Armed man shuts down valley's biggest school

By: Rob Hughes Email
By: Rob Hughes Email

It was a scary situation for hundreds of students.

Grand Junction High School was having a normal school day before students spotted a man with a gun a little before 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The school was locked down, police were called and students waited with little information on what was happening outside.

Anthony Gallegos was in his food science class when it happened.

"We do a lot of drills, like fire drills, and shelter-in-place and lockdown; just figure out what to do in case there was a threat," said Gallegos.

Students weren't sure if this was real or not.

"Nobody was really nervous in my classroom because we thought it was a drill, but everybody still reacted as though it wasn't, just because teachers take it really seriously and stuff; so of course we have to," recalled Gallegos.

As it turns out, a man was riding his bike near the school, sporting a visible weapon.

"His handgun became unconcealed as he was riding his bike, and that's when the student saw it," said Sergeant David Krouse with the Grand Junction Police Department.

The student did the right thing and alerted the authorities.

"Given some of the incidents that have happened around the country at different kinds of locations at schools and hospitals, people just need to be aware that people are on the lookout for any threats, as they should be, and are going to report those; so people need to be extra cautious," warned Krouse.

In Colorado, if you lawfully own a gun, you can carry it on your person; but if you cover it up, you must obtain a valid permit. The man didn't do anything illegal because he had a valid concealed handgun permit.

"The piece here is just good common sense and good judgment," said Lieutenant Phil Stratton with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

According to Stratton, it isn't a good idea to carry a gun near an institution like a school.

"Don't carry a weapon on school grounds. There's really no legitimate reason to. Don't take a gun anywhere that's going to cause undue concern or alarm," said Stratton.

And understand the responsibility of owning a gun.

"It's not to be cool, it's not to look good or for fun; it's a huge responsibility that a lot of people need to realize there's a time and a place," said Stratton.

Wednesday, it was the wrong place and wrong time.

"It turned out that everything was ok, and the police tracked him down, and it wasn't a big deal," said Gallegos.

School District 51 does lockdown drills specifically to prepare students for situations like this, and police encourage you to always report anything suspicious near a school.

Police say if you report an incident in good faith, you aren't doing anything illegal.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Szabla on Sep 1, 2012 at 07:33 PM
    (Don't BS about protecting freedoms against government tyranny or stopping the crimes.) It is obvious you did not serve in the military and take the oath to defend this country with your life if called upon. Many and I have and we will still uphold this oath until we no longer can breathe on our own. If someone enters my house and is unwelcome, I will enact the so-called “Make my day law”. If someone tries to steal my car, I will act and defend my property with the life of the assailant. As an ego boosting item, never, the gun has and always will be a deterrent against the bad guys so to speak. Put a sign outside you house or trailer saying you do not have guns and never will. I dought you are one to give this type of selfless commitment to anyone other than you own egotistical self.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2012 at 09:20 PM in reply to Szabla
      I did give an oath to defend this country I just don't believe buying useless items was included in it. Nobody breaks into my house when I'm in it and I'm not going to take anybody's life if they're trying to steal the property. There's a legitimate process for determining the proper punishment for that and it's usually not death. You take pleasure in taking somebody's life for a disproportional crime, you're the bad guy. If you think carrying a gun is justified in our community then you're delusional.
  • by IdahoMan Location: Idaho on Aug 31, 2012 at 06:37 PM
    "Armed man shuts down valley's biggest school" BS. The paranoid, unthinking officials shut down valley's biggest school.
  • by Astonished on Aug 31, 2012 at 08:34 AM
    Got to love the way things get so blown out of proportion. I do understand being cautious and making sure our "Childern" our cared for...... but do we really need to add Henie Pennie in there screaming the sky is falling. When this whole story should have been put out in a differnt light. We also need to remember, that our children to...... need to understand that it is not a good thing to just cry wolf for a good story.
  • by obama2012 on Aug 31, 2012 at 08:19 AM
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The original purpose of this amendment was for the people to protect themselves for foreign threats (British)not so Billy Bob and Bobbi Sue can run around all willy-nilly with their six guns ablazin! This is not the wild west!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2012 at 10:04 AM in reply to obama2012
      Protection from all totalitarian Governments, including our own Government was the reason for the amendment. That is why the colonists had “military grade weapons”, not just hunting rifles. Use and carrying guns all over was always, until resent history, was allowed. Schools are a perfect place to have a “marksmanship range” and teach the “proper Gun dedicate”. I used to keep my shotgun in my locker so I was able to go hunting after school with my friends and Chemistry teacher. Carrying guns around town is not a big deal for the “normal people” of Grand Junction.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2012 at 11:47 AM in reply to
        Except in modern age guns (even military grade) are pretty much like jewelry when it comes tom protection from governments. You like them old toys - fine. Just don't tell us they're useful for anything other than blowing heads off during the domestic disputes.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2012 at 05:37 PM in reply to
          I guess you forgot to tell Afghanistan your naive little theory of the weapons of defense. They have managed to fend off two super powers in the past 45 years with old cast off "jewelry". Your theory sounds logical but just how much high tech government weaponry would it take to fend off 25 million people fighting for their lives and their freedom? That is why even the largest most powerful corrupt governments in history take guns away from citizens. Even though they have massive fire power corrupt governments recognize the power of an armed population. So I for one want to not only be armed but I choose not to take for granted the power of armed citizenry.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2012 at 03:36 PM in reply to
          Right, Afghanistan. I guess they got their RPGs and 50cals from the hunting stores and foreign governments had nothing to do with supplying the fighters. There are many self inflected stupidity taxes. I especially enjoy witnessing how this one works.
      • reply
        by Times Changed on Aug 31, 2012 at 05:46 PM in reply to
        Yes times have changed. Why is the gun so feared now when a short 40 years ago a gun was just part of life for many, many people? I am not that old (have not retired) and I remember being able to carry my shotgun on the bus and storing in the school closet so I could take it duck hunting after school. I was not the only one and it seemed so natural. The only precaution was that the gun had to be unloaded and I had to give my ammo to the bus driver and then to the teacher. Most anti gun people I know have never been around guns. They also have a hard time accepting that the problem is social and eliminating guns does not fix the social factor. I have had this debate with friends who are anti gun and they always admit they default to an anti gun stance for lack of a solution as to why people kill other people. So in short they admit it is not the gun. My guns have no plans to do harm to anyone and they definitely have no plans to kill anyone so I will keep and carry mine until they let me know they want to go on a killing spree. And then I can assure everyone I will be the first one to send them packing.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2012 at 04:03 PM in reply to Times Changed
          My anti-gun point wasn't that people with guns can kill other people. They can and they do but statistically the risk isn't worth my concern. What I disagree is the attempts to present guns as something more than the self esteem boosters. If carrying a gun makes you feel as a bigger man - go for it. Don't BS about protecting freedoms against government tyranny or stopping the crimes.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2012 at 07:59 AM
    Some people here ridicule the measures the school took to ensure the safety of kids as if there was no reason to be scared about gunmen around school. Those are the same people who admit to being scared of leaving the house without the gun. And don't tell me about constitutional rights... you have the right to wear truck tire on your neck, yet because it doesn't feed the paranoia and lack of self esteem nobody does it.
  • by Don on Aug 30, 2012 at 04:33 PM
    The liberal school teachers and administration have created so much undo fear it is ridiculous. I thought that the police had to have probably cause to stop and interrogate people. What crime did they suspect the guy had committed? It is legal to open carry in this state. No Crime. We live in a police state when they can stop anyone walking or riding down a street without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. This is all part of the over-criminalization that is occurring in this country. Lawmakers have created so many laws that we are all guilty of something, they just have to figure out what we did. I live less than two hundred feet from a school and am, in effect, committing a crime every time I walk out my front door carrying concealed because I am too close to the school.
    • reply
      by Old Timer on Aug 30, 2012 at 06:01 PM in reply to Don
      I did some research in the Colorado Statutes. The police need resonable suspicion, not probable cause, to officially stop somebody. Police can have a consenual contact with anybody, anywhere, that the police have a legal reason to be present in. The term "interrogate" would not be appropriate here. The term should be "interview", which is asking questions without a person being in custody. In this issue, a man had a gun visible and somebody called in. The police checked to see if the man was legal and, when they found out he was, left with no arrest and no crime. I don't see what the issue is. I talk to cops all the time at the local Gopher stores and like having them around. They also know that I carry legally concealed and there has never been an issue. If I was called in because somebody thought I was a terrorist, I would explain and be happy that somebody was being observant and worrying about the young people. Obviously, I am not a cop hater like some. I believe in our constitutional rights more than many but also think there has to be common sense with our reactions.
    • reply
      by averagejoe on Aug 31, 2012 at 08:23 AM in reply to Don
      If it was your kid getting his brains splattered all over the cafeteria, I bet you would be singing a different tune! I know there are things that we all overreact now days but when someone is seen carrying a weapon legally or illegally the police didnt know if this guy had a cwp until they contacted him. GO GJPD!
  • by Anonymous on Aug 30, 2012 at 11:14 AM
    Just a few recent legitimate reasons to carry a weapon for self defense or defense of others on school grounds: August 2012: Baltimore, Maryland (1 injured) April 2012: Oakland, California (7 dead) February 2012: Chardon, Ohio (3 dead) February 2012: Walpole, New Hampshire (1 injured) December 2011: Blacksburg, Virginia (2 dead) May 2011: Pearl City, Hawaii, (1 dead) May 2011: San Jose, California (3 dead) January 2011: Omaha Nebraska (2 dead) How many of these might be zero deaths if more people were capable of defending themselves at these schools? The violent nuts are going to have a gun regardless of what the law says. Some recent proof that armed law abiding citizens make a difference: August 2012: Armed bystander stops stabbing outside San Antonio, TX school August 2012: Armed customer stops robbery in Jacksonville, FL July 2012: Armed Senior citizen defends others from two robbers at internet cafe, Marion County, FL January 2012: Armed Customer Shoots Armed Waffle House Robber, Spartanburg, SC May 2011: Pharmacist with legal concealed carry shoots robbers, saves hostage, Benton Township
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2012 at 04:08 PM in reply to
      So out of 300 millions of population a dozen were affected over the period of several years. We all should buy guns and also some lottery tickets while we're on this stupidity tax spree.
  • by Amazed on Aug 30, 2012 at 08:40 AM
    "Don't carry a weapon on school grounds. There's really no legitimate reason to. Don't take a gun anywhere that's going to cause undue concern or alarm,"!? Lt. Stratton are you serious? Have you not seen what has been happening around the country at schools or other places that people thought were safe? Give me a break, get real and understand, as much as you and the rest of the authorities try to make it out to be, this is not pleasantville!
  • by who writes the headlines? on Aug 30, 2012 at 08:02 AM
    Grand Junction is not the biggest school in the valley- that school is down valley a bit.
    • reply
      by What? on Aug 30, 2012 at 08:41 AM in reply to who writes the headlines?
      GJHS IS the largest High School in the Grand Valley with just under 1800 students.
    • reply
      by Don on Aug 30, 2012 at 04:27 PM in reply to who writes the headlines?
      And, the school was not "shut down", it was just locked down so all the students were in effect prisoners.
      • reply
        by Old Timer on Aug 30, 2012 at 06:04 PM in reply to Don
        Are you serious? It was locked down to prevent the bad guys from coming in.
        • reply
          by Dave on Aug 30, 2012 at 08:21 PM in reply to Old Timer
          WHAT BAD GUYS???!!???
  • by mittistheman Location: gj on Aug 30, 2012 at 07:57 AM
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