Twin Tells Tale of Rampage in Colorado, attempt to Steal Patrol Car
CANON CITY, Colo. - One of the twin brothers accused of fatally
shooting a Fremont County sheriff’s deputy over the weekend claims
his brother did the shooting as the two escaped the patrol car
taking them to jail.
Joel and Michael Stovall, 24, were being held without bail in the
Pueblo County Jail on charges of first-degree murder. The twins
were accused of the fatal shooting of Deputy Jason Schwartz, 26,
as he transported them to jail after a family disturbance.
The incident began Friday night when Schwartz and another deputy
confronted a hostile group of family members as they answered a
call that someone had shot and killed a dog at the home of the
Stovalls’ grandmother in Penrose.
The twins were quickly placed in the patrol car and Schwartz
departed to take them to jail in Canon City around 8:30 p.m.,
according Fremont County Sheriff Ivan Middlemiss.
According to Joel Stovall’s statement, his brother freed
himself from his handcuffs with a key he had hidden on himself.
Schwartz radioed to dispatch that one of the brothers had gotten
free of his handcuffs.
Joel Stovall told investigators that Michael Stovall
then shot out the right rear window of the patrol car,
leaned through it, pointed the gun into the right front
window at Schwartz and ordered him to stop.
Joel described Deputy Schwartz attempting to draw his
duty firearm, causing Michael to fire the 9mm handgun a
number of times through the right front passenger window,
shooting Deputy Schwartz in the right side of the head,
a court affidavit said.
Schwartz lost control of the patrol car and it rolled down
and embankment. The brothers attempted to steal the patrol
car, but it was stuck in mud. They walked to a trailer park
in Florence, where they broke into a trailer and stole several
assault rifles and pistols.
Joel Stovall said as the brothers were hijacking a pickup,
a patrol car with two Florence officers drove by Joel said
he opened fire, trying to hit the officer in the head, the
Officer Toby Bethel was struck in the back, shoulder and arm.
He was listed in critical condition Tuesday at St. Anthony
Central Hospital, although the hospital spokeswoman said
he had stabilized since he was admitted.
Joel Stovall said the brothers then fled in the stolen pickup,
Joel driving and Michael in the back acting as the rear gunner,
firing an assault rifle at pursuing police cars.
When police spike strips punctured the tires of the truck,
the brothers abandoned the vehicle and fled into the mountains
around Salida. Joel Stovall said there they discussed their
options, whether to hike toward Mexico or to try to commandeer
a police car along U.S. 50 because it would be easier to get
through police road blocks with it, the affidavit said.
They emerged from a creek bed just outside Salida and met
three officers from the State Parks Department and the
Division of Wildlife. The officers, one of which was a former
former Green Beret and another an ex-Marine, were waiting for
the twins with high-powered hunting rifles.
Joel said that he and Michael made a decision to give up
instead of shooting the officers, the affidavit stated.
The twins have an Oct. 24 court date for formal filing of charges.