Quinn Scaggs, a seventeen-year-old inmate at the troubled Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center, is the focus of an ongoing manhunt launched after he was found missing during the early hours of June 25.
Scaggs has been labeled a violent offender, and now we have more details about why. Last fall, according to an insider speaking on the promise of anonymity, the teen brutally attacked a Lookout Mountain staffer who was injured so badly he has not yet been able to come back to the job.
After the assault, Scaggs is said to have stood over the battered body of the employee and asked, "How does it feel to taste your own blood?"
Last week, we catalogued a slew of problematic incidents at the facility, which is designed to provide "an intensive secure treatment program for...male juvenile offenders." Included among them were multiple reports about escapes. We also spoke to a former inmate at Lookout Mountain, who said that assaults and other disruptions were frequent, drugs and sex were far from uncommon, and the system always seemed on the brink of total collapse.
"I would call it out of control," the ex-inmate said. "Very out of control."
The aforementioned insider confirms the accuracy of this portrait. Code reds — the term used to notify security of a staff member being physically confronted by an inmate — were fairly rare at Lookout Mountain a few years ago, the source allows, but over the past year or so, they've become commonplace, often occurring three times a day, thanks in large part to gang activity characterized as rampant.
Against this backdrop, the source maintains that Scaggs, who made headlines in the Colorado Springs area last year after being caught on camera breaking into cars, stood out as one of the most volatile members of the Lookout Mountain population — and his dangerous behavior reached a terrifying peak in October 2018.
The incident took place in the center's library, the insider reveals. Scaggs seemed ready to explode, and the employee, who was much smaller than the teen, tried to de-escalate him. In response, Scaggs allegedly picked the employee off the ground and then started beating him before shoving the man into some metal shelving that ripped open his face along the cheek area and gashed the tearduct in one eye, causing blood to flow and inspiring the remark quoted above.
The employee subsequently underwent several surgeries on his eye and face, but never returned to Lookout Mountain, the source divulges.
Afterward, Scaggs was handcuffed, removed from the environment and placed in isolation for an extended period of time. However, the insider says, he was eventually returned to the general population at Lookout Mountain, which is usually considered the last stop for juvenile offenders. Typically, even the biggest agitators at the facility aren't moved to other centers unless they escape or until they turn eighteen, at which point they can be incarcerated by the Colorado Department of Corrections.
We've reached out to the Division of Youth Services for comment about Scaggs and Lookout Mountain. If and when they get back to us, we'll update this post. However, in last week's post, Anders Jacobson, executive director for the Colorado Division of Youth Services, told us that he could not address specific claims about Lookout Mountain YSC, but spoke in general terms about the facility. In that context, he acknowledged numerous difficulties between staff and inmates and said, "We have found that some of the programming or systems that were put in place over the last year may have led to more differences among gang-affiliated youth."
Jacobson also noted changes he'd made at Lookout Mountain in an attempt to stabilize the situation, including naming a new interim director and reducing the number of inmates by around a third.
Our source says most of the inmates who were moved didn't qualify as violent offenders, leaving behind only "the worst of the worst" — the teens most prone to savagery. By that measure, Scaggs appears to qualify.
The escapee is described as being a 6'2", 160-pound white male with blond hair and blue eyes. His most distinguishing feature is a tattoo above his right eyebrow that reads "Loyalty." If you see him, you're encouraged to immediately dial 911.
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.