The profile picture on Jacob Vanderbeek's Facebook page portrays a goofy young man with an obvious sense of humor -- and there's a certain cheek about his actions of July 14 as described by the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
Too bad they led to a high-speed car chase that ended with his death.
According to the LCSO, the Vanderbeek incident began benignly enough, with a deputy attempting to pull over the Leadville resident for a traffic violation. But Vanderbeek rabbited, and after a short chase, the deputy chose to write up an arrest warrant rather than allowing the situation to escalate.
Apparently, though, Vanderbeek had something else in mind. A white car appeared outside the sheriff's office, with its driver repeatedly honking his horn. When deputies and members of the Leadville Police Department stepped outside, Vanderbeek jumped back into the vehicle and took off again, inaugurating Chase Number Two.
It gets weirder. A short time later, Vanderbeek allegedly stopped his vehicle and got out, holding in his hand what appeared to be a grenade, which he promptly dropped in favor of a handgun.
Law enforcers responded by opening fire, but none of their bullets found their target -- not yet anyhow. That allowed Vanderbeek to get back into the car for Chase Number Three.
This one lasted a while. The LCSO says Vanderbeek headed south on Highway 24 toward Buena Vista, whose officers subsequently took over the pursuit. As such, they were watching as Vanderbeek began driving on the wrong side of the highway directly into oncoming traffic, the LCSO notes.
Next destination, Poncha Springs and beyond. Then, over the Poncha pass just north of Villa Grove, the Colorado State Patrol, yet another agency to leap into the fray, used a tactical vehicle intervention maneuver that finally forced Vanderbeek to stop. When he emerged from the passenger compartment, he once again appeared to have a gun in his hand, prompting a shot from a Buena Vista police officer. This one proved fatal.
In all, the chase covered about eighty miles across three counties -- Lake, Chaffee and Saguache -- and engaged six different law enforcement organizations. Speeds are said to have topped 100 miles per hour. And that hand grenade he tossed? It was inert.
Now, the only question left is "Why?" If there's an answer to that question, we haven't found it yet -- leaving us to try in vain to connect the events of this past weekend with the silly Facebook photo of a guy with his tongue sticking out.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Christian Valdez's dad on how minor pot offenses led to son's 'execution.'"
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.