SAN LUIS VALLEY— A high-speed chase that spanned four counties began with an incident Saturday evening on Wolf Creek Pass, cutting across Rio Grande County then into Saguache and Chaffee counties, where two of the suspects crashed a stolen vehicle.
According to a report from the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), on Saturday, March 31, just before 6 p.m., two vehicles and their occupants were reported as vandalizing property on Wolf Creek Pass in Mineral county. At 6:19 p.m., the vehicles were observed by the Colorado State Patrol west of Del Norte.
The two vehicles, a black 2016 Jeep Wrangler SUV and a white 2012 Mitsubishi sedan, then accelerated with speeds over 100 miles per hour. Troopers pursued eastbound toward Del Norte. The pursuit was called off at 6:20 p.m., before it reached the Town of Del Norte.
Although they weren’t being pursued anymore, the drivers continued to endanger the public with aggressive and reckless driving, taking traffic head-on at a high rate of speed. The vehicles then turned onto Colorado 112 and were pursued by the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office.
The Jeep drove into the oncoming lane, running cars off the road, including a CSP car that was driving on Colorado 112. Tire deflation devices were setup on Colorado 112 by the Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office, and the vehicles turned off the highway onto a county road. They then separated, with the Mitsubishi going east on Saguache County Road B and the Jeep continuing north on county roads being pursued by Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office.
Tire deflation devices were successfully deployed on the Mazda, by Center Police Department, and then stopped by Rio Grande Sheriff’s deputies just north of the town of Center. The occupants brandished a weapon upon stopping, but no shots were exchanged. They subsequently gave up peacefully.
The occupants of the Jeep later carjacked a silver Toyota SUV by gunpoint south of Villa Grove, and then led deputies on a pursuit into Chaffee County on Highway 285, before changing directions at a roadblock set up by Chaffee County deputies just prior to Poncha Springs. They then rammed a Rio Grande Sheriff’s vehicle and drove back into Saguache County.
Troopers attempted to perform a maneuver to cause the vehicle to spin out and stop, but the suspect continued to evade attempts. The suspect finally lost control in an attempt to avoid the troopers and rolled the stolen vehicle off the right side of the roadway.
The suspects in the Mazda, Nicholas Vitali, 28 of Broomfield, and Nichole Lee, 28 of Westminster, were taken into custody. The suspects that started in the Jeep, Anthony Longo, 26 of Denver, and Ashleigh Ankele, 27 of Denver, were transported for medical care to Salida and Colorado Springs, but were eventually taken into custody.
Additional investigation revealed that the vehicles were stolen. Search of those vehicles revealed a cache of weapons, suspected methamphetamine and heroin, and multiple electronic and financial devices.
All suspects will be charged with numerous felonies, including charges related to the weapons, stolen vehicles, eluding, armed carjacking, and drugs. The suspects already had numerous warrants for vehicular eluding, aggravated motor vehicle theft, theft, burglary, ID theft, criminal mischief, trespass, possession of dangerous drugs, obstruction of a peace officer, unauthorized use of a financial transaction device, and failing to appear for the offenses.
The investigation is ongoing and will likely result in more charges.
Anyone who was run off the road, witnessed the reckless driving, knows of vandalism on Wolf Creek Pass, or has any additional information on the suspects is asked to call the Colorado State Patrol in Alamosa at 719-589-5807.