Hikers’ find leads to arrests in Norwood robbery
Key tips from citizens and collaborative, quick work by law enforcement helped authorities build a case against several suspects accused of an aggravated kidnapping and robbery of marijuana plants and cash at a home near Norwood in early September, according to an arrest affidavit released Monday.
Authorities have arrested four people in connection with the Sept. 6 incident in which three residents were threatened with guns, tied up, locked in a storage shed and one tortured with a stun gun while suspects stole medical marijuana the victims had been growing, along with $3,000 in cash and other items.
The incident lasted for more than 12 hours before the suspects fled and the victims were able to escape and report it to police.
Ulises Omar Felix, 32, is still wanted in connection with the incident, but suspects in custody at the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department are Gregory Broome, 40, of Clovis, N.M.; Ashley Montalvo, 27, of Norwood; Brisa Marie Felix-Gonzales, 31, of Montrose; and Guillermo Del Pozo, 32, of Phoenix.
According to arrest affidavits for the suspects in custody, two hikers and a motorist who separately reported suspicious activity to the sheriff’s department helped in the investigation.
“That was fantastic,” Sgt. Michael Westcott of the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Department said of citizen involvement. “They had seen the press release and they knew something was odd enough that they needed to call.”
On Sept. 8, two visiting hikers found a pair of size 12 hiking boots stuffed with three camouflaged gloves and a camouflaged mask in the San Miguel River, about 10 miles downstream from the Norwood home where the incident occurred. Agents from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation determined that DNA left on a beer can at the crime scene matched DNA on a glove found in the river. Bootprints discovered around the house matched markings made by the boots found in the river, the affidavit said.
Other items used in the robbery were connected to the female suspects, Felix-Gonzales and Montalvo, who were seen on a video at Montrose’s Walmart purchasing a camouflaged face mask, two pairs of camouflaged gloves, and the same brand of black-and-silver duct tape that was found at the crime scene.
The items were purchased a day before the robbery and the women are seen on video leaving the store’s parking lot in a four-door Buick sedan.
Montalvo lived next door to the home that was burglarized and the same vehicle had been seen at the home, the affidavit said. Montalvo and Ulises Omar Felix are common-law spouses. The other woman, Felix-Gonzales, is the sister of Ulises Omar-Felix, the affidavit said. Del Pozo was arrested on suspicion of harboring some of the stolen items, including marijuana, and concealing it from police.
An area resident also helped police further the investigation. A woman driving her vehicle east on 42 Road just before 6 a.m. Sept. 7 reported to police that a speeding vehicle passed her and failed to stop at a stop sign before crossing Colorado Highway 145.
The woman described the vehicle as a late-model, silver Chrysler 300 with a dark, tinted rear window and no visible license plate. Police in Clovis, N.M., noticed a vehicle matching that description in a parking garage of Gregory Broome. Broome had lived in Norwood, about five miles from the crime scene.
Investigators also tracked cellphone calls among the other suspects and a number in Clovis, N.M. After obtaining a search warrant for Broome’s home, Broome, during an interview with police, confessed to the incident and said he worked with Ulises Omar-Felix to carry out the armed robbery.
Police also were informed by Arizona authorities that Brisa Felix-Gonzales was a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican drug cartel, and that she had been involved in a previous armed home invasion there. Suspects in that case wore black masks, body armor and used AK-47 rifles to threaten a home’s residents. While Felix-Gonzales was not charged in that case, a vehicle she was driving was stopped fleeing the scene and police located black masks and body armor in the vehicle.
In the Norwood case, the suspects talked about raiding other medical marijuana grows in the area, the victims told police.
That has some medical marijuana growers in the area concerned they may be targeted next, Sgt. Westcott said.
Police agencies are actively seeking Ulises Omar Felix, though authorities don’t believe he is still in the area.
The suspects in custody are slated for arraignment today at the San Miguel Combined Court in Telluride.