Rio Blanco sheriff hurt in stabbing
A 19-year-old teen with a history of mental issues was taken into custody Thursday after allegedly stabbing Rio Blanco County Sheriff Si Woodruff, who was seriously injured but is expected to make a full recovery.
Logan Piper of Meeker was taken to the Rio Blanco County Jail after the altercation, which occurred in the parking lot of Pioneers Medical Center in Meeker. According to an arrest affidavit, it occurred after Piper’s mother brought him to the hospital for treatment. The affidavit said Piper sprayed pepper spray at Woodruff before stabbing him.
Woodruff initially was admitted to Pioneers Medical Center, but then was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
The Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page Friday that he underwent surgery to repair the wound Thursday night at St. Mary’s.
“Today we are happy to report that he is doing good following the surgery. He is expected to make a full recovery. Sheriff Woodruff is expected to be discharged from the hospital in the very near future and be able to return to his home in Meeker. …” said the Facebook posting, which received dozens of comments by people wishing Woodruff well.
Woodruff is finishing his 12th year as sheriff and is retiring in January. He is a former Meeker police chief, where he was hired as an officer in 1977.
Anthony Mazzola, who worked as an investigator for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, is the sheriff-elect after winning a Republican primary.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said he visited Woodruff at St. Mary’s.
“He was conscious and laughing,” Vallario said.
He said Woodruff was stabbed in the abdomen, but fortunately no vital organs were damaged.
Piper was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer and first-degree assault, but a decision by prosecutors on formal charges is pending, 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia said.
According to the arrest affidavit, written by Brooks Bennett of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Meeker Police Chief Bob Hervey told Bennett that Woodruff requested assistance shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday at the hospital.
There, Piper’s father said the teen’s mother was bringing him to the hospital for mental issues.
Not wanting to escalate the situation, Hervey and Woodruff waited inside the hospital, but hospital personnel later told them Piper and his father were struggling in the parking lot, the affidavit said.
Woodruff went outside and tried to grab Piper as he backed away from his father, but Piper sprayed at him with pepper spray. Woodruff continued to grab at Piper, and Hervey saw him thrust a knife at Woodruff with his right hand, after which Woodruff turned around, opened his shirt and revealed what appeared to Hervey to be a “severe wound,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit said Piper then ran down a hill to another parking lot and was surrounded by officers, and Hervey fired a Taser at him that missed.
Officers then talked Piper into throwing his knife away, and Piper was arrested after he smoked a cigarette.
The affidavit said that while he was in a Colorado State Patrol car, Piper repeatedly expressed remorse for what he had done, and that in jail he seemed agitated but admitted to Bennett numerous times that he had stabbed Woodruff.
Bennett wrote in the affidavit that law enforcement is “very familiar” with Piper, who is a client of the Mind Springs Health mental health clinic and is supposed to take prescription drugs for mental issues. Officers told Bennett that Piper’s behavior was consistent with how people say he acts when not taking that medicine.
The affidavit also said a Rio Blanco jail lieutenant who knows Piper’s mother reported that she has said Piper talks about situations that aren’t real, such as people following him. Piper’s mother and officers also say that he uses marijuana, it said.
Undersheriff Michael Joos, who lost to Mazzola in the recent primary, will oversee the Sheriff’s Office during Woodruff’s recovery.