Suspect caught near Mack; 2nd man sought in Fruita robbery

Mesa County deputies look for suspects.

Residents of the sagebrush-covered hills north of Mack were advised to lock their doors and keep their eyes peeled for a Hispanic male in his 20s, wearing dark clothing, after police arrested his suspected accomplice in two vehicle thefts and an armed robbery.

A search by several law enforcement agencies ended when a man was apprehended by police before dark in a muddy creek bed. No information about him was released Monday night.

Authorities believe the second man was armed, said spokeswoman Heather Benjamin of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

Residents were advised not pick up hitchhikers in the area and to call 911 for any suspicious activity.

The incident started about 4 p.m. when an black pickup was stolen from the parking lot of the Fruita Community Center. Fruita police later recovered the truck.

A short while later, one person in a white Dodge Nitro SUV was robbed at gunpoint at a Fruita gas station. The suspects sped off in the vehicle, Benjamin said.

Police pursued the Dodge into Utah and then back into Colorado after the vehicle returned east on Interstate 70. The Dodge exited the interstate at Mack and went north on 10 Road before it was abandoned at R Road, where the road heads to Baxter Pass. The suspects fled.

Marlo Lovoi was at City Market in Fruita when she heard about the incidents. She and her 5-year-old daughter, Faith, along with several other nearby residents, were stopped from heading home on 10 Road as police scoured the area.

Lovoi said she used her cell phone to call her husband, who was at home with their other children. She said her husband said that police located one of the suspects in a ditch by their house.

“There isn’t going to be anybody breaking in,” she said, comforting Faith. “There are so many cops around here, nothing’s happening to daddy or anybody.”

The Sheriff’s Department used its SWAT vehicle, called the Bearcat, to search for the suspects. Police hauled out lighting powered by a generator.

Just before 8 p.m., police had walked one suspect out of the sagebrush to an ambulance. Benjamin said the suspect had lost his shoes while running from police and was cold as temperatures plummeted.

Police were working Monday night on setting up a perimeter to catch the other suspect.

A clerk at Go-Fer Food Store, 1041 U.S. Highway 6&50, where the Dodge was taken, said although there were three employees working Monday afternoon, none witnessed the robbery.

A woman visiting from out of state had prepaid $40 to fill up the tank, and the tank was filled when she went inside the store to use the restroom. When the woman returned, she found out her passenger had been held up at gunpoint and that the vehicle had been stolen, the clerk said.


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