It could be, and probably is, just a coincidence. But mere weeks after Colorado Department of Corrections executive director Tom Clements was gunned down at his door (presumed killer Evan Ebel is also suspected of murdering pizza-delivery man Nathan Leon), and days since the second of two Texas prosecutors was slain by intruders, a man ID'd as Michigan's Joshua Stevens was shot dead after breaking into the residence of a Grand County deputy and prosecutor. The weird details are below.
Shortly before midnight on April 1, according to Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the First Judicial District Attorney's Office, which was asked to assist in the case (along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation) at the request of Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey, Grand County officers were called to the 500 block of Grand Avenue in Hot Sulphur Springs after a woman dialed 911. She said a man was at her front door "behaving very erratically and causing a disturbance."
Shortly thereafter, shots were fired.
The woman's name has not been made public, but she's said to serve as a deputy district attorney in the Fourteenth Judicial District. She's married to a Grand County Sheriff's deputy. Both are said to have suffered minor injuries during an altercation with the man, who law enforcers found dead upon their arrival.
The man was subsequently identified as Joshua Lee Stevens, a 32 year old from Coral Springs, Michigan. Investigators believe he had been in town for about a week, and had been looking for work.
The residence in question is the former Riverside Hotel, which is described like so on the Historic Hotels of the Rockies website:
This fine small hotel is close and waiting for a new innkeeper to take good care of it and the delightful guests that stay here. The Historic Riverside Hotel, located on the banks of the Colorado River in Hot Sulphur Springs, CO, was built in 1903 to meet the lodging demands of travelers who arrived daily at the newly constructed train depot. These travelers were after the same thing in 1903 as they are today -- a relaxing soak in the adjacent hot springs, a good meal and a restful nights' sleep. The Historic Riverside -- renovated in 2008 but still possessing its authentic turn of the century charm -- provides its guests with 14 elegantly appointed, uniquely individual guest rooms, The River Room Restaurant, one of Grand County's finest and The Jayhawk Bar, an authentic 1895 Brunswick Bar.
The reference to the need of an innkeeper is a bit out of date. As 7News reports, the prosecutor and the deputy purchased the venue and converted it into their home.
Is it possible Stevens was simply trying to rent a room at what he thought was a hotel and events spun out of control? No doubt this question will be explored during the investigation that follows -- as will Stevens's criminal record, which features convictions on matters that range from fairly minor to a bit more serious.
He's said to have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor retail fraud in Michigan circa 2002, earning a 75 day stay in jail. And he spent a year behind bars after a 2008 conviction in Florida for evading police by car.
Another question for investigators: Could the Stevens incident be related to the killings of Clements, as well as Texas prosecutors Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland (who was shot down along with his wife, Cynthia)? As you'll recall, possible white-supremacy links have been cited in each of these cases. At this time, however, the First Judicial District's Russell stresses that there is no known connection.
In the meantime, the Grand County prosecutor and the deputy have been placed on administrative leave pending an inquiry into what happened after Stevens showed up at their door.
Look below to see a 7News report about the incident, followed by a larger look at Stevens's most recent booking photo.
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More from our Follow That Story archive: "Mike McLelland second Texas prosecutor killed in two months: Tom Clements murder link?"