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Violence threatened at Base Village

SNOWMASS VILLAGE A death threat against Latinos at Snowmass’ Base Village construction site put area police on high alert Friday, but by the evening officers were able to stand down.A written threat on a Port-a-Potty door Tuesday suggested an attack could occur Friday afternoon, according to construction workers. The day passed without incident.Authorities did not reveal the exact nature of the message or the time an attack was to occur, and had no information regarding the author. Snowmass Village official Kathleen Wanatowicz did confirm, however, the attack was to take place Friday, and two other sources said it was to occur at 2:15 p.m.According to one construction worker, the message read, “I’m going to kill any Mexican who gets in my way.” Another source reported a second message replied, “Cool, tell me where and when. I want to see,” or words to that effect. The worker said there has been racial tension at the site.Gary Meggison, project executive for general contractor Weitz Construction, agreed.”That’s kind of the nature of the beast,” he said, referring to the construction atmosphere in the Roaring Fork Valley.Snowmass Village Police Sgt. Brian Olson, incident commander, said authorities took the threat seriously and set up an Incident Command Team as a precaution.Officers from Snowmass Village, Aspen and Basalt were on alert and on site all day. Olson would not confirm reports of snipers in the surrounding hills, but said observers were stationed in high points.”I hope what we’re doing is overkill,” Olson said. “In light of things that have gone on around the country, it has heightened our awareness.”The FBI was reportedly in Snowmass Village earlier in the week, according to a press release issued by the town Friday. Authorities conducted interviews with more than 30 Base Village supervisors.Construction flagger LeRoy Snyder said police and a foreman verified workers’ identities Friday morning and instructed workers to gather at a specified gathering point in the event of emergency.Employees and subcontractors were given the option of revising their Friday work schedules, and several workers chose to stay home, said Wanatowicz. Foul weather around noon also sent workers home.Olson said the threat was “isolated to the construction site.””If something is going on there, they should’ve notified the public earlier,” said Jeff Head, an owner of the Snowmass Conoco adjacent to the construction site. Wanatowicz gave Head a copy of the press release shortly before 2:15 p.m. Friday, he said, but other shopkeepers knew nothing of the incident.Bonnie Yenter, a traffic control supervisor on the site, said she was worried about her flaggers lining the road. Yenter hadn’t heard of any tensions on the job site, and said, “I think everyone gets along pretty well.”Wanatowicz said that with so many large construction projects in the area, and as many as 300 people at the Base Village alone, Friday’s tension was “good practice” for keeping the area safe and implementing the incident command system.Olson said police would continue their investigation until they know more about the author of the note.John Colson contributed to this report. Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.


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