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Man Gets Drunk, Leads Yellowstone Park Rangers On 100mph+ Chase

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
11971

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who led Yellowstone National Park rangers this week on a chase with speeds of more than 100 mph could face multiple years in prison or hefty fines.

Roderick B. Tillman Jr. has been charged with nine misdemeanor counts, including driving under the influence, fleeing a police officer and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Tillman made an appearance in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, where he was advised of the charges against him.

According to court documents, officers were alerted to a collision between two vehicles near Yellowstone’s southern entry gate Monday morning. The reporting party said one of the drivers, later identified as Tillman, was belligerent and was suspected to be intoxicated.

The reporting woman also said Tillman was throwing “stuff” at her husband. Tillman reportedly left the scene in a red vehicle, traveling toward Grant Village inside the park.

An officer located Tillman’s vehicle and attempted to initiate a traffic stop, but Tillman did not pull over. At one point, Tillman had to stop the vehicle due to traffic and officers commanded him to leave his car, even using a gun convince him to do so.

He refused and fled the scene again.

Tillman began to drive more than 100 mph in a 45 mph speed zone in the park. He frequently drove in the opposing lane of traffic with vehicles coming toward him — some even had to swerve off the road to avoid hitting him — and made erratic passing maneuvers with no use of turn signals, said an affidavit filed in the case.

He also would suddenly accelerate or brake, creating a dangerous and unpredictable environment.

After turning his vehicle around at one point to avoid apprehension, Tillman turned down the Mesa Pit Road, a gravel road with a “do not enter” sign posted near it. He lost control of his car and slid down a steep sandy hill.

A ranger told Tillman to exit his vehicle, but he didn’t comply. His speech was slurred and his responses were incoherent as he made references to items including the ranger’s ancestors, rape and Christopher Columbus and making comments such as “You did this to me” and “I’m drunk.”

In his vehicle, officers found two empty alcohol containers and a pill bottle.

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YouTube “Influencers” Arrested In Rawlins After Breaking Into Hotel, Harassing Wildlife

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Five men were arrested over the weekend in Rawlins after breaking into an abandoned hotel and recording footage while “on tour” for their YouTube channel.

Dmitri Sergei Martyanov, 31, of Tempe, Arizona is charged with felony theft of a firearm and Jorge Eduardo Mendoza Aguinaga, 22, of California, is charged with possession of a controlled substance (three ounces of marijuana), according to Cali O’Hare of Bigfoot99, who originally reported on the incident.

Both men are currently out on bond, while their companions were not charged.

The five men had more than a half dozen firearms when they broke into the hotel. They documented their escapades on Snapchat, referring to it as “the projects” and “a serial killer’s house.”

The men also filmed themselves breaking windows inside the hotel, which was condemned almost a decade ago.

They were also seen harassing a female mule deer, throwing bread rolls at the animal.

The group of men run a YouTube channel that is labeled as a “shocking reality/comedy show” that “aims to expose the problem” of drug addiction in the United States. They generally film drug addicted and homeless people.

The duo have racked up more than 7 million views on their channel, but they haven’t posted a video since April.

Martyanov and Aguinaga were supposed to appear in circuit court for preliminary hearings this week, but their court appearances will be rescheduled, according to O’Hare.

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Man Shot By Green River Police After Firing At Officers

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man was shot late Tuesday by Green River police after shooting at police officers and threatening other people with a gun, according to the Green River Police Department.

Around 11 p.m. on Tuesday, a Green River police officer received a report of a person who had threatened other people with a gun near a local park.

As the officer was receiving the information, a vehicle matching the description given by the caller passed by the officer’s location.

Officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and the driver initially refused to exit the vehicle.

Then, the driver began to fire a weapon at officers, who returned fire. The subject was wounded at some point during the altercation and was transported by ambulance to Sweetwater County Memorial Hospital.

He was later taken to an out-of-state hospital for further treatment.

The investigation of the incident has been turned over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, which is standard practice for any officer-involved shooting in the state.

No other details on the shooting were immediately available, since the investigation just commenced.

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14-Year-Old Cheyenne Male Shot And Killed In Apparent Homicide

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A 14-year-old Cheyenne boy was killed early Monday morning in an apparent homicide, according to the Cheyenne Police Department.

Around 1 a.m. Monday, Cheyenne police officers were dispatched to a residence on a report of a gunshot heard inside the home. Upon arrival, they found the teenage victim.

The boy was transported to the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center by ambulance, where he was then pronounced dead.

The case is under investigation by Cheyenne police and no further information, including the victim’s name, has been released.

However, a GoFundMe page that was launched by an apparent friend of the victim’s family identified the boy as Daniel Barlow. The page also said he was shot in the chest.

“We are asking for anyone that feels lead by the Lord to please donate to funeral costs,” the GoFundMe’s organizer, Ashlea Bradford, wrote. “Nothing can bring my sweet cousin back but hopefully this will help the financial burden on my uncle. Whatever you can help with would be greatly appreciated by our family. Thank you.”

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Cheyenne Police Detective Bureau at 307-637-6521. Additionally, information can be provided anonymously at 307-638-TIPS or at silentwitnesslaramiecounty.com.

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Raccoon-Hat-Wearing Maine Man Banned From Yellowstone For Trespassing Onto Old Faithful

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Maine man who last year approached Old Faithful Geyser while wearing a raccoon skin hat and waving an American flag has been banned from Yellowstone National Park as part of his sentence on a guilty plea to charges stemming from the incident.

Aaron E. Merritt, 38, pleaded guilty to trespassing on the Old Faithful Thermal area in the park last summer. He was arraigned and sentenced on Thursday to 15 days in jail, with credit for four days served. He was also fined $230 in court costs and a $10 special assessment fee.

Merritt was also banned from the park, although it wasn’t clear if it was a lifetime ban. He was also sentenced to 15 days imprisonment with credit for four days served.

On July 7, 2020, while wearing a raccoon skin hat and waving an American flag, Merritt ran out onto the thermal area and up to the geyser at Old Faithful more than once. The thermal area surrounding the geyser is off-limits to visitors.

Merritt then failed to appear for his court hearing on July 23, 2020, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He was arrested on June 5 in Maine and made his appearance at the Yellowstone Justice Center.

“Yellowstone National Park has rules and regulations in place to protect park resources and help keep visitors safe,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “This case ended with federal charges and time in prison, but it could have been much worse. If Mr. Merrick had fallen through the thermal feature, he would have most likely lost his life.” 

Merritt is the second person to be banned from the park this week, joining an Indiana man who fought park rangers and security guards earlier this month while intoxicated. That man was banned from the park for five years.

According to a previous Cowboy State Daily story, Merritt is not the only person to face park justice recently. Jake Adams, a comedian who thought he could increase his social media following by hitting a golf ball in all 50 states, is now under investigation for hitting one near Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring.

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Off-The-Grid Trapper Kills Himself After Law Enforcement Searches Property For Missing Woman

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A Sublette County man who described himself as a trapper who “lived completely off grid” killed himself while law enforcement authorities were searching his property for a missing woman, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Department office announced on Wednesday.

On June 19, a search warrant was served to Darrell “Pete” Petry which allowed authorities to begin the search for Vanessa “Nessy” Oren, a 61-year-old Labarge woman who has been missing since January, 2017.

During the multi-day search, Petry left his property and was found dead on June 22. An investigation determined that his death was self-inflicted and no foul play is suspected.

Authorities told the Casper Star Tribune that Petry was not under arrest and was “free to come and go.”

Petry described his property on his Facebook page as a “remote area in southwest Wyoming completely off grid.”

The self-described trapper said he was retired but still worked part-time in “predator control.”

He also said he had been raising bobcats since 2012.

“Keeping a pet bobcat in the house has been a teaching experience,” Petry wrote. “I’ve learned more about the cats and what, why and when they are attracted to some scents compared to other scents. An example being rubbing on WD40. Odd uh? And bobcats have a better sense of smell than most trappers.”

Petry appeared to be an active Facebook participant in 2015 and early 2016. His page is full of photos — some gruesome — of coyotes, foxes, and other animals caught in snares and traps.

At the same time, he posted photos of his pet bobcat lounging around his cabin.

“He is loose in the house a lot,” Petry wrote. “Spends most of his time in the house fact is. He use to not mind my girls be’n here.”

The Search warrant was executed with the assistance of multiple agencies including NecroSearch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming Game and Fish, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol. 

According to The Charley Project, an online clearinghouse of information for missing persons, the missing woman last had contact with her family in late January or early February of 2016. 

“She has never been heard from again,” the site said.

The disappearance of Vanessa “Nessy” Orren is still being actively investigated by the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.  

The Sublette County Sheriff’s requests anyone with any information related to the disappearance of Vanessa Orren to please contact the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at 307-367-4378.  

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Drunken Man Who Attacked Yellowstone Rangers Pleads Guilty, Banned From Park For 5 Years

in Yellowstone/News/Crime
11799

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man who drunkenly fought park rangers and security guards in Yellowstone National Park earlier this month pleaded guilty to his offenses this week in U.S. District Court.

Kyle F. Campbell, 31, of Fairmont, Indiana pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from an incident in the park on June 21. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a five-year term of unsupervised probation and banned from Yellowstone for five years.

He was also ordered to pay $1,550 in fines and a $50 special assessment fee.

Campbell pleaded guilty to several criminal charges: disorderly conduct; threatening, resisting, and intentionally interfering with a government employee; violating the lawful order of a government employee; being under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree that may endanger oneself or others; and contempt of court for refusing to comply with Magistrate Judge Mark Carman’s warrant to collect a blood sample.

“We understand that people are eager to get out this summer and enjoy our national parks; however, this type of behavior is unacceptable. Thanks to the quick actions taken by park rangers and the park vendor’s security officers, no one was seriously harmed,” said Acting United States Attorney Bob Murray. “Stay sober, because unruly and intoxicated behavior will only earn you a spot with the jailbirds rather than enjoying the beauty and adventure of Yellowstone.”  

According to court documents, around 5:45 p.m. on June 21, a Yellowstone ranger received a report of disorderly conduct occurring at the Grant Marina. Four people had been denied access to their kayak tour by their tour guide because of intoxication.

Campbell, who was part of the group, allegedly became agitated and hostile, according to an affidavit filed in support of the charges, yelling at the tour guide and making threats.

The group left the scene in a silver minivan towing a trailer. Law enforcement began looking for the group within the park.

A few minutes later, there was a report an incident at the Grant Helispot between Campbell (dressed only in sweatpants and socks) and a security guard. The location of the incident was in an employee RV court in an area clearly marked for employees only.

When a ranger arrived, Campbell put his hands into the air, claiming he did nothing wrong and the security guard was lying. He also kept making threatening gestures toward the security guard, which caused the ranger to detain him, the affidavit said.

Campbell continued to repeat he did nothing wrong, and the ranger noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from the man. Campbell confirmed he had been drinking that day and only could say he “had a lot.”

The security guard said he had seen Campbell driving the silver minivan without the trailer. When he told Campbell to drive slower in the area, Campbell flipped him off.

As they kept talking, Campbell got increasingly agitated, getting within a foot of the security guard and making comments about assaulting him, the affidavit said.

Campbell also refused to comply with the ranger’s requests to stay put and stop moving while the security guard was being interviewed. He was then placed inside the ranger’s vehicle.

While the ranger asked the security guard if Campbell could have been driving under the influence, Campbell began to bang his head against the law enforcement vehicle. He was told to stop, which he did momentarily, but then resumed.

After being removed from the car and placed on the ground, Campbell began to refer to the ranger and security guard using racist and homophobic slurs, according to the affidavit.

Campbell attempted to scoot and roll toward the security guard, and the ranger ultimately placed him under arrest for disorderly conduct.

In a search of the silver minivan, officers found empty alcohol and marijuana containers.

He also banged his head against the pavement, injuring his nose and causing it to bleed. He continued to resist detainment and paramedics taking him to the hospital in Livingston, Montana, ultimately leading to him being sedated.

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Bandits Rip ATM From Cheyenne Bank; Abandoned Truck Found With Obliterated ATM Attached

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Perhaps the bandit or bandits didn’t watch the episode of Breaking Bad when two meth-heads stole an ATM and tried to open it up. It’s really hard.

Last Friday night in Cheyenne, whoever tried to steal an ATM found that out.

The Cheyenne Police Department is reporting that they were called to the Platte Valley Bank in northern Cheyenne early Friday morning because of a report of an attempted ATM theft.

The tip turned out to be correct.

The police found the ATM but it was no longer in the bank. Instead the mangled machine was attached to a blue 2004 Ford F250 pickup truck.

No one was in the truck. And unlike the episode of Breaking Bad, no one’s head was crushed under the weight of the machine.

“Officers believe the abandoned vehicle had been stolen from a nearby residence a few hours prior to the incident at the bank,” a police statement said.

The big question is were the thieves able to break-open the ATM and get the cash?

It’s impossible to tell from the photo of the obliterated ATM, the Cheyenne Police isn’t saying, and no video has been released of the incident.

Authorities say no arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Cheyenne Police Detective Bureau at (307) 637-6521 or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (303) 629-7171.

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Casper Animal Shelter Employee Charged With Felony Theft

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An employee of the City of Casper’s Metro Animal Shelter has been charged with theft following an investigation that indicated he stole almost $6,000 from the shelter over six years, the Casper Police Department announced on Monday.

Michael Gaylord, a kennel technician and six-year employee of Metro Animal Shelter, has been charged with two felony counts of theft.

“The citizens of Casper deserve honest, hard-working public servants,” said Casper Chief of Police Keith McPheeters. “When one of our own falls short of the high standards we set for ourselves, we feel it necessary to inform the community and make the changes necessary to prevent this type of behavior from taking place again. Our community can trust that the Department has no tolerance for employees who do not uphold the highest levels of professionalism, a standard our citizens expect and deserve.”

An internal investigation was launched in April, following a citizen complaint concerning an unissued receipt from a transaction at the animal shelter. The investigation uncovered numerous receipts that were unaccounted for and discrepancies in financial reports at the shelter.

Because the Casper Police Department took over the shelter in 2019, it turned its findings over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation for further investigation.

Ultimately, investigators determined that over the course of six years, Gaylord stole at least $5,970 from Metro Animal Shelter, the department said.

The investigation confirmed that the theft consistently occurred through the misappropriation of small cash transactions, generally $5 or $10 at a time, occurring over time, and occurred during customer transactions for purchases of small items such as licenses, fees or other products when the customer didn’t want a receipt for the purchase.

“Over the last two years, the Casper Police Department has worked diligently and invested heavily to organize and restructure the business operations of the shelter,” the department’s Facebook post said. “This initial finding was made, in part, due to the attentiveness of the newly appointed Superintendent of Metro Animal Shelter.”

Immediately upon receipt of the citizen complaint that launched the investigation, the Casper Police Department leadership implemented new policies and procedures surrounding how monetary transactions are conducted and recorded at the Metro Animal Shelter, including increased checks and balances, oversight and accountability to ensure theft like this doesn’t happen again.

“The team at Metro Animal Shelter continues to be a dedicated group of professionals who work tirelessly to protect and serve the citizens and animals of Casper,” the post said.

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Shootout Leaves Suspect Killed, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Injured

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By Jimmy Orr and Bill Sniffin

A shootout in Lander during a traffic stop on Friday left a 24-year-old man dead and a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper injured.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol said the shooting occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Sinks Canyon Road in Lander. 

“The trooper conducted a traffic stop and moments into the stop, the trooper and the suspect exchanged gunfire,” a spokesman for the patrol said.

According to reports, the suspect was declared dead at the scene while the trooper was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his wounds.

The mayor of Lander, Monte Richardson, was directing traffic near the incident. He told Cowboy State Daily he heard a man was killed and an officer was down.

On Saturday, the Highway Patrol announced the trooper was released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Jill Hunter, who lives in the house across from the incident, said she saw a man lying the ground and officials trying to resuscitate him.  She said the road was closed for a long period of time.

A Rock Springs resident who was visiting Lander said “the streets were screaming with sirens from every direction.”

“I thought I was in New York City for a minute,” DA Jereb said. “I didn’t realize that Lander had so many law enforcement ready to respond so quickly. I was impressed and at the time, I knew it had to be something serious.”

Andy Gramlich, a retired pilot who lives nearby, said he counted 17 various law enforcement vehicles and sirens sounded for more than an hour.

Names of those involved and details about the traffic stop have not been released.  

The matter has been turned over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

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