Deputy killed, officer critically wounded as authorities seek twin fugitives

Sunday, September 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PENROSE, Colo. (AP) _ Authorities scoured an area of south-central Colorado on Saturday for twin brothers suspected of killing a sheriff's deputy and shooting two other lawmen, critically injuring one.

Joel and Michael Stovall, 24, escaped from a sheriff's patrol car late Friday near Penrose, said Fremont County sheriff's spokesman Dean Richardson. Authorities said the brothers had been suspects in the shooting of a dog.

Richardson said Deputy Jason Schwartz, 26, who was driving the men to jail, was shot several times in the head in his patrol car. He died at a hospital. Authorities did not know where the Stovalls, who were handcuffed, got a weapon.

Later, the brothers stole a pickup truck at gunpoint in Florence, about 5 miles from Penrose, Florence Police Chief Mike Ingle said. The area is about 90 miles southwest of Denver.

One of the brothers, sitting in the back of the pickup, used an assault rifle to fire at two officers who responded, hitting Cpl. Toby Bethel twice in the back. Ingle said they parked about 100 yards away and waved and smiled at paramedics who arrived to help the officers. They also allegedly fired two shots at Ingle as he headed to the scene.

``They were coming after us,'' said Ingle, who was cut by shattered glass. ``We felt they were targeting us. It didn't seem like they were looking for civilians and trying to hurt them. But they were after the police.''

Bethel was listed in critical condition at a hospital in Denver. Another officer was treated for minor injuries suffered when Bethel's car crashed.

The suspects drove the pickup west out of Florence, and several more shots were fired from the back of the truck, Ingle said. A sheriff's deputy was shot in the arm but was released after treatment.

``It just seemed like it was a big game to them, something they weren't taking very serious,'' Ingle said.

Early Saturday, the pickup was found abandoned near Howard, more than 30 miles west of the last shooting, authorities said.