Hotchkiss man gets probation for stealing cop’s guns, SWAT gear

A Hotchkiss man was sentenced today to serve five years of probation in connection with the theft of numerous firearms, including an assault rifle, from an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office detective last year.

Keaton Bell, 25, must serve the first 12 months of his sentence in a community corrections program and complete 100 hours of community service,  Senior U.S. Judge John Kane said today. Bell was ordered released from custody, but must surrender when space becomes available in the community corrections program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said.

Bell pleaded guilty earlier this year to possession of stolen firearms and ammunition, and possession of a machine gun. He faced a maximum 20 years in prison.

Bell was indicted by a federal grand jury for victimizing an Eagle County deputy, who is also a member of the agency’s SWAT unit, who was undergoing cancer treatment in Denver at the time of the crimes in October 2012, prosecutors said. The detective’s girlfriend had invited her girlfriend to stay at the detective’s home in Gypsum while the couple were in Denver for treatment. That person invited her boyfriend, Bell, to stay with her in Gypsum.

While Bell and his girlfriend were at the home between Oct. 5 and Oct. 7, they got into a fight and Bell left the home — taking with him the detective’s SWAT gear including a machine gun, a handgun, ammunition and tactical gear, which was being stored in the home’s basement, according to prosecutors. Some of the equipment was owned by Eagle County.

A search warrant was obtained for Bell’s pickup truck, which revealed a camouflage-colored rifle case under the driver-side rear wheel well. Inside were a host of items from the detective’s home: A Colt M4 Commando .223 caliber fully automatic rifle, an EOTech Sight System, a Surefire Light System, a GemTech Halo Suppressor, a Glock .9 mm semi-automatic pistol and two .223 caliber magazines. A Bersa .380 with a holster was also found hidden under the hood of the truck.

There was evidence the automatic rifle — which was reportedly left clean by the detective — was dirty and had been fired, according to the indictment.



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