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Update: Teenager arrested after gunshots halt fireworks in Cortez

The annual Fourth of July celebration ended abruptly Thursday night when a couple of police cars went past near the skatepark and then the firetrucks left the Recreation Center parking lot. People ran from the area after gunshots were reportedly fired into the air at the skatepark. (Sam Green/Special to The Journal)
‘Multiple shots were fired into the air,’ police say

The Cortez Police Department has arrested a 17-year-old on suspicion of firing a gun Thursday night during the fireworks show at Parque de Vida.

The suspect was being transported to the Grand Mesa Youth Services Center in Grand Junction, according to an email from Kelly Codner, public information officer.

A handgun was recovered, and the investigation is ongoing.

The reports of shots fired near the skatepark brought an abrupt end to the fireworks show after police and the Cortez Fire Protection District decided in a “unified response” to stop the show early, Codner said in an email Friday morning.

According to a statement by the Cortez Police Department on Crimewatch.net, a fight broke out in the skatepark on the south side of Parque de Vida about 9:35 p.m.

“Multiple shots were fired into the air,” the alert said.

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The police statement, created at 10:47 p.m., said no injuries were reported because of the shots, and the suspect, believed to be a juvenile, fled on foot.

“Officers are investigating,” the statement said. “We do not believe that there is an active threat to the public.”

A post on the police department’s Facebook page asked that anyone with information about the gunshots use the Crimewatch website or mobile app because the Montezuma-Cortez dispatch was “extremely busy” with calls.

Alx Lee, a reporter with the Tri-City Record in Farmington, reported about 9:45 p.m. that she heard two gunshots on the south side of Parque de Vida, and people began running away from the area. Lee was in town with family for the fireworks show.

The Tri-City Record, like The Journal, is a Ballantine Communications Inc. newspaper.

The annual fireworks show draws hundreds of spectators each year from the Four Corners states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

The show was scheduled to last until 10 p.m. It was the last major event planned for the city’s Independence Day celebration, which began at 3 p.m. in the adjacent Centennial Park. A car show began at 4 p.m., and the classic-rock band Flash Back was scheduled to play at 7 p.m. to set up the start of the fireworks show, which began about 9:20 p.m.

Kelly Codner, a public information officer for the city of Cortez and the Cortez Police Department, said about 10 p.m. that dispatch was inundated with calls, and additional information was not immediately available.

Police were reportedly heading to a drug overdose at Safeway, 1580 E. Main St., when the shots went off, a result of an apparent fight, according to Codner. The shots were reportedly fired into the air.

“We will release details as they become available,“ she said in a text to The Journal.

The fireworks show is put on by the Cortez Fire Protection District.

Codner on Friday attributed the “abrupt cancellation of last night's 4th of July fireworks display” to a “unified response by the Cortez Police Department and the Cortez Fire Protection District for the safety and well-being of all residents and visitors.”

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