Pagosa standoff closes businesses, main thoroughfare

School campuses placed on lock out

A daylong standoff occurred Tuesday in Pagosa Springs between law enforcement and an armed man in a van.

“We’re still attempting to achieve a peaceful resolution,” said Detective Scott Maxwell, spokesman for the Pagosa Police Department, at 10:15 p.m. “We’re still hoping to talk him out.”

The incident began about 8:30 a.m. when an officer with the Pagosa Springs Police Department initiated a traffic stop on Hot Springs Boulevard in downtown Pagosa.

Police had received a report from an off-duty law-enforcement officer that “a habitual traffic offender was driving wildly,” Maxwell said. “The officer approached the vehicle, and the driver began yelling at the officer and brandished a handgun and pointed it at the officer.”

The officer retreated to his vehicle and called for backup, he said. Officers responded and set up a perimeter around the minivan. Hot Springs Boulevard was closed, and two businesses in the immediate vicinity – the Pagosa Springs Post Office and the Bank of the San Juans – were evacuated, Maxwell said.

The man apparently was emotionally distraught, he said. A crisis negotiator was called about 9 a.m. and talked to the man throughout the day, Maxwell said.

The man’s identity was not released, but Maxwell confirmed he is a resident of Archuleta County, whose county seat is Pagosa Springs.

The minivan was stopped near the community center and Town Hall along Hot Springs Boulevard.

Pagosa Springs schools were placed on “lock out,” meaning no one could enter or leave the schools, but classes went on as usual, said Robyn Bennett, executive secretary with the school district.

Police escorted students to buses and to parent pick-up locations at the end of the day, she said.

The school district was given little information about the standoff, Bennett said.

“We’re in the dark,” she said. “You guys probably know more than I do.”

The town manager’s office did not return phone calls Tuesday seeking comment.

Businesses along Hot Springs Boulevard were told to lock their doors and not leave, said Sally Alling, an employee at Exodus Shipping, 317 Hot Springs Blvd.

It was her understanding that a suicidal subject was inside a car, she said.

“They just called us and told us to stay in lock down,” Alling said.

A woman who answered the phone at the hot springs but asked not to be identified said occupants were asked by authorities to stay inside.

According to the Colorado State Patrol, which assisted with the standoff, a man in a van had a gun and possibly was suicidal.

If the standoff ends peacefully, the man is expected to face charges.

“He did brandish a gun at the officer, so there will likely be criminal charges filed,” Maxwell said.

Tuesday was the first day of school for students in Pagosa Springs.

“Other than that, it was pretty much a nice first day of school,” Bennett said.

shane@durangoherald.com

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