In recent months, we've written a number of times about what's known as "suicide by cop."
Representatives of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office use this term in relation to nineteen-year-old Pueblo resident Chris Chacanaca, and if they're right, it's a very strange example of the phenomenon — one that involved a crazy car chase and an alleged attempt to kill multiple pursuers by running them over.
The MCSO's account of what happens is decidedly vivid. Note that the first badge-wearer to go after Chacanaca was a deputy from tiny Log Lane Village with the Old West-ready name Dusty Quick.
At around 5:10 p.m. on Saturday, August 1, the MCSO reveals, deputy Quick reported to Morgan County communications that he was in pursuit of a red car on Highway 6 north of interstate 76 in the vicinity of Hillrose.
Here's a bird's eye view of Hillrose, to give you an indication of just how wide-open the area is....
...as well as a street-level view captured in an interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View on Google Maps."
Oh yeah: Quick also told the operator that the car, piloted by Quick, was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour and was "driving into oncoming traffic."
Other agencies got involved shortly thereafter, including members of the Brush Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol.
An officer with the BPD wasn't quite able to put stop sticks down near exit 92 on the interstate before Chacanaca blew past him — and as a state trooper was putting some of the items in place about six miles further down the road, at exit 86, the teen tried to hit him, the MCSO maintains.
Fortunately, the trooper wasn't injured — but neither was the incident over.
Quick and two other members of the sheriff's office were subsequently able to catch up with Chacanaca, whose car had suffered a flat tire. They then attempted to box him in near the intersection of Interstate 76 and Barlow Road.
Here's a look at that area:
At that point, Chacanaca is said to have swerved in the direction of the two sheriff's office staffers. But rather than opening fire, they used what's described as a "pursuit invention technique" to bring the car to a halt once and for all.
The damage didn't end there, however. An accident took place in the wake of the chase — no one was injured — and sparks thrown by the rim of Chacanaca's car as it chattered across the pavement started a small grass fire that had to be doused by the Fort Morgan Fire Department.
Meanwhile, Chacanaca was forcibly removed from the vehicle and taken into custody, where he was booked on suspicion of attempted second-degree murder, attempted vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, vehicular eluding and more.
The MCSO cites reports that "indicate Chacanaca was possibly attempting to commit 'suicide by cop,'" and in a conversation with the Fort Morgan Times, Morgan County Sheriff Jim Crone admitted to being mystified by the suspect's actions.
"Unfortunately we get these chases fairly often," he said. "They can be anything from fugitives to stolen cars. Then there's this guy. He was not wanted, he just kind of lost his mind and went on a rampage. There were no obvious signs of impairment by drugs or alcohol.
"This one was kind of bizarre, more because of the accidents that happened afterward," he added. "It sounds like there was a chain reaction."
Here's a wider-angle look at Chacanaca's booking photo.Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.