HUERFANO COUNTY — A standoff at a home that began on Friday ended early Saturday morning with the apparent suicide of the barricaded subject.
Just before 1 pm today, Sat., Dec. 20, Walsenburg Police Captain Vince Suarez released this official statement; “On 12/20/2014 at about 12:30 a.m. James Stetler was found deceased at his home in Huerfano County. His home is about 8 miles south of the City of Walsenburg. On Thursday, Dec. 18, at about 4:00 p.m. James Stetler confronted Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman at his Walsenburg home. Sheriff Newman chased Stetler off his property, who then fired four to five shots in the air. Law enforcement officers searched the area for Stetler but were unsuccessful. An arrest warrant was obtained by the Walsenburg Police for menacing and other charges.”
Suarez said in the press release Saturday, “Mr. Stetler had sent a letter to the Huerfano County Sheriff’s office stating he was anti-government and did not believe in our branch of government.”
The situation escalated on Friday, according to Suarez, “Walsenburg officers observed Mr. Stetler come out of his home. Stetler got into his vehicle and came at the officers at a high rate of speed. The officers were able to get out of their vehicle, safely, before a crash. Mr. Stetler drove past the officers while yelling at them. Mr. Stetler continued driving back to his residence where he remained. After several attempts by phone to get Mr. Stetler to come out of his home, he refused.”
Later Friday afternoon Suarez contacted a special tactical team from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office to assist local authorities, when it was learned Stetler had barricaded himself in his home on Ideal Road, HCR 330. “At about 4:00 p m. the Pueblo County Sheriff SWAT team was called into assist with executing the arrest warrant. Mr. Stetler refused to communicate with negotiators, several hours later the SWAT team entered the residence where they found Mr. Stetler deceased,” Suarez said today.
“It appears Mr. Stetler’s death was suicide. The Huerfano County Coroner’s office will be conducting an autopsy.” Suarez added.