Latest News – February 13
All Clear: CMC Students, Staff Released After Threat
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Group (SOG) has a suspect in custody following a threat made to the Colorado Mountain College (CMC) campus in Leadville.
Adam Slattery, 32, who attended the college for one semester and was not enrolled this spring, has been charged with resisting arrest, menacing, criminal extortion and harassment.
In a press conference held at CMC Leadville today, Lake County Sheriff Rod Fenske explained that the suspect allegedly made threatening phone calls received by another Colorado Mountain College campus, at Spring Valley in Garfield County. That campus contacted the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, which took all precautions to confirm that their local campus was not in any danger. That office then contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office SOG after concluding that the threat was actually directed at CMC’s Leadville campus.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office SOG located the suspect at the college’s Leadville campus and detained him. Students and employees were evacuated from several buildings and held in lockdown at the school’s cafeteria until the campus was swept by numerous agencies. Just before 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 13, Lake County law enforcement and the South Central Regional Bomb Squad cleared the campus of any threats and allowed students and employees to move freely on and off the campus.
Rachel Pokrandt, vice president and dean of CMC Leadville, was on campus all day Monday with students and staff. “It was a very long day, but I am so grateful that no one was injured and that law enforcement has a suspect in custody,” she said. Pokrandt pointed out that she, as well as multiple faculty and staff, were with students at all times in the cafeteria. The group was evacuated to what law enforcement determined to be the safest location, and was given hourly updates.
“Our sincerest gratitude goes out to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Leadville Police Department, Lake County Office of Emergency Management, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Buena Vista Department of Corrections personnel, South Central Region Bomb Squad (with two canines), Lake County Road and Bridge (Public Works), and Department of Parks and Wildlife, who worked together quickly, carefully and thoroughly on this emergency response,” said Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, president and CEO of the college. “Because of our regular crisis response training, our campuses and central support did just what they needed to ensure the safety of students and support the work of law enforcement. A lockdown drill was practiced several months ago at this campus, and drills are routine at all of our campuses. I greatly appreciate the work of our Leadville campus and central services teams for their efforts in resolving this situation.”
“The safety of our students and employees was, and continues to be, of the greatest importance,” Pokrandt said. She added that mental health services have been made available to students, and that the campus is open after being closed all day Monday.
The following informaiton are updates during the time the incident was unfolding.
**Update** Feb. 14 @ 6:30 a.m. – There is a news conference being held this morning regarding the bomb threat suspect and other details at 11 a.m. Leadville Today will post updates here – stay tuned.
**Update** 6:20 p.m. Leadville Today did receive confirmation from several sources on the scene that authorities have cleared the area of any threat. Students and staff at CMC have been released from this long ordeal – but with everyone safe and the suspect in custody! Have a good night!
**Update** 5 p.m.
A bomb threat that turned out to be a false alarm had Colorado Mountain College (CMC) in Leadville on lock down for most of the day, February 13. According to Mike McHargue, Director of the Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM) the threat came into Lake County Dispatch at about 9 a.m. Monday morning.
“We take all treats seriously, so the Lake County Sheriff Office issued an immediate lock down of the CMC campus,” explained McHargue at a mid-day news conference, as the news story was starting to pick up interest from the front range TV stations.
The incident focused on a backpack left in the school’s library which is located in the Pinnacle Building on the Timberline Campus. An evacuation notice was issued for all students, staff and employees to evacuate to the “farthest facility from the incident,” explained McHargue which in this scenario happened to be the school’s cafeteria. About 65 people waited it out in the dining room area.
At this point the LCOEM placed an assistance request from The South Central Region Bomb Squad, out of El Paso County, as well as the Special Operations Response Team with the Colorado Department of Corrections for perimeter security on the campus located south of Leadville.
Reports circulated quickly after the initial threat was made that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office had the suspect in custody. That allowed the situation to stabilize, although the suspect was not backing down from his threat that there was an explosive device on the campus.
During the 1 p.m. news conference, McHargue was not able to provide additional details concerning the identity of the suspect or what his motivation might have been.
Reports of the lock down started coming into the Leadville Today’s social media feeds immediately with readers sending in pictures from the scene.
By 4 p.m. the South Central All-Hazards Region Bomb squad K-9s had cleared several vehicles and was in the process of clearing buildings on campus, eventually allowing CMC staff, students and employees to head home after a long, stressful day of waiting at about 6:20 p.m.
A press conference will be held at CMC, Leadville Campus near the Climax Building at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. CMC and Lake County Public Information Officers will be on hand to answer as many questions as possible.
Lake County School District Superintendent Wendy Wyman did confirm that schools have been placed on lock-out as a precaution. That status conducts regular school classes and business within the building, but limits access in and out of facilities. In addition, Wyman also stated that LCSD high school students who are part of the dual enrollment program with CMC should have been notified along with their parents of the situation, however the district was also taking additional communication steps so that everyone stays informed about the incident.
The Underground Life: Good Wine, Great Photos Await
By Brennan Ruegg, Leadville Today Contributor
“Not a lot happens underground,” says photographer Laszlo Bencze, who’s been documenting the modern mine for years. And while Leadville has a heritage of valuing those that go underground, as much as the value of what they bring back up, in the modern mining industry most operations take place at a distance.
In his book, “Onsite: Men of Mining,” Bencze, the artist of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum’s (NMHFM) latest collection, takes the shortage of subjects as an opportunity to find “the revelatory moment,” when a good photograph is made.
“These are elements that crystallize the scene. Two people may make for a terrible picture, while three can make for work of art,” he explained in an interview with Leadville Today.
Bencze’s photographs will be on display for this Friday’s Hall of Fame’s annual tasting event: Chocolate, Wine, & Beer. Attendees will also have a chance to meet the artist; Bencze will be there, mingling, answering questions, and discussing his work.
Laszlo Bencze is a German-born photographer based out of Sacramento, Calf. whose work spans several decades and countries. Bencze specializes in commercial photography, portraits, the tech industry, and of course, mining. Though no photos from Leadville or Climax Molybdenum Mine will be featured in the current exhibit on display at the mining museum, other Freeport-McMoRan properties will be. Bencze will be returning to Lake County in a few weeks to take his camera underground at Climax .
So if you’re still wondering what you’re going to get your sweatheart for Valentine’s Day (tomorrow!) why not make it an evening of good wine, tasty sweets and great photographs, and join the museum and the artist on Friday, Feb. 17. You can still get tickets for $40, so buy yours today and you’ll be all set! In addition to wine and beer tastings, hors d’oeuvres will be provided by The Grill Bar & Cafe as well as Tennessee Pass Café, City on a Hill, Sodexo Timberline Campus, Safeway, and other contributors. The National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum is located at 120 West 9th Street.