“Violent crime rates are rising and violence in schools is still occurring. According to an FBI report, Colorado is in the top 5 states for active shooter incidents in 2021. The following case shows what happens when the legislature reduces law enforcement’s ability to arrest violent offenders and subsequently the District Attorney’s Office’s ability to hold those criminals accountable for their behavior. The recent change to the Possession of a Weapon By a Previous Offender law made it possible for numerous felons to again be in possession of firearms. Although still illegal federally, a person who completed their sentence for committing murder 11 years ago can now have a firearm according to Colorado law. This did not occur prior to the legislative change. We cannot ask law enforcement to reduce violent crime while the legislature allows convicted felons to again possess firearms. We are doing our part, now we need others to do theirs” Chief Vasquez stated.
Two adults were also taken into custody including Evan Hill, who is suspected of soliciting for child prostitution and providing a handgun to a juvenile among other charges. April Beese was charged with providing a handgun to a juvenile, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possessions of weapons by previous offenders.
Police provided the following details to the public on the case:
From December of 2021, through July of 2022, Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) detectives with the Strategic Investigations Unit (SIU), investigated a pattern of crimes committed by a group of juvenile offenders, affiliated with a local gang known as “P-Block.” The investigation began in December of 2021 when SIU detectives, while working in an undercover capacity were contacted via social media by one of the suspects. Due to the suspect’s age, he will only be referred to as “Suspect 1.”
Suspect 1 already had an extensive and violent arrest history which included robbery, menacing and motor vehicle theft, and when he contacted SIU detectives, he solicited them to assist him in the overnight burglary of a gun store, for the purpose of stealing firearms. Suspect 1 identified the location he intended to burglarize and requested detectives provide him with a firearm and glass breaking tool.
On December 21, 2021, a meeting was arranged for detectives to provide the burglary tools at which time Suspect 1 was intercepted and arrested for the Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Burglary. During his arrest, Suspect 1 was also found in possession of a handgun. Suspect 1 was subsequently released on bond and after his release, he failed to appear for court.
On January 31, 2022, Suspect 1, along with two additional juveniles, identified as “Suspect 2″ and “Suspect 3,” drove to a school fight near Panorama Middle School, pointed multiple firearms at a group of sixth graders and threatened to kill them. Further investigation revealed a fourth juvenile suspect, “Suspect 4,” had arranged for the menacing incident at Panorama Middle School by staging the fight and planning on an armed confrontation.
On February 1, 2022, Suspect 1 and Suspect 3, engaged in an attempted carjacking from a residential driveway. During this incident, Suspect 1 and Suspect 3 attempted to steal a vehicle and when they were confronted by the owner, Suspect 1 pointed a firearm at the owner and threatened to kill him.
On February 8, 2022, a CSPD Motors Unit officer observed the stolen vehicle and attempted to perform a traffic stop. The vehicle fled, eluding the officer. Evidence later recovered during the investigation revealed Suspect 1 and Suspect 3 recorded themselves fleeing from the traffic stop and that they pointed a handgun at the officer as they fled.
On March 1, 2022, SIU Detectives located Suspect 3, and took him into custody for an outstanding warrant. Suspect 3 was already a convicted felon and when he was arrested, he was found in possession of a shotgun.
On March 8, 2022, Suspect 1 and Suspect 2 were also arrested for outstanding warrants and were found in possession of a stolen handgun. This handgun was later determined to be the same handgun used during the menacing at Panorama Middle School.
Following the arrest of the suspects, SIU detectives prepared numerous search warrants and performed an extensive follow up investigation. During that time SIU detectives uncovered evidence showing Suspect 3 had been involved in an incident where he fired shots into his neighbor’s house on January 15, 2022. Suspect 2 and Suspect 3 were also found to have been involved in another vehicular eluding incident on January 27, 2022, when they fled from a traffic stop.
Other evidence revealed Suspects 1, 2 and 3, were also involved in a motor vehicle theft on February 27, 2022, as well as eight other incidents where they fired shots into the air and in the direction of moving vehicles and occupied houses across town between February and March of 2022.
Laboratory testing revealed the stolen handgun recovered from Suspects 1 and 2 on March 8, 2022, had been used during an unsolved attempted murder on January 21, 2022, the victim of which had not been identified. SIU Detectives were able to identify and contact the victim. Follow up revealed Suspect 2 and Suspect 3 had attempted to rob the victim and when the victim tried to flee, the suspects fired into the victim’s car. The suspects then drove ahead of the victim and ambushed them by firing into their car again when the victim got stuck in traffic. The victim was grazed by a bullet during the attack.
Investigative follow up continued, during which time detectives learned of several adult suspects who had assisted the juveniles by providing and assisting them in acquiring firearms, providing transportation, concealing, and tampering with evidence, and helping them avoid police detection.
One of these suspects, 35-year-old Evan Hill, was contacted by undercover SIU detectives. Believing the detectives to be juveniles, Hill solicited the detectives to engage in child prostitution and agreed to provide them with handguns and narcotics in exchange for sex.
On July 15, 2022, a warrant was served in the 200 Block of Longfellow Drive. During the service of the warrant, Hill was located and arrested. Detectives recovered six firearms, two of which were stolen and one which was defaced.