An extensive crime spree spanning several hours and hitting multiple locations on the east side of Colorado Springs ended in an arrest.
Family members of the suspect tell 11 News they are concerned mental problems, which they say have been evaluated but not yet diagnosed, may be the root cause behind the episode. The suspect's father tells 11 News that 25-year-old Dustin Gartner is a veteran of the Air Force, honorably discharged, and has never before done anything like what he has been accused of.
It all began just after 11 a.m. Friday on the 1900 block of East Fountain, where the suspect allegedly stole a blue Ford Probe. One hour later, police were called to a home almost 11 miles away, where a man reportedly rammed a blue Probe into a garage on the 7100 block of Montarbor to break into the home. Police now had a description of the suspect: a tall, thin, white male; further investigation led them to believe it was Dustin.
An hour after the burglary on Montarbor, police were called to Escapardo Way, five miles south of Montarbor, on a carjacking. Police say the suspect, now believed to be Dustin, left the stolen Probe in the street and forced the driver of a red Ford Mustang to hand over the vehicle. After carjacking the Mustang, police say the suspect drove to the Best Buy on 7675 North Academy and shoplifted merchandise from the store.
Dustin's father called police at 4:16 p.m. to report seeing his son driving the stolen Mustang on Pony Tracks Drive, located on the far east side of town between Powers and Marksheffel.
According to Mark Gartner, his son saw him when driving by, and immediately turned around and got out of the Mustang. Clearly agitated, Mark says Dustin did hand over the keys to the Mustang, but then shortly thereafter tried getting back into the car. Unable to drive away, Dustin sprinted off instead, leaving the area before officers arrived.
No other incidents occurred for several hours, then officers got a break in the case when calls began coming into the Police Department around 10:30 p.m. reporting a man matching Dustin's description knocking on doors in the area of Afternoon and Chelton, only a couple of miles from where the crime spree began. Police were able to find Dustin and arrest him.
According to Mark, his son's demeanor began changing a couple of months ago as he appeared to suffer from some sort of mental problem. Dustin was hospitalized last weekend, according to his father, but then discharged Monday without his parents' knowledge. Still seeking answers, Mark said he and Dustin's mother had scheduled an appointment with the VA for Friday and were trying to keep him home Thursday night, but Dustin managed to get away.
Dustin has been charged with motor vehicle theft, burglary, robbery and theft. He's currently being held at the CJC on a $10,000 bond. Mark says he intends for his son to stay there so he can be properly evaluated.