with Mr. Wettstein, I could smell the odor of intoxicants emanating from his person and mouth,” Wright’s affidavit said. “He became agitated because there were several other officers nearby with guns. I asked Mr. Wettstein if there was anyone else inside the home. He would not respond and continued to escalate his behavior. I then placed him in handcuffs and escorted him away from the immediate area to my patrol car.”
Wright said that no one else responded to orders to exit the townhouse. Wettstein later told Knott that Mohammad was in the residence.
“Mr. Muhammad refused to acknowledge any of our attempts to contact him via voice or patrol car speaker,” the affidavit said.
A SWAT team called the Eagle County Special Operations Unit responded to the call with an armored vehicle and numerous personnel.
“They were finally able to make contact with Mr. Muhammad as he tried to exit the rear of the home,” the affidavit said. Muhammad was taken into custody without incident.
When asked about events the night before, Muhammad said he had been visiting friends and came home to find Wettstein and the victim.
“Mr. Muhammad claimed that when he arrived, Mr. Wettstein had a pistol out, but he denied that the pistol was being used in any forceful way,” the affidavit said.
Muhammad insisted he was “boxing” with the victim later in the night, the affidavit said.
Police made a sweep of the townhouse after Muhammad’s arrest to check for other persons. They alleged found cocaine in Muhammad’s bedroom.
Wettstein and Muhammad were advised of the crimes they are being investigated for in Eagle County Court on Friday. Wettstein’s bond was set at $15,000 cash or surety, he was ordered to surrender all firearms in his possession and a mandatory protection order was issued to prevent his contact with the victim, according to a court clerk. Wettstein is being represented by attorney Michael Fox.
Mohammad’s bond was set at $25,000 cash and the other conditions applied to him as well, the clerk said.
The District Attorney’s Office has until Sept. 4 to file formal charges. Both men were scheduled to reappear in court on Sept. 8.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Aspen Misc.: some beautiful scenery and an eye to eye encounter.