Update: We previously told you about the reports of people with long guns that shut down C-470 Monday evening right before a OneRepublic concert at Red Rocks; see our previous coverage below. Now, law enforcers say the incident was caused by a homeless man, Travis Johnson (accompanied by a woman, Gabrielle Shirk), who said he was armed, then claimed to have seen others who were. Moreover, what was reported as a third related arrest at the giant Tipsy's Liquor World outlet appears not to have been related at all. Continue for the weird details.
According to 9News, Johnson and Shirk had been camping beneath an overpass at C-470 and Bowles, since August 24 but had briefly left their campsite on Monday -- and upon their return, they found two Jefferson County deputies and a ranger dismantling the site.
At that point, Johnson allegedly claimed, "I got guns on you," causing the authorities to scatter and call in for backup while Johnson and Shirk took cover.
The latter two were reportedly found at around 5:55 p.m. after a 45 minute search. But the situation wasn't over yet: 9News maintains that at least one member of the couple then said they'd seen two other people with guns in the vicinity, causing the search to drag on for considerably longer.
C-470 wasn't reopened until after 7 p.m., with the blockade causing huge backups in either direction and delaying many a OneRepublic fan.
As for Johnson and Shirk, they'd apparently been drinking -- and indeed, their campsite was only a short distance from Tipsy's, among the largest liquor stores in the State of Colorado. 9News had quoted deputies as revealing that an arrest at Tipsy's appeared to have been related to the shutdown incident, but no one's saying that now.
Meanwhile, 7News states that Johnson and Shirk had only been homeless for a short time -- and Shirk still has an active Facebook page featuring the following photo:
The page lists her as having previously worked at a local hotel.
The pair's records include past jail time and probation, but it doesn't appear Shirk was charged this time around -- at least not at last report. Johnson, for his part, is facing a felony menacing beef. And while the sheriff's office is saying sorry for delaying highway travelers, there are apologies for the closure, which was ordered out of an abundance of caution, not knowing if Johnson's assorted tales were true.
Here are full-size booking photos for Johnson and Shirk, followed by our previous coverage.
Continue for our previous coverage of the C-470 closure incident, including additional photos and a video. Original post, 6:34 a.m. September 2: It was a bizarre scene whose timing couldn't have been worse. Toward the end of the Labor Day holiday weekend, with thousands of concert-goers streaming into the area in order to catch a Red Rocks show headlined by OneRepublic, law enforcers from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office shut down C-470 near the Bowles intersection on a report of armed shooters with long guns. In the end, no such weapons were found and no shots reportedly fired, but the JCSO confirms that two people were taken into custody -- and a report maintains that a third arrest at nearby Tipsy's Liquor World may be connected. Additional photos, a video, an interactive graphic and more below.
We featured Tipsy's Liquor World in one of the first-ever Latest Word blogs. In a piece from June 2008 about the operation becoming a favorite Colorado State Patrol speed-trap spot, we described it as "87,000 square feet of huge -- a veritable booze resort" whose decor featured "a series of mannequins outfitted like customers, security guards and so on, and they're so ultra-realistic, with blue eyes that glisten and twinkle in the light, that folks who've already had a few before dropping by are likely to lose their shit at the sight of them."
Here's an interactive graphic showing Tipsy's from a C-470 vantage point. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
As for last night's incident, which got underway around 6 p.m., Fox31 reveals that it was prompted by word of armed suspects with "long rifles" along a ridge overlooking the highway.
The JCSO promptly closed the highway near the Bowles exit, causing jumbo backups in either direction. Among those delayed were those traveling to the OneRepublic gig at Red Rocks from many locations south of the venue.
Deputies fanned out on the hillside with their own guns drawn, as seen in this 9News pic:
The situation didn't take long to deescalate. At 6:26 p.m., the sheriff's office tweeted the following:
C470/Bowles closed as precautionary. Conflicting info. No #JCSO deputies pinned down. Guns maybe BB guns. 2 in custody.
— Jeffco Sheriff (@jeffcosheriffco) September 2, 2014
In subsequent Twitter exchanges, the JCSO confirmed that no one had either been shot or shot at, prompting one person to imply that the reaction was overblown. Here's that tweet and the JCSO response:
— Jeffco Sheriff (@jeffcosheriffco) September 2, 2014
Subsequent JCSO tweets pointed out that a man and a woman were in custody on suspicion of menacing, but "details concerning type of menacing still be sorted out."
Meanwhile, 9News' Jessica Oh tweeted the following:
— Jessica Oh (@Jessica9NEWS) September 2, 2014
Thus far, the JCSO hasn't tweeted about the Tipsy's arrest or whether it's got a connection to the other arrests. Meanwhile, deputies reopened C-470 shortly after 7 p.m., a few minutes prior to the OneRepublic show's listed 7:30 p.m. start time -- in case Ryan Tedder was wondering why the crowd was so late in arriving.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Look below to see a brief 7News video about the incident.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.