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Durango woman arrested in connection to broken El Rancho window

Damages estimated at $3,500

A Durango woman was arrested on suspicion of felony criminal mischief Saturday night after she allegedly threw a shot glass at a person, missed and shattered a front window at El Rancho Tavern, causing an estimated $3,500 in damages.

Around 9:50 p.m., Roxanne McKnight, 30, was arrested by Durango Police in the 900 block of Main Avenue as the last hours of the Snowdown binge-drinking marathon winded down.

“There was a little bit more to the story because someone threw something at her, she threw it back, and it hit the window,” Durango Police Sgt. Rita Warfield said.

The large, vertical window was shattered and a custom made neon sign, which features a quasi-double-headed cowboy and Spanish maiden, was broken.

Chris Lile, co-owner of El Rancho, said the sign was an original piece for an old bar that used to be across from El Rancho, that was made in the early 1980s.

“It’s about the third time I’ve had it broken, and I’ve had to repair it every time,” Lile said. “So I’ll be neon signless for about two weeks.”

However, Lile said it was the first time in at least 25 years that one of the front three decades-old windows were broken. He said throughout the week, he heard of other shattered glass incidents at the Henry Strater Theatre and Fired Up Pizzeria.

“Kind of tells you what kind of Snowdown we had,” Lile said.

Warfield also said a man sustained a small cut from ricocheted broken glass.

“This was a kind of interesting incident, I guess,” Warfield said.

As a result, El Rancho refused entrance to thirsty customers for about 30 minutes after the glass broke, allowing officers to take witness reports. Staffers put up a makeshift shutter – blocking the fortuitous draft that had provided necessary relief from the stuffy booze- and sweat-infused room.

In all, Warfield said Durango Police responded to 481 incidents the past three days as Snowdown raged. Not surprisingly, most calls were alcohol-related.

“It’s about the same,” Warfield said, comparing this year to Snowdowns past. “It varies from year to year. There are a lot of people in town, and a lot of alcohol. And we tend to have more contact with people during events like this.”

Incidents included: parking violations, traffic stops, disorderly conduct, assaults, intoxication calls, hit-and-run incidents, shoplifting, and criminal mischief. Warfield noted another frequent call: People seeking assistance after losing their phones or credit cards “partially due to intoxication.”

“Our officers were tied up with all kinds of calls,” she said. “We couldn’t enforce DUIs as much as we would have liked because we were pretty stretched.”

A total of 25 people were taken to jail as of 11 a.m. Sunday since Snowdown began Wednesday.

“But we still have the rest of today,” Warfield said Sunday.


This story has been updated to correct that the woman was arrested after the window was broken.

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