A recent crime spree that spread from Paonia to Delta and involved four law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of Curtis Allen Gomez, 36, of Grand Junction. As of Tuesday morning, Gomez remained in custody in Delta on multiple cash bonds and faces multiple charges from all four agencies.
According to Delta County Undersheriff Mark Taylor, on Sunday, July 10, the Delta County Sheriff's Office assisted the Hotchkiss Marshal's Office in locating a vehicle driven by a suspect believed to be involved in a hit-and-run incident that occurred within town limits. The suspect was also believed to have stolen items from a Hotchkiss business before being involved in the hit-and-run, according to Hotchkiss Marshal Dan Miller.
After determining that the vehicle was reported stolen from Kwiki Tire II near Hotchkiss, the sheriff's office contacted Gomez and the vehicle at H50 Road and Highway 92 near Hotchkiss. A rifle found on the front seat of the car matched the description of a weapon that was reported stolen on Monday, July 11, to the Delta Police Department. The weapon, along with cash and other items, had been stolen during a break-in sometime over the weekend of July 9-10.
Gomez was found to have a prior felony record, said Taylor, and was charged by the sheriff's office with possession of a weapon by a previous offender, aggravated vehicle theft and violation of a restraining order. The Grand Junction Police Department verified that Gomez was accused on July 5 of first-degree trespass and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Delta Police Department public information officer Jamie Head said Gomez faces charges of felony burglary, theft, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and misdemeanor criminal mischief in the burglary at the Highway 92 business.
Gomez has also been charged in connection with a burglary at a Paonia liquor store, said Undersheriff Taylor.
A total of five burglaries at businesses and four thefts of private property occurred in Paonia over the weekend of July 8-10, according to Paonia Police Sergeant Neil Ferguson. Thanks to surveillance cameras at one of the businesses, said Ferguson, law enforcement was able to get a description of the vehicle and the suspect.
The four thefts occurred on private property within town limits and remain under investigation. Two incidents involved the theft of pot plants. "They did not have their marijuana grows enclosed and in a locked space," said Ferguson. "This happens every year." He reminds the public that state law requires plants be grown in an enclosed, locked space, not out in a yard and not accessible to the public.
Ferguson said that in light of recent events, the department is urging the public to lock their cars, houses and outbuildings and secure their possessions. "Unfortunately, in this day and age we have to treat things like we live in the big city," said Ferguson.
Anyone with leads or additional information in the Paonia crimes is asked to contact the police department at 527-4822.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.