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STEM School seniors graduate in emotional ceremony at Broncos training center

1 hour 20 min ago

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Seniors at STEM School Highlands Ranch graduated at the Broncos' training center Monday.

The ceremony honored 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who was fatally shot when he and two classmates tackled one of the two shooters May 7. The shooting came during the last week of classes for Castillo and his fellow seniors.

Castillo was awarded the first diploma of the night to a standing ovation. His diploma was accepted on behalf of his family by his best friend, Jordan Monk.

Friendship and love were the overarching themes at the graduation.

"I hope if you've learned anything, it's that we all need each other. We need to support each other," said Mike Shallenberger, a teacher who spoke during the ceremony.

Valedictorian Emma Goodwill said Monday the attack does not define the school, although she will take the events with her through life.

"It was an attack on so many things, but it was also an attack on this common ideological foundation that was fundamentally the center of our school: mutual respect for our peers' individuality. A love for each student's personal and particular nature," she said. "However, Kendrick's personal nature was not shaken. He continued to love and to protect just as he had. Kendrick died as he lived."

Goodwill asked her classmates to "love so fully and fundamentally like Kendrick," who she described as a "gracious, kind, funny and genuinely joyful kid."

"Kendrick's identity does not lie in the fact that he died protecting our school and our classmates, but rather that it was so fundamentally him to love that much," she said.

Castillo and classmates Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones were credited with helping minimize the bloodshed by charging at one of the suspects in a classroom.

According to Bialy, Castillo sprang into action against the shooter "and immediately was on top of him with complete disregard for his own safety." Jones, 18, said he was shot twice in the leg before Bialy was able to take the attacker's gun.

Two students, ages 18 and 16, were arrested at the school and are facing dozens of charges, including murder, attempted murder, arson and theft.

Besides Castillo, eight students were shot during the attack. They have since been released from the hospital.

Gov. Polis signs bill requiring landlords provide safe, clean housing

1 hour 45 min ago

DENVER -- Gov. Polis signed a bill Monday that requires landlords provide safe, clean and healthy homes for their tenants according to state habitability standards and building codes. Under the "Safe and Healthy Homes Act," if landlords fail to follow the standards, tenants can wait to pay their rent until the issues are addressed without fear of retaliation.

Polis says most landlords provide good homes for renters, but  “there are some cases where there needs to be intervention of the law where things are very unsafe for the tenant.”

Renter Royla Rice tells FOX31 she’s had her share of landlord nightmares.

"My landlord hid the red tag from the utilities company on a gas heating unit. He hid it rather than repair the unit. That almost killed me," Rice said.

Rice testified at legislative hearings in support of the new law.

Tiana Patterson said the bill will bring fairness to an arrangement that can sometimes benefit landlords when renters fear they will lose their home if they complain about needed repairs.

"You can compel your landlord to act and not feel beholden to what they say and what they do," said Patterson.

Landlord and real estate agent Luca Baud said the agreement will benefit both parties.

"It holds everyone accountable. It allows the tenant and the landlord to have that full transparency together," he said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife using dogs to help reinforce bears’ fear of humans

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 22:53

DENVER -- On Monday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife tweeted out a video of an orphaned bear cub being hazed by Samson, a member of its K-9 Program.

Samson is one of three dogs used by CPW to help re-introduce wildlife back into its natural habitat.

"The purpose is to provide hazing tactics to reinforce a bear's natural fear of humans," CPW said on Twitter.

As part of the training, the dog remains on the leash and there is no contact with the bear.

"The hope is that these bears associate humans with a place that they don’t want to be, so that way, in the future, they’re not going in trying to break into homes or get into people’s trash, looking for food," said Jason Clay with CPW.

CPW said the program is experimental.

The video was shot in the Rampart Range in Pike National Forest.

Questions/concerns arise on if it is necessary or mean to use a K9 on a bear release.

Samson, part of @COParksWildlife's K9 pilot program, is being used as an experiment on bear hard releases. The purpose is to provide hazing tactics to reinforce a bears natural fear of humans. pic.twitter.com/aQ4RfORPwy

— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) May 20, 2019

Colorado first responders headed to France for D-Day pipe and drum performances

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 22:50

ARVADA, Colo. -- The Colorado Emerald Society Pipe Band will soon be performing at ceremonies honoring the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France.

Their instruments evoke the sound of reverence and respect, so it is hard to imagine a more appropriate gig for the band.

"The tone just kind of runs through you. You know, it's solemn. Most people associate [bagpipes] with a funeral. That's usually the only time that most people hear them," said Mike West, the band's pipe major.

Maybe you've never paid much attention to the Colorado Emerald Society. But at our community's lowest times, they're here, providing the soundtrack for our grief, as we saw with their performances at three law enforcement funerals last year.

Now, the band is preparing to honor even more heroes. In a couple of weeks, they'll be in Normandy, performing at ceremonies honoring the men who fought and died on D-Day, 75 years after they fell.

The band is performing  June 6 at Brittany American Cemetery in Montjoie Saint Martin, France; June 7 at Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, France; and June 8 in Sainte Mere Eglise, France.

"It's been really pretty special. A lot of the guys have researched their own family members that served and fought over there and so we're going to spend a lot of time looking for the places where their grandfathers might have been and those places," West said.

Each note squeezed from their bagpipes and each beat of their drum is the sound of reverence and respect.

"And my dad actually fought in the South Pacific, so you know, maybe one day I can knock that off the bucket list," said James Dawe, an Arvada firefighter who volunteers with the band.

The Colorado Emerald Society is still raising money for their trip, and if you'd like to help cover the cost, you can do so through GoFundMe.

Colorado man dies while skiing to backcountry lodge

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 22:32

VAIL, Colo. — Authorities say a Colorado man died while skiing to a popular backcountry lodge to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday.

The Vail Daily reports Paul Cuthbertson, an accomplished skier and lifelong resident of Eagle and Summit counties, left late Friday afternoon and was headed up the usual route to the Polar Star Inn, which is part of the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association.

He apparently deviated from the normal route at some point, and his friends started looking for him early Saturday morning.

Friday night’s weather was snowy and windy, especially in the area where Cuthbertson was skiing. The Polar Star Inn is just below timberline on the west side of New York Mountain.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis has not released a cause of death.

Father honors late daughter’s memory with surprise field trip for her classmates

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 21:52

TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – An Alabama father mourning the loss of his daughter decided to honor her memory by treating her classmates to a field trip before the school year comes to a close.

Monday morning, 111 G.W. Trenholm second graders shed their shoes and replaced them with jump socks at the Florence location of SkyZone.

The 112th student on this field trip would have been Jaleia Smith.

“(We) try to have as much fun as we can, but sometimes we can’t have as much fun as we would have if she was here,” explained second-grader Mia Awwad.

“I’m not going to say it’s tough,” said Jeremy Smith, Jaleia’s father. “I'm going to say I just wish my daughter could have been here with them. This is one of her places that she loved to come to.”

For her 8th birthday party, Jaleia and her friends jumped on these same mats. Three weeks later, on September 27, 2018, tragedy struck the Smith family through a car wreck. The little girl who had just posed with butterfly wings in the school cafeteria, grew a different set.

Jaleia's father wanted to end the school year on a positive note by showing his appreciation to the students and teachers. In his daughter’s honor, Smith paid for all 111 students to enjoy his daughter’s favorite activity.

“Everything they helped me through with my daughter’s situation; all the support they gave me,” said Smith. “I just wanted to thank G.W. Trenholm for being there with me through my sorrows.”

Following the tragic wreck and Jaleia’s passing, her classmates retired her student number at school and planted a tree. Messages to Jaleia have been left on her classrooms chalk-board all year also in her honor.

Dressbarn to close all of its 650 stores

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 21:00

MAHWAH, N.J. – Dressbarn will be closing all 650 of its stores, Ascena Retail Group announced on Monday.

The women’s clothing retailer has locations across the country. There are eight Dressbarns in the Denver metro area, with stores in Westminster, Northglenn, Littleton, Centennial, Parker, Castle Rock and Aurora (two locations).

“For more than 50 years, Dressbarn has served women’s fashion needs, and we thank all of our dedicated associates for their commitment to Dressbarn and our valued customers. This decision was difficult, but necessary, as the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment,” said Steven Taylor, Dressbarn chief financial officer, in a news release on Monday.

Ascena Retail Group did not release a timeline for the closures, and said stores and the website remain operational. There are no current changes to the return, refund or gift card policies.

“During the wind down process, we will continue to provide our customers with the same great experience both in-store and online, offering them even better deals and value. We will work to assist our associates through the transition and maintain existing relationships with our vendors, suppliers, and other key stakeholders through this process,” Taylor said.

Ascena Retail Group also owns Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant, Catherines and Justice.

Active shooter false alarm causes panic at Northglenn Walmart; arrest made in parking lot

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 20:31

NORTHGLENN, Colo. -- Reports of an active shooting inside a Northglenn Walmart caused panic at the store Monday afternoon. However, while an arrest was made in the parking lot, the reports of an active shooter were unfounded.

Witnesses described the scene as chaotic.

“I heard these two large bangs and immediately, people start running down the aisle,” said Edward Johnson, who was inside the store at the time.

Outside, authorities had cornered a female suspect, who was later taken into custody.

“There was police, FBI, sheriff — everybody was out there,” said Alisa Sanchez, a Walmart employee.

The Northglenn Police Department says no gunshots were fired. However, at the time, people feared the suspect had made it inside the store with a gun.

“Someone opened the back door, which set off the alarm and even made it worse because an alarm was going off.  People were yelling.  One woman was crying. It was intense for 15 or 20 minutes,” Johnson told FOX31 and Channel 2.

Johnson says Walmart employees didn’t hesitate to get customers to a safe area.

“The employees start going, ‘Active shooter! Get into the back room.’ They herded us into the back room and locked the door.  We were in there for maybe 15 minutes. Then they let us out and the police were at the front," Johnson said.

Sanchez had just returned from her lunch break when she heard those same two “bangs” from outside.

“It was scary. My stomach was upset,” she recalled.

Sanchez says that almost immediately, she thought of the deadly shooting at a Walmart just one mile away in neighboring Thornton in 2017.

“One of my friend’s sons was one of the victims. That’s the first thing that went through my mind was, ‘oh boy'," Sanchez said.

Fortunately, no one was hurt Monday, and it was business as usual shortly after the arrest.

Sanchez says she’s just thankful the suspect never made it inside.

“I think it could have been really bad because the people had guns also. I could see that there was guns. I think it could have been really bad," she said.

FOX31 spoke with the Northglenn Police Department, asking for more details about the incident. No new information was released as of Monday evening.

DPD officers complete ‘Back 2 Basics’ training on ethics, de-escalation, stress

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 20:13

DENVER – The Denver Police Department is going "Back 2 Basics," sending every single officer through a week-long training session.

“We are asking our officers to take a step back and say, 'Do you remember why you took this job? Do you realize what this job has done to you over the course of the career? Do you still have the ability to communicate with someone who is non-verbal?' It’s easy to say, 'I’m in uniform and I’m in charge, do what I say.' Do you have ability to talk to someone in crisis, slow it down and have empathy?" technician Tyrone Campbell said,

This massive undertaking began 2 1/2 years ago. The last of the 1,500 officers just completed the course. They covered ethics, de-escalation, bias and stress.

Officers spent time in the state-of-the-art simulator as well as real-life scenarios.

"I think our job as a training academy is to give them tools to not only make them good police officers, but it’s to make them good people, not only good at work, but also at home," Campbell said.

Officers also took part in a community service project.

“We have sent officers to our homeless shelters, we have sent officers to DPS, we have sent officers to Denver Health adolescent psych unit," Campbell said.

DPD officers have also spent time at Laradon, a facility for developmentally and intellectually challenged children and adults.

“We have one young lady in transitions program. When we started this program, she wouldn’t interact with the police officers at all. Yesterday, it was so great Sgt, Saunders [was] in the group. She told him, 'You sit,' and picked out the colors for him. She picked out the page for him to color," Laradon volunteer coordinator Angela Rotello said. “It gives our individuals the opportunity to interact with officers in a calm environment so when they do have to interact with the police out in the community, it’s not so intimidating. It gives them peace of mind they can be heard and understood.”

“It’s been an extremely rewarding journey for us. It was fun to see those officers go through this transition. It’s also been cool to see our officers get into a wagon at Children’s Hospital and get pulled around, cool to see [the] SWAT team kneeling down with developmentally delayed [people]," Campbell said.

As a result of this program, DPD has done more than 6,000 hours of community engagement and 18 percent of their officers have signed up on their own to help the homeless population.

Officers have also donated 77 gallons of blood and platelets to Children’s Hospital.

“For us, it was looking forward. And how do we stay where we want to be and how do we become the premier agency our citizens expect and deserve?" Campbell said.

Colorado families shoot anti-vaping PSAs with humor

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:46

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- Health officials call it an epidemic: 50 percent of high school seniors in Douglas County say they have used vape products.

Now, a group of concerned teens and parents is helping to educate the community with public service announcements that are airing on local TV stations and on YouTube.

The teens involved thought relatable subjects and humor would be more effective than scare tactics to get through to their peers.

The teens deliver lines like: “High school is hard….”  “My friends found out about my Fortnite coach…”  and ending with, “but at least I don’t have a nicotine addiction to a flash drive.”

The young people and their parents are with the Douglas County Youth Leaderboard and are working with the Tobacco Free 303 Campaign out of the Tri-County Health Department to discourage young people from vaping and to encourage parents to get informed and know what a vape product looks like.

Abby, Chris and Adrienne Hoerler from Highlands Ranch were all in the anti-vaping videos.

"It’s really prevalent. There’s a lot of kids doing it,” said Abby.

“I feel like it’s about 50 percent of the kids who do it,” said Chris.

Their mother, Adrienne, believes it’s important for parents to learn about vaping and be able to talk to their kids about it.

“They do see it on almost a daily basis,” Adrienne said.

The family hopes the videos will help people learn more about the health implications of vaping.

“It’s not just water vapor. It is something that could potentially harm their health in the long term,” said Taylor Roberts with Tri-County Health Department. “Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and with vape products in particular, it’s delivering a really high dose efficiently into the lungs."

The campaign acknowledges kids are stressed out, but experts want them to find healthy ways to cope.

Trump team to brief Congress on Iran; Dems seek counterpoint

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:32

WASHINGTON — As questions mount over President Donald Trump’s tough talk on Iran, top national security officials are heading to Capitol Hill to brief Congress. But skeptical Democrats have asked for a second opinion.

The competing closed-door sessions Tuesday, unusual and potentially polarizing, come after weeks of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf that have raised alarms over a possible military confrontation with Iran. Lawmakers are warning the Trump administration it cannot take the country into war without approval from Congress, and the back-to-back briefings show the wariness among Democrats, and some Republicans, over the White House’s sudden policy shifts in the Middle East.

Trump, veering between bombast and conciliation in his quest to contain Iran, threatened Monday to meet provocations by Iran with “great force,” but also said he’s willing to negotiate.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters Monday as he left the White House for a campaign rally. He said Iran has been “very hostile.”

“We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happened, but if it does, it will be met, obviously, with great force,” Trump said. “We’ll have no choice.”

Trump said while there are no talks with Iran he still wants to hear from them, “if they’re ready.”

Over the past several weeks the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier and other resources to the Persian Gulf region, and evacuated non-essential personnel from Iraq, amid unspecified threats the administration says are linked to Iran.

The administration is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other top brass, including Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, for closed-door briefings Tuesday with both the House and Senate.

But House Democrats, deeply skeptical of the information from the Trump officials — and mindful of the drumbeat of claims during the run-up to the Iraq War — invited former CIA Director John Brennan and former State Department official Wendy Sherman, who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, does not have a formal briefing planned but is prepared to answer questions on Iran — and is willing to do the same for Republicans, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. The intent, the person said, is to provide information and not to be partisan.

Top Democrats say Trump escalated problems by abruptly withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, a complex accord negotiated during the Obama administration to prevent the country from nuclear weapons production.

Trump’s allies in Congress, including GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, say the threats from Iran are real. Graham urged Trump to “stand firm” and said he received his own briefing over the weekend from John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser.

“It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq,” Graham tweeted. “If the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated we must deliver an overwhelming military response.”

But Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona, an Iraq War veteran, tweeted that after having received “the same” intelligence briefing, that was not his conclusion.

“That is not what is being said. This is total information bias to draw the conclusion he wants for himself and the media,” Gallego tweeted.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said it’s important to more fully understand the situation. “I think Iranians think that our moves are offensive, we think their moves are offensive, that’s how you get into wars by mistake,” he said.

Graham’s reference to Iran having attacked ships appeared to be a further indication that the U.S. military has concluded that Iran was behind the reported attack May 12 on four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

At the outset of an investigation into those apparent attacks, which damaged vessels of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Norway but caused no injuries, U.S. officials had said they appeared to be carried out by Iran.

A U.S. official said Monday the probe was finished and evidence still pointed at Iran, although the official did not provide details. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Sunday, a rocket landed near the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone of Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, days after nonessential U.S. staff were ordered to evacuate from diplomatic posts in the country. No one was reported injured. Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul told The Associated Press that the rocket was believed to have been fired from eastern Baghdad, an area home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.

Defense officials said no additional Iranian threats or incidents had emerged in the days since the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group arrived in the Arabian Sea late last week.

Iran, meanwhile, announced that it has quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity. Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as acknowledging that capacity had been quadrupled. He said Iran took this step because the U.S. had ended a program allowing it to exchange enriched uranium to Russia for unprocessed yellowcake uranium, as well as ending the sale of heavy water to Oman. Heavy water helps cool reactors producing plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons.

Tehran long has insisted it does not seek nuclear weapons, though the West fears its program could allow it to build them.

Trump’s remarks reflect what has been a strategy of alternating tough talk with more conciliatory statements, which he says is aimed at keeping Iran guessing at the administration’s intentions.

He described his approach in a speech Friday, saying, “It’s probably a good thing because they’re saying, ‘Man, I don’t know where these people are coming from,’ right?”

Truth Check: Hancock goes negative with ad in controversial Denver mayoral race

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:05

DENVER -- The FOX31 Problem Solvers continues our series "Truth Check" by sorting fact from fiction in political commercials airing on our station.

You can watch our previous “Truth Check” segments here and you can read our criteria and standards here.

Monday's Truth Check focuses on the race for mayor in Denver. Two-term incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock is going against challenger Jamie Gillies.

In the commercial, Hancock is going negative for the first time in the race on TV and online.

Today we released a campaign ad that reminds voters that elections have consequences and words matter. pic.twitter.com/prNRzfDWDS

— Hancock for Denver (@HancockforDen) May 20, 2019


Giellis is like President Trump for saying undocumented immigrants are criminals. 

Exact quote in ad: "Jamie Giellis for mayor? Like Trump, she called undocumented immigrants criminals. 'Yes, we won't tolerate crime or criminal activity. We will comply with the authorities. We will comply with ICE."

Verdict:  FALSE

Reason: The Hancock campaign took a soundbite from Giellis during a March forum with the Denver Republican Party. 

The Truth Check team has seen the entire clip -- presented with context below -- and nowhere does she call undocumented immigrants criminals. Instead, she says the city won't tolerate crime and will comply with ICE.


DENVER MAYOR: Full video of @jamiefordenver discussing immigration during March forum. @HancockforDen using "We won't tolerate crime or criminal activity. We will comply with authorities we will comply with ICE" in new attack ad. Her full answer is far from sounding like Trump. pic.twitter.com/CWjViSgtWA

— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) May 20, 2019

Ironically, cooperating with ICE when a warrant is issued is the current policy in Denver under Mayor Hancock. Hancock, following Gillies' answer, explained the policy, which you can watch below.

DENVER MAYOR: Interesting - after @jamiefordenver gave her immigration answer - which is now being used in attack ad - Hancock in March forum says Denver is in full compliance w/ law requiring cooperation with ICE if a warrant is presented and signed by a judge. #copolitics pic.twitter.com/kxVIrVyVuP

— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) May 20, 2019


Giellis didn't know the NAACP acronym and she deleted racially insensitive tweets.

Exact quote in ad: "What does NAACP stand for? 'National African-American' 'No' 'You going to test me on this?' Now, Jamie Giellis has deleted racially insensitive tweets."

Verdict:  True

Reason: Giellis failed to correctly describe the acronym for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last week during a Facebook Live interview with Brother Jeff, a Colorado African-American leader. She apologized.

Giellis also admitted to deleting social media posts, including one from 10 years ago that asked, "Why do so many cities feel it necessary to have a 'Chinatown'?" The other tweet was a recent campaign account tweet advertising "low riders" at a campaign event at a Denver Mexican restaurant.

The two tweets she deleted:

Dinosaur fossils unearthed at Highlands Ranch construction site

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 17:32

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- Construction crews made a historic discovery when they unearthed dinosaur fossils near a retirement community in Highlands Ranch.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is exploring the site where a limb bone and several ribs from a dinosaur were the first uncovered, according to an announcement made Monday.

"From what we've seen, we think it's a horned dinosaur, something like triceratops," said chief fossil preparator Natalie Toth.

It could also be a rare torosaurus, according to Toth, who says the two creatures are differentiated by just three bones.

"What's really special is that the fossils from the Denver formation are from some of the last dinosaurs that were walking around before the big extinction," she said.

Crews are hoping they'll be able to recover the entire dinosaur, which has been well preserved over 66 million years.

"We have a complete lower leg bone, we have a handful of complete ribs, so for the most part, it doesn't seem like there was a lot of destructive activity destroying the bone, which is really excellent," Toth said.

It could be several weeks before the dinosaur is completely uncovered.

The construction site is on private property, and visitors will not be allowed to see the excavation activity.

It's also unclear where the dinosaur will end up once it's unearthed.

"I sure hope it comes to our prep lab and we get to work on it," said Toth. "Any time you work in a museum, you wait for that phone call, that somebody's found a fossil in their backyard."

“It’s always exciting to get a call about possible fossils, and I can’t wait to share more details as we continue to dig,” said Dr. Tyler Lyson, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum. “Finds like this, while relatively rare, are a great reminder of how dynamic our planet is and how much more there is out there to discover.”

Lyson studies the evolution of dinosaurs and turtles and is particularly interested in what was occurring in the Rocky Mountain region 66 to 68 million years ago.

Construction will continue while the museum team works to determine the number and type of fossils.

DA wants GPS monitor for I-70 crash suspect already released on bond

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 17:02

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- The trucker who posted bail Saturday night for charges related to a deadly crash on Interstate 70 is not currently being monitored with a GPS bracelet. The FOX31 Problem Solvers have learned bond conditions for Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos did not include an ankle monitor or any way to track his movements once he posted bail.

Just hours after FOX31 raised questions with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to order Aguilera-Mederos to wear a GPS device.

RELATED: Read the motion requesting GPS monitoring

The judge has agreed to hold a hearing on the motion but has not yet set a date and time to rule on the matter.

The 23-year-old Cuban national who is living legally in the United States is accused of causing a fiery crash that killed four people on I-70 in Lakewood last month.

Aguilera-Mederos is charged with four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault and 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault.

Aguilera-Mederos' bond was set at $400,000. But because it was surety bond posted through a bail bonds company, Aguilera-Mederos only had to come with about 10 percent of the $400,000, or about $40,000.

At the original April 27 bond hearing for Aguilera-Mederos, Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Kate Knowles asked for a $500,000 cash-only bond, meaning Aguilera-Mederos would've needed to pay the entire amount -- not just 10 percent -- to secure his release.

At the hearing, Knowles said, "The fact that [Aguilera-Mederos] has hired private counsel demonstrates he has means and therefore does have the means and the ability and the opportunity to flee such serious charges."

In the motion filed Monday afternoon and first obtained by the Problem Solvers, prosecutors state, "The People’s investigation has revealed that the Defendant attempted to flee the scene of the collision, this was previously unknown at the time of the original bond setting."

As a result, prosecutors want to modify bond conditions to  include GPS monitoring as a condition of the defendant's bond because the motion states Aguilera-Mederos faces "a lengthy mandatory Department of Corrections sentence" and has no ties to  Colorado.

As part of his bond conditions, Aguilera-Mederos was supposed to surrender his passport, but at his original bond hearing, his defense attorney Rob Corry told the judge he was under the impression the passport was inside the truck that got incinerated during the chain-reaction explosion.

The judge did insist Aguilera-Mederos not leave the state of Colorado but it's not clear where he's staying since his family ties are to Texas and Florida.

The crash occurred near the Denver West exit of eastbound I-70 on April 25. It involved 24 passenger vehicles and four semi-trailers.

According to an arrest affidavit, Aguilera-Mederos told investigators that the brakes on his semi failed and that he was going more than 80 mph at the time of the crash.

Investigators reviewed a number of videos that appeared to show Aguilera-Mederos out of control, including one filmed by Pedro Olvera. That video appeared to show Aguilera-Mederos passing a runaway truck ramp and signs warning truckers about steep grades as the interstate winds into the Denver area.

Another video captured by a YouTuber shows a semi speeding down the shoulder of the interstate moments before the crash occurred.

Colorado man guilty of murder resentenced after Supreme Court decision

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 16:58

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — A Colorado man who was underage when he was convicted of murder was re-sentenced to 35 years in prison last Tuesday after a Supreme Court decision found that sentencing juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional.

Michael Tate was found guilty of felony murder in the death of 62-year-old Steve Fitzgerald.

Tate was 16 at the time of the crime but the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office filed charges in adult court and he received a sentence of life without parole.

The new sentence of 35 years will be counted from his original sentencing date, Nov. 2, 2007.

He also received 1,088 days of credit for time served while awaiting trial, according to the Jefferson County Court.

He will receive mandatory parole.

Van passenger impaled after tripod thrown from freeway overpass

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 16:33

SACRAMENTO - A Caltrans tripod was stolen Thursday in Old Sacramento before it was thrown through the windshield of a van traveling on Interstate 5, injuring the people inside.

The van was a shuttle for Military Families Support Group.

"I was picking a veteran up from the Sacramento Airport heading to Mather to pick up another veteran. That's what we do" driver Tim Page said.

The California Highway Patrol says around 10:30 a.m., someone stole a Caltrans survey team's tripod from the corner of Neasham Circle and Front Street.

Minutes later, investigators determined the tripod was deliberately thrown from the 2nd Street overpass. It pierced a windshield on the passenger side of a passing Chevrolet van heading south on I-5, according to the CHP.

"And out of the corner of my eye I see this yellow thing and the next thing I know, my rider has this thing stuck in his chest," Page said.

Page said his passenger was impaled by the tripod. He pulled onto the shoulder and admits he panicked, but Page said his passenger remained calm.

"And there was no blood or anything," Page said. "And I didn’t realize that that spike had  gone into his chest into his lung, and broke four ribs."

Page says his passenger didn't even think they should call 911.

"He says, 'Nah, I'm okay.' I look at the windshield and I said, 'We can't drive out of here anyway. I'm calling 911,'" Page told KTXL.

(Credit: CHP South Sacramento)

While waiting for an ambulance in the rain, Page says his passenger suggested they move under an overpass so first responders wouldn't get wet.

"You know he's very experienced in what he did before he retired," Page said.

Investigators say officers used a local business's surveillance footage to determine the suspect was a man wearing dark-colored shorts and a dark-colored shirt, as well as blue sneakers.

Around 1:20 p.m., a sergeant spotted a man matching the suspect's description walking in the area where the theft took place. The 32-year-old transient man ran and struggled with the sergeant before he was detained.

The man was arrested on suspicion of resisting a peace officer and for an active warrant. The CHP is still investigating the incident, but if the man is found to be responsible for the crime he could face a felony charge for attempted murder.

Page says his passenger is recovering in the hospital, but is in good spirits. Had the tripod hit him just a few inches to the left, he would have been in much worse shape.

"He could have been dead. If that thing would have hit over here in his heart, I mean that spike is that long," Page said. "And it went all the way in."

Loveland PD: Man accused of driving into Dairy Queen picnic area was under the influence

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 16:31

Warning: Some people may find the video below disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

LOVELAND, Colo. -- Police said the man accused of driving into a Loveland Dairy Queen's picnic area and injuring a family of four on Saturday was under the influence.

The Loveland Police Department said Monday that 31-year-old Michael John Dupuis, of Loveland, was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he drove a Toyota Corolla into the picnic area at 300 W. Eisenhower Blvd.

Michael John Dupuis. Credit: Loveland police

"A witness following the vehicle said that the Toyota was driving erratically and suddenly went off the right side of the roadway and struck the family picnic area at Dairy Queen. A family of four were sitting at the table and one member of the family was briefly trapped under the vehicle," LPD said in a press release.

All four people were taken to a hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Dupuis is charged with DUI and vehicular assault.

Storm system brings rain, snow and chilly temperatures to Colorado: Pinpoint Weather Alert Day

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 15:40

DENVER -- A strong late-spring storm will keep most of Colorado under cloudy skies with rain, snow and chilly temperatures.

In the Denver area, rain will change to snow during the overnight hours heading into Tuesday. We are expecting accumulation of heavy, wet snow. It looks to be light in the city and mainly on grassy areas. The totals will be deeper on the west and south sides of the metro.

#cowx snow expected overnight will accumulate...in Denver it will mainly be on grassy areas with lots of melting...west in the foothills & south across higher terrain the totals will be higher...watch your plants and trees! pic.twitter.com/rOCuZCsPVP

— Dave Fraser (@DaveFraserWX) May 20, 2019

You'll need to protect your plants from the cold and the weight of the snow. Potted plants should be brought inside. Those in the ground will need to be covered with something sturdy. Also, watch your trees now that they are in full bloom.

Temperatures overnight will be close to or just below freezing. So, any exposed sprinkler pipes will need to be drained or wrapped. Don't forget to disconnect hoses as well.

Snow will change back to rain on Tuesday before slowly ending late in the day.

We will have additional rain showers on Wednesday and Thursday.

Our weather pattern looks to dry out heading into the start of Memorial Day weekend. However, I am forecasting a few showers or thunderstorms on the holiday.

Check interactive radar and zoom in to where you are. Plus, check the radar anytime with the Pinpoint Weather App for iPhone and Android.

Pinpoint Weather Meteorologists Matt Makens, Christine Rapp, Chris Tomer, Chief Meteorologist Dave Fraser, Greg Dutra, and Jessica Lebel.

Pinpoint Weather has been independently certified as Colorado's Most Accurate Forecast by WeatheRate.

We're tracking weather today on FOX31 Denver and Channel 2 News - and when conditions are bad we send out the Weather Beast.

Hail, Wind & Rain Season – Protect Your Home with K-Guard Gutters

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 14:58

We've already been dealing with lots of heaving rain, hail, and wind and we're not out of the woods yet.  That's why now is the time to get a K-Guard Leaf Free Gutter system, so all those leaves and other debris and gunk won't clog your gutters when the storms roll in.  Call 303-476-4323 NOW for a free estimate and 15% OFF your entire purchase.


Mark has Lost More than 180 Pounds! – Evolve Body and Wellnes

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 14:44

Evolve Body and Wellness can help you feel your best this spring and summer with some easy non-invasive solutions and their 20 pounds in 20 days program.  Ed Villa introduces us to Mark Long, who has lost 185 pounds!

Ed and his team have two great special offers just for Colorado's Best viewers: First, get the new reduced price for Zerona. Get six Zerona Laser Treatments for just $199. That's the lowest price Evolve Body and Wellness has ever offered, but it's only available to the first 10 callers. You can also get a one month of weight loss injections for just $49. And for the new medically Directed Weight Loss program, get a free consolation plus 50% off!  And don`t forget to ask about their 20 pounds in 20 days challenge as well.

Call and book your consultation now at (303)-847-1369. You can also find them online at EvolveBodyAndWellness.com