On Tuesday evening, Cortez Police Chief Vernon Knuckles updated the community on the investigation into Friday’s shooting, and addressed questions from community members.
Chief Knuckles said that one arrest had been made, and the suspected shooter was Zane Killsinsight, 18, who is currently in police custody while waiting for his return filing of charges on September 26.
The other suspects have been identified, and Knuckles said they are in the process of issuing four arrest warrants for the other suspects.
“Officers are working on those as we speak,” he said.
He emphasized to concerned citizens that the shooting was not a random act of violence, but a targeted event. Other altercations and smaller acts of violence over the past few weeks culminated in the shooting, with the victims being targeted.
“This incident has been brewing between these two factions for a few weeks,” he said.
The incidents on Sept. 2 and Sept. 8 are believed to be connected to Friday’s shooting.
Knuckles thanked the Cortez Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Highway Patrol and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which sent a crime scene technician to assist the night of the shooting.
In total, Knuckles said there were three crime scenes. One where the shooting occurred, and two others where the suspects abandoned their vehicles.
“The officers and detectives at the police department did an outstanding job of managing this incident and everything else going on in town, and I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve done,” he said.
After his statement, Knuckles, Detective Stephon Loboto, who is leading the investigation, and Detective Lt. Ryan Lloyd took questions from members of the community for over 20 minutes.
Before the questions started, they said they may not be able to answer everyone’s questions due to the ongoing investigation.
While they couldn’t say what the two groups had been fighting about over the past few weeks or give the name of the group, they did acknowledge that there was only one shooter who allegedly fired from a vehicle.
He said the suspects don’t live on Market Street, where the shooting occurred, but that the victim lived on the corner where the incident took place.
In response to a question about 18-year-old victim Josilyn Mark, Knuckles said doctors were able to save her leg after initial fears it may have to be amputated because of the severity of the injury.
Knuckles said Mark nearly bled out after being shot, but Officer Kristin Cannon arrived at the scene and immediately applied a tourniquet.
“It was close for her,” he said.
Knuckles praised Cannon for her quick actions, though she was not present at the meeting.
Many voiced their concerns about their safety and the safety of their families with the suspects still on the loose, but Knuckles emphasized that the shooting Friday was a targeted event, and he didn’t believe the public should have reason to fear for their safety at this time.
In response to a question about whether the remaining suspects were thought to be armed, Knuckles said, “Probably,” but said they believe the only threat at this time could be directed toward law enforcement, as the suspects most likely know they are being sought after.
He also said the groups were believed to be responsible for the tagging that has been happening in various locations around Cortez.
While the police department doesn’t have a way to send out alerts to all citizens’ phones in the event of an emergency like the shooting, Knuckles reminded attendees of a service called Nixle, that residents can sign up for.
Nixle sends alerts for events that residents need to be aware of. Those signed up for Nixle received emergency alerts the night of the shooting.
He also urged citizens to sign up for Crimewatch, an app and website that allows citizens to submit tips (with personal information or anonymously) as well as to keep up to date on apprehensions, search warrants and more.
He said community members can also register their personal security cameras with Crimewatch to help provide evidence in cases.
He said registering a camera doesn’t give the police department access to the cameras, but rather allows them to see where cameras are located in the event they are looking for evidence in a particular area.
Knuckles shared that it was personal security cameras that helped officers identify the suspects in this case.
“We’ve been struggling identifying the suspects, but it couldn’t have been done without personal security devices that the community has,” he said, saying these devices were “instrumental” in helping law enforcement identify suspects so quickly.
In closing, Knuckles reminded the community to immediately call 911 if they hear gunshots and to stay inside and stay low in the event of a shooting.
“We all need to be vigilant always,” he said, while reminding the community that he doesn’t believe they have a reason to be fearful or concerned about the suspects in this case.
He also promised to keep the community in the know and updated as they are able.