April 17, 2005
If you’re going to mug someone, look around first. Colorado Springs Police Chief Luis Velez might be watching. The 30-year officer was outside the city’s police headquarters Friday morning on South Nevada Avenue when he saw a man snag a backpack from a woman. Velez instantly morphed from desk-bound administrator to badge-carrying sprinter. After a two-block chase, Velez, reportedly wearing a dapper suit rather than a uniform, cornered a 46-year-old man in a parking lot and snapped on the cuffs. “It’s impressive that he’s just like any police officer,” said Lt. Stephen Tobias, who works for the chief. “He sees a crime and takes action.” The man Velez collared is homeless and took the backpack in search of cash, according to police reports. He was arrested on suspicion of theft; the woman got her backpack returned. It was just one chapter Friday in what was one of the most hectic days for the department in recent memory. On top of a carjacking that ended with two arrests after a 90-mph chase that included shots fired at sheriff’s deputies, police dealt with drug busts, robberies and a 34-yearold man arrested on suspicion of using the Internet to try to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old. The robberies happened within a 20-minute span, according to police reports. The first came at 7:22 p.m. when a pair of pistol-brandishing robbers demanded cash from clerks at the One Dollar Depot, a discount store at 3109 S. Academy Blvd. The crooks fled before police arrived. Police in the city’s Air 1 helicopter tracked down their abandoned getaway car, a gray minivan, but the suspects, who made off with an undisclosed sum, were gone. Then, at 7:45 p.m., a robber with a pistol held up a clerk at a Conoco gas station at 701 N. Union Blvd. This robber also ran off with an undisclosed amount of cash before police arrived. Officers flooded the area, but the hunt was unsuccessful. Police had better luck making drug arrests. Search warrants served on a pair of houses in Colorado Springs yielded 2 ounces of crack cocaine and small amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana. A man and a woman were arrested on suspicion of drug possession and drug-dealing, police said. Tobias said Friday also brought a string of minor crimes and mayhem, keeping cops hopping for a straight 24 hours. “That’s probably as extreme as it gets without something major, major happening,” he said.