Suspects nabbed following pursuit, search


Staff Writer

Shawn-Wester-1 Sawn Wester

Two suspects were apprehended in the last week in connection with a pursuit and search that began Jan. 2.

The search for the suspects involved special teams and air support from two Colorado counties and one New Mexico county.

According to Capt. Adrian Driscoll of the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), a trooper initiated a pursuit on a vehicle with a trailer at approximately 5:26 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, in the area of Forest Service Road 620 (First Notch Road) in western Archuleta County.

The pursuit was terminated 15 to 20 minutes later, Driscoll said, at the intersection of Forest Service roads 620 and 133 (Beaver Circle).

A La Plata County Sheriff’s Office (LPCSO) press release identified the vehicle as an SUV.

During the incident, the small trailer being towed by the SUV was detached and set ablaze in the middle of the road to create a roadblock, the press release stated. The trailer held containers of ammunition and other items.

That night, the sole residence in the area was secured and a ground and air search of the area began, running until about 1 a.m., Driscoll said. That search included authorities from CSP, Archuleta and La Plata counties, and a helicopter from the San Juan County, N.M. Sheriff’s Office.

The search picked up again the following day, Friday, Jan. 3.

On Friday, the SUV was found burned over a mile away from the trailer.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m. that same day, 28-year-old Vernon Mott, of Alamosa, was apprehended with the help of the helicopter, state CSP personnel confirmed.

Mott was treated for frostbite and hypothermia, interviewed by CSP, and released.

The days following offered little in the way of progress as authorities searched for a second suspect.

Then, Sunday night, the LPCSO apprehended the second suspect in Bayfield while completing follow-up work on the case.

That suspect, Shawn Wester, 35, of Pagosa Springs, was found in a camper trailer in a storage area in the Homestead Trails subdivision in Bayfield.

When apprehended, Wester was in possession of a handgun. The identification number had been removed from the gun, the press release stated.

Wester was arrested for possession of a defaced firearm; possession of a weapon by a previous offender; and first-degree criminal trespass.

He was being held on a $5,000 bond at the La Plata County Detention Center in Durango as of Monday.

Calls to CSP seeking an update on the incident were not returned by press time Wednesday.