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Bond set at $20,000 for suspect in downtown Durango burglary spree

Arrest affidavit provides more details about damage to four businesses

A 36-year-old man suspected of a violent burglary spree in downtown Durango earlier this week had his bond set at $20,000 on Friday, as more details emerged about the rampage through several local businesses.

Durango police originally said the suspect, Tyler Owen James, was from Durango. Court records, however, show he lives in Bayfield.

James is suspected of significantly damaging four downtown Durango businesses in the early morning hours Tuesday. He was taken into custody without incident in the courtyard behind Ken & Sue’s restaurant.

On Friday, James appeared in court to have his bond set.

David Dean, representing the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, requested James’ bond be set at $50,000.

Dean said James has been unable to comply with previous court orders on other active cases and “presents a threat to community safety.” He said this case is James’ fourth pending felony case spanning two different states.

Dean said other charges include possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, burglary of a dwelling and theft of a motor vehicle. He also asked James to have alcohol, drug and GPS monitoring should he be released.

Susan Bandy, James’ public defender, requested a personal recognizance bond, which allows people to be out of custody at no cost as long as they follow court conditions and show up to hearings.

Bandy said James is employed in Bayfield and lives with his wife and children there. She said James has other family in the community, as well.

La Plata County Judge Anne Woods, however, said James has been given the chance to be released before trial and has failed to live up to court orders, even picking up new charges, such as the suspected burglary incident.

“I don’t want to keep people in jail on a high bond for a property crime,” Woods said. “But I cannot in good conscience release you to the community right now.”

Woods set a $20,000 bond. It appears James had been out on a $15,000 bond for another case in La Plata County when the downtown burglaries occurred.

More details about the incident emerged after the arrest affidavit was filed Friday.

Jean-Pierre Bleger looks over extensive damage to his property on the northeast corner of College Drive and Main Avenue after it was vandalized early Tuesday morning.

According to the affidavit, Durango police responded to the east side of the 600 block of Main Avenue around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday after the owner of Cloud 9 Head Shop reported the business’ windows had been broken.

The owner, according to the affidavit, could see the broken windows from the business’ security cameras, but did not see anyone inside the shop.

As officers arrived, the Durango Rec Room’s business alarm went off, which signaled multiple glass-break sensors and an audible alarm.

Officers heard noises and glass breaking coming from the alleyway behind the Durango Rec Room and drew their weapons. At that time, James allegedly emerged from around a corner on the back of the building.

“(James) yelled something unintelligible, then ran west, away from officers,” the arrest affidavit says.

Officers later found James on a low rooftop patio area at Ken & Sue’s. James then dropped down to the ground and was found in the northwest corner of the patio area.

“I saw James running around the patio area in what looked to be a panicked escape attempt,” the investigating officer wrote. “I also heard several loud crashing noises and I saw a propane bottle roll from around a tent.”

James was ordered to show officers his hands, and he became compliant with officers’ orders. He was taken to La Plata County Jail without incident. Police said they believe James may have been under the influence of drugs.

Investigators found no evidence James stole anything from the businesses he broke into. However, he is suspected of causing significant damage. Police have said they are confident James acted alone.

At the Durango Rec Room, broken glass was strewn across the main sales room and three double-pane glass windows were broken. Estimated damages, according to the affidavit, are around $1,200.

At Cloud 9 Head Shop, five large glass windows were broken. Estimated damages are at around $2,500, according to court records.

At Ken & Sue’s, investigators noted a broken glass window in the building and a broken plexiglass window on the patio, estimated at $260 in damages.

The building that was damaged the most, by far, was discovered around 7 a.m. at the former space that was the location of the Summit bar, adjacent to the Balcony Bar & Grill.

There, James is suspected of damaging bathroom fixtures and destroying the plumbing, which caused extensive water damage.

All of the properties are owned by Jean-Pierre Bleger.

In an interview earlier this week, Bleger told The Durango Herald damages could be as high as $200,000.

He said at the old Summit, the sink in the bathroom was torn out, which created flooding from the second floor to the first floor that lasted for three to four hours.

Among the other damages, a refrigerator was found thrown down the stairs, and a hot water tank was knocked over causing the ceiling to collapse.

“I’ve never seen a place ransacked like this. Everything is in pieces,” Bleger said. “It’s hard for me to believe it was only one guy who did that. The damage is so extensive.”

James’ next court hearing is March 26. He was charged on suspicion of two counts of second-degree burglary, a Class 4 felony; four counts of criminal mischief, a Class 4 felony; and four counts of criminal attempt.


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