In March, Charles “Gage” Lorentz died after being shot twice by a national parks ranger in New Mexico.
Seven months later, his family is demanding justice for what they call an unjust killing of a Western Slope man.
About 30 people gathered in the parking lot of Stocker Stadium on Saturday to march along North Avenue to raise awareness of Lorentz’s death.
“People have been supportive, especially because there’s body camera footage showing that Gage didn’t pose a threat,” said Skylar Kerrigan, Lorentz’s youngest sister. “The problem is not enough people know about this.”
The crowd held cardboard signs painted red with thick, white lettering that read, “Demand Accountability, End Qualified Immunity,” “Justice for Gage Lorentz” and “My Brother Did Not Deserve to Die.”
They began at Stocker Stadium, where Lorentz’s mother, Kim Beck, addressed the crowd. She thanked them for showing up and read a letter she sent to lawmakers across the country, detailing the situation and calling for justice.
Lorentz, who graduated from Fruita Monument High School in 2013, was driving home to Montrose after working in oil fields in Texas. He was pulled over in Carlsbad Canyon, New Mexico, for allegedly speeding. Body camera footage shows Lorentz complying with commands.
At one point, the ranger asks Lorentz to turn around, to which Lorentz refuses. Lorentz, who was unarmed, is then asked to take his hands out of his pockets before the ranger points a Taser and appears to fire at him.
After that, 26 seconds of footage are missing. The rest of the video shows the ranger shooting Lorentz. The ranger was late to administer aid to Lorentz, the family says.
“There’s absolutely no accountability for what happened to our son,” Kimberly Beck, Lorentz’s mother, told the crowd. “This could have happened to your family.”
In August, New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said that it would not pursue charges against the ranger, the Associated Press reported.
The announcement left the family angry. Their attorney, Shannon Kennedy, filed a wrongful death claim in June against the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Interior, according to the AP report, and gave the federal government six months to respond.
Meanwhile, the family is still waiting for justice and answers.
“He wasn’t just my brother, he was my best friend,” Kerrigan said. “He always knew how to make you smile, he always found the positive in a situation.”
After the crowd on Saturday marched down North Avenue, they splintered off to occupy the four corners of the intersection at North Avenue and 12th Street. Next to Lorentz’s family was Elaine Maestas, chanting “Justice for Gage.”
Maestas has been walking a similar path as Beck. In 2019, her sister, Elisha Lucero, was shot 21 times by law enforcement officers in Bernalillo County in New Mexico. Maestas and Beck were introduced through Kennedy, their mutual attorney, and have been texting each other. Maestas drove to Grand Junction from Albuquerque to show her support for the family.
“My sister was having a mental health episode; she needed help,” she said. “Gage wasn’t armed. It blows my mind what happened, and there’s no accountability.”
While the crowd chanted at the intersection, a convoy of cars waving flags to show support for President Donald Trump, as well as some sporting Confederate flags and American flags, honked and, on occasion, taunted the crowd.
It was disappointing to Maestas, a Republican and self-described conservative Christian.
“I don’t want to get rid of the police, we need them. But they can’t operate like this anymore, and they need to be held accountable for their actions,” Maestas said. “This hate breaks my heart. This isn’t an ‘us and them’ situation, it’s a ‘we’ situation. We need to come together and recognize that there’s a problem here. Because if there wasn’t a problem here, then Gage wouldn’t be gone. Elisha wouldn’t be gone.”