Boys linked to church damage

Two suspected in recent arson, theft, vandalism spree

Two juveniles were arrested Tuesday in connection with an Orchard Mesa crime spree that involved at least eight car break-ins and a stolen car, along with tens of thousands of dollars in damage to a church and a shed.

Caleb Hovland and Michael Moore, both 17, are accused of multiple felonies in connection with Monday’s burglary, arson and vandalism at Trinity Baptist Church, 2748 B 1/2 Road, along with a fire that damaged a shed a mile away early Tuesday.

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department also suspects the two boys in a May 9 burglary and vandalism incident that left damage estimated at $500 at the Orchard Mesa Little League Facility, 2728 U.S. Highway 50.

According to an arrest affidavit, the teens were arrested in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday after allegedly stealing a 1994 Subaru Legacy from a driveway at 2754 1/2 Cheyenne Drive, before crashing the vehicle into an irrigation pump on 29 Road, near Victoria Drive.

“Moore said ... it was Caleb who drove recklessly and caused damage to the Subaru by striking a curb, a sign post, and crashing into a fence,” reads a heavily redacted affidavit released late Tuesday by the Grand Junction Police Department.

After the crash and their arrests, the boys were implicated in the attempted theft from a vehicle in the 200 block of Abraham Drive. A homeowner had reported around 5:40 a.m. he saw a white male in a red shirt inside a neighbor’s vehicle.

“When (homeowner) went outside to investigate he saw a second white male wearing a black and white jacket inside of his own truck, parked in his driveway,” the affidavit said.

The man said he ran back inside his house and called police — the two suspects fled.

“(Homeowner) positively identified the males as the suspects he had seen and was 100 percent certain the male wearing the white and black (Michael Moore) was the male he saw in the truck,” the affidavit said.

A host of items allegedly linked to a series of thefts from autos — including a Playboy magazine, a handicapped vehicle placard and a rock hammer — were recovered from the stolen Subaru Legacy, according to the affidavit.

Tuesday’s arrests happened the morning after a rampage of destruction at Trinity Baptist Church.

Church officials estimated damage at $40,000 — a pew and two flags were set fire, while someone had emptied all the church’s fire extinguishers, destroyed computers and televisions with baseball bats, spray-painted messages on walls and dumped items from the church’s food bank around the kitchen.

Less than 24 hours later, around 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, Scott Schultz was asleep with the windows open at his home at 2770 Cheyenne Drive when he awoke to wind gusts stirring up leaves. His home is about a mile from the church.

“I smelled smoke and thought, ‘There must be a forest fire around here,’ ” he said. “Then I thought, ‘That’s an intense smoke smell.’ ”

Schultz went outside and saw his shed on fire, the flames roughly 6 feet from his house.

He ran back inside, called 911 and woke up his daughter. Together, the two doused the fire with garden hoses. Firefighters showed up a short time later to finish the job.

Schultz estimated the damage at more than $5,000, including lawn mowers, chain saws and an outboard motor. Grand Junction fire investigators concluded the fire was set intentionally.

“It’s inconvenient, but it could have been a tragedy,” he said, noting strong winds could have pushed the fire onto his house.

Schultz said someone also rifled through his unlocked truck, although he didn’t think anything was stolen. Several neighbors in the area reported someone rummaged through their vehicles, he said.

“It’s kind of unnerving to know somebody is out there causing trouble,” he said, although he and his daughter were able to find humor in the situation.

“My daughter and I joked, if we’d known we were going to have so much company, we’d have made cookies and invited them in,” he said.

On May 9, sheriff’s deputies investigating a burglary at the Orchard Mesa Little League facility found a cell phone at the concession stand that included a phone number for “mom.”

The deputy called the number and reached Moore’s mother.

Hovland and Moore were booked into the Division of Youth Corrections on Tuesday, and are scheduled for their first court appearances today.


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