Frenzy at convenience store led to standoff
Several motorists at a Clifton gas station derailed a gunman’s plans to steal their vehicles after flatly refusing to hand over their car keys, according to an arrest affidavit.
George Roloff, 34, was in custody Monday on a $1 million bond on charges relating to the attempted armed car thefts, entering a nearby home and threatening to kill its residents and an ensuing standoff with police.
Roloff, who has a lengthy criminal history in western Colorado, started his crime spree Sunday that ultimately involved 14 victims after asking an acquaintance to give him a ride out of town, according to the affidavit.
Roloff looked sweaty when he knocked on Randy Abeyta’s door and said he needed a ride immediately. Abeyta agreed to take him but saw that he had a shotgun and advised Roloff to place it in the trunk. Roloff declined to do so, the affidavit said.
Convenience store frenzy
As they were driving toward Clifton, Roloff loaded the shotgun with three rounds, pointed the gun barrel to Abeyta’s side and instructed him to purchase fuel at the Bradley Sinclair, 3218 F Road. Roloff followed Abeyta into the store to pay for fuel and back to the vehicle when Abeyta said he forgot his wallet in the car. Abeyta fled from Roloff when he saw an opportunity, the affidavit said.
Roloff then placed the gun barrel into the side of a man fueling up his vehicle. Roloff demanded the man hand over the car keys, and the man said they were in the vehicle. But when Roloff looked inside the vehicle and didn’t find them, he moved onto another vehicle, the affidavit said. In the meantime, that man ran inside the store, told the clerks about the situation and yelled at Roloff that police were coming, the affidavit said.
After two other victims refused to hand over their car keys, Roloff targeted a woman who was traveling with her mother and her 97-year-old grandmother. The driver had just finished fueling when Roloff approached her, demanded her keys, raised the shotgun and said, “they’re not worth your life,” the affidavit said. The woman grabbed the barrel of the gun and said she didn’t have the keys, that they had fallen behind the seat and he couldn’t take the car because her mother and grandmother were in it. Roloff reached into the vehicle to try to reach the keys and the woman pulled on his backpack to get him out of the car.
“She said she could see her grandma fighting with him in the area of the gear shift,” the affidavit said. The woman then located the keys, ran with them into the store and tossed them on the counter. By the time she returned, the man was walking away.
Roloff then took off north and later entered a duplex at 614B Jackson St. Colorado State Patrol trooper Josh Curtis said he saw the suspect run into the home and told the residents of the home to flee.
“Trooper Curtis reported he heard the door open and close and then heard five shots in rapid succession,” the affidavit said. “He did not think it was a shotgun, as the gunfire was too rapid for the racking of shotgun shells. Trooper Curtis reported he felt something pass over his head, possibly from the bush, then saw what he believed to be paint chips from the front door on the hood of the truck. ... He retreated to his position until SWAT arrived.”
In an interview with police after being arrested, Roloff said he thought law officers from around the Western Slope and lawyers “were in on trying to take him out.” He told police he last slept for a couple hours five days ago and that he had been off his medications for three weeks. He denied using illegal drugs but said he had been drinking vodka over the past couple days “to even out the emotional ups and downs,” the affidavit said.
Roloff has six prior felony convictions and two pending felony cases from Moffat and Mesa counties. He was arrested July 14, 2010, on charges including car theft, second-degree burglary and damaging property. He’s been in and out of prison in Colorado four times since 1999 and was discharged from parole on April 18, according to state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti.
Roloff was facing habitual criminal charges in Moffat County for stealing a vehicle, criminal mischief and second-degree burglary, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. He was slated to go to trial on those charges in October.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he will seek habitual criminal charges against Roloff. His department also may seek attempted murder charges.
Roloff was advised in court Monday that he could be charged with eight counts of menacing with a deadly weapon, five counts of second-degree kidnapping, three counts of attempted aggravated robbery and single counts of first-degree assault, attempted first-degree motor vehicle theft, first-degree burglary and first-degree criminal trespass.
Roloff gave police his current address as a post office box in Roosevelt, Utah. He appeared in a jail booking shot with a patch on his left eye, an aide he often wears because he has a false eye, officials said.
Hautzinger said he was pleased with law enforcement’s handling of the standoff and that they showed great restraint to end the standoff peacefully without any injuries or death.
Roloff will formally be advised of the charges against him during a hearing July 26.