Rifle cop yelled, ‘Shots fired!’
A Rifle police officer says the shattering of a rear window of a vehicle driven by an escaped Arizona convict was the first indication he had been shot at while trying to pull the man over early Sunday morning.
He said he saw the window break while following the vehicle down the eastbound off-ramp of the main Interstate 70 exit in Rifle.
“I heard objects striking my vehicle. I further observed that the driver was turned around and pointing something at me. I screamed ‘Shots fired! Shots fired!’ into the radio. I knew I was being shot at,” officer William Van Teylingen said.
His account is contained in an arrest affidavit for Daniel Renwick, 36, a convicted murderer who was one of three prisoners who escaped from an Arizona prison Friday. The other two remained at large Monday.
Van Teylingen arrested Renwick after using his patrol car to ram Renwick’s vehicle after the shooting.
Renwick, who is being held in Garfield County Jail, waived advisement of charges Monday, acting through Tina Fang, a public defender appointed Monday to represent him. He faces fugitive charges in Arizona and local felony charges of criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder, vehicular eluding, and possession of weapons by a previous offender.
District Court Judge Gail Nichols set a bond of $2.5 million for the local charges.
“In reality I don’t think it matters much” because Renwick is on a no-bond hold in connection with the Arizona case, she said.
Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Pototsky had asked for a $5 million bond. Fang suggested that was grandstanding by the DA’s office.
Pototksy said after Monday’s proceedings, “He was in a … prison in Arizona and escaped and we think he took a shot at a police officer. He’s very dangerous in our opinion.”
Pototsky said he expects the DA’s office will seek to prosecute Renwick on the local charges before he faces prosecution in Arizona.
Renwick’s arrest came after Garfield County sheriff’s deputy Evan Jaramillo spotted him acting suspiciously.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis said deputies have been keeping an eye out for suspicious activity in rural areas because of a rise in thefts and burglaries.
Renwick caught Jaramillo’s eye while driving down a drainage from a construction site in the Rulison area, McGinnis said. The deputy then almost had to stop on Interstate 70 to get Renwick to pass him so he could check his vehicle plate, she said.
Jaramillo confirmed through a license plate check that the 2004 Chevrolet Blazer that Renwick was driving might be connected to the escaped prisoners. Renwick stopped at a parking lot at the Rocky Mountain Baptist Church near the west Rifle I-70 exit and turned off his lights, authorities say.
According to the affidavit, as sheriff’s deputies and police were preparing a plan to apprehend what they considered to be a dangerous suspect, Renwick drove back onto eastbound I-70.
Van Teylingen spotted the Blazer and followed it at speeds not exceeding 70 mph, but Renwick didn’t pull over when the officer activated his siren and emergency lights, Van Teylingen said.
After being shot at, he followed the vehicle through the roundabouts at the interstate exit and onto Taughenbaugh Boulevard and saw the driver turn into the parking lot at the Red River Quick Mart and Red River Inn, the affidavit said.
“Given the obvious disregard for human life demonstrated by the driver and continuing threat such a subject posed to public safety I … determined that the most appropriate course of action would be to incapacitate the suspect vehicle,” Van Teylingen wrote.
He drove his car into the rear quarter panel on the driver’s side of the Blazer.
The impact activated the patrol car’s airbag, making it hard to steer, and it struck a sedan in the parking lot, Van Teylingen said. The Blazer came to rest against another vehicle.
When Van Teylingen got out he saw a man lying on the ground at the rear of the patrol car, and pointed his rifle at the man while other officers secured the vehicle.
He said no other occupants were found in the vehicle, and sheriff’s deputies saw Renwick exit the driver’s seat and saw no one else leave the vehicle.
Police say no one was injured in the incident.
Van Teylingen said he saw a small, semi-circular hole consistent with a bullet hole in the headlight of his vehicle, and a black rifle in the front seat of the Blazer.
Authorities say the search continues for Tracy Province, 42, who was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and John McCluskey, 45, serving 15 years for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm.
They believe Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, is aiding in their escape.
They say they have no information suggesting Province and McCluskey are in Colorado. KRWG in Las Cruces, N.M., reported Monday that authorities there think there’s a remote chance Province might head there because he has relatives in the area.
Authorities previously had thought the three might be in a silver 2002 Volkswagen Jetta, but say they no longer are seeking that vehicle in connection with the case.
Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson said he could provide no further details about why the vehicle no longer is being sought.
Renwick was serving consecutive 22-year sentences for the murders of a father and his daughter in Arizona.
At Monday’s hearing, Nichols rejected a request by The Daily Sentinel and KREX to be allowed to take photos and video of Renwick’s court appearance.
Fang had argued the increased publicity could make it hard to seat an impartial jury, and Nichols found a “reasonable likelihood” that using cameras in the courtroom could harm Renwick’s right to a fair trial.
She said her decision was based in part on the severity of the charges and possible penalties, and her concern about not jeopardizing an out-of-state case with which she was not familiar.
Pototsky had argued potential jurors wouldn’t have been influenced by the use of cameras and resulting media coverage.
“I don’t think that there’s a worry or a cause for that,” he said.