BY JEFF SWANSON
Daily Press writer
A parent of one of the victims of last Tuesday's paintball attack is upset with local police about how they handled the situation.
Three 16-year-old males were charged with felony second-degree assault and cruelty to animals in connection with an attack on children sledding on Cathy Cisar Hill, and horses in the area.
The shooters also shot a 14-year-old boy a number of times as he was making an attempt to flee.
Mike Fredrickson, whose son was one of the children shot, believes police should have detained the youth until the investigation was complete.
"I'm pretty upset," Fredrickson said. "With situations like the incident at Columbine, and what happened here last week [students threatening to bomb Moffat County High School] I think that the police should take this a little more seriously. They were released to their parents before the police had any idea of the extent of the crime.
"One of the kids that they shot was a 10-year-old boy, and they shot him point-blank in the face," he said. "If that doesn't show how violent they are, nothing does."
Police also discovered a videotape that was made by the shooters after releasing the youth to their parents.
"I think what they did was an incredibly stupid thing to do," Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said. "Not only was it irresponsible and criminal, it was also dangerous. However, once we make the initial arrest on the street, the matter is out of our hands.
"If we believe that juveniles involved in an incident should be detained, it is our responsibility to contact the Crisis Intervention Team, who takes over from there," he said. "We did this in this particular situation. They will then normally meet with the District Attorney and the judge to determine whether or not they should be held."
According to Vanatta, juveniles can only be detained if:
A felony was committed and the safety, welfare and protection of the community requires they be detained.
The juvenile has a bench warrant for their arrest.
They have escaped from a juvenile facility.
There is an immigration hold.
Phone calls to the District Attorney's Office and Crisis Intervention Team were not returned by press time.
Fredrickson said that his son believed that the weapon he was being fired upon with, and the bullets that were striking his body were real.
"He was scared to death," Fredrickson said. "He said that he thought for sure that he was being shot. He was running for his life from these individuals."
The 10-year-old boy who was shot point-blank sought assistance from employees at the Kum and Go store at 895 Yampa Ave.
"It was really sad," Kim and Go manager Danielle DeWitt said. "He came in here and asked to use the phone to call his dad, and he was pretty shook up over the whole incident. His face was swollen and black and blue, and he had orange paint all over his face from the paintball.
"He really began to get upset when he called his dad, because he kept telling him over and over, 'I've been shot, I've been shot,'" she said. "We tried our best to calm him down and get ice on his face, but he was pretty traumatized by the whole thing, and we felt terrible for him."
Although paintball guns are often viewed as toys, according to Vanatta, nothing could be further from the truth.
"The parents of the juveniles we arrested have been fairly good in this situation," he said. "But one parent really concerned me because they said that paintball guns are made to be shot at people. Sure they are, but only when people are wearing the proper safety equipment.
"Paintball guns can fire with enough pressure to cause death," he said. "They need to be treated as any other gun, and kids need to be smarter in situations like this."