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Durango man suspected of vandalism ‘rampage’

Four downtown businesses sustain extensive damage

A 36-year-old Durango man was arrested Tuesday morning suspected of burglarizing several downtown businesses and causing what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

“Definitely a rampage,” said Durango Police Cmdr. Ray Shupe. “It’s going to be pretty expensive.”

The Durango Police Department was dispatched around 3:30 a.m. to the 600 block of Main Avenue after a business alarm at the Durango Rec Room marijuana dispensary went off, alerting authorities, Shupe said.

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

Officers arrived to find a significant amount of damage to some businesses on the east side of the 600 block of Main Avenue. Eventually, a suspect was heard and found on the roof of Ken & Sue’s restaurant at 636 Main Ave.

Officers cornered the suspect in the courtyard behind Ken & Sue’s, and he was taken into custody without incident, Shupe said. The man was possibly under the influence of narcotics and was hallucinating, he said.

“He wasn’t making sense,” Shupe said.


The suspect has been identified as Tyler Owens James. He was booked into the La Plata County Jail and is charged on suspicion of multiple counts of burglary and felony criminal mischief.

Investigators spent Tuesday trying to catalogue the extent of the destruction.

“It’s going to take a while to get all the pieces put together,” Shupe said.

So far, it appears four businesses were hit: Ken & Sue’s, the Durango Rec Room, Cloud 9 Head Shop and a vacant space adjacent to the Balcony Bar & Grill, which used to be the location of the Summit bar.

All properties are owned by Jean-Pierre Bleger.

One of the unknowns, Shupe said, is why property was damaged but nothing was stolen. No items were on James when he was taken into custody, and officers said nothing appears to be missing.

Shupe said investigators are confident James acted alone.

“It appears to be pretty random,” he said.

A refrigerator was thrown down the stairs in a building owned by Jean-Pierre Bleger early Tuesday morning during a rampage on the property at College Drive and Main Avenue.

Bleger, when contacted Tuesday, said the cost of damages were still being evaluated, but already, estimates could be as high as $200,000. 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.”

In the former Summit bar space, 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.

“The way the bathroom was broken, whoever did it, must have been high like you could not believe,” he said. “(It was done with) terrible force.”

Investigators say it appears a vandal caused extensive damage in the 600 block of Main Avenue. Police arrested Tyler Owens James, 36, of Durango on suspicion of multiple counts of burglary and felony criminal mischief. Police suspect James acted alone.

In just that space alone, Bleger said about 8,000 square feet was extensively damaged. The space was being remodeled to accommodate new businesses.

“There was nothing stolen that I know of, because there was nothing to steal,” he said. “We were remodeling the place. (It was a) rampage.”

A call to the Durango Rec Room was not returned. A staff member at Ken & Sue’s said they were not able to comment as the restaurant was just opening around 5 p.m.

C.J. Burns, owner of Cloud 9 Head Shop, looks at the five windows that were broken early Tuesday morning on the northeast corner of College Drive and Main Avenue.

C.J. Burns, owner of Cloud 9 Head Shop, said five skylight windows were broken in his store, located below the Balcony. He said it appeared the suspect threw large boulders, as well as a metal grease trap, to break the windows.

As a result, the store’s floors were also severely damaged and will likely need to be replaced, he said.

“He never made it in there (into the store),” Burns said. “I don’t know what he was doing.”

Shupe said the exact number of counts James could face is subject to change as investigators better understand the extent of damages.

James has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 26. His bond was set at $10,000.

James is known to Durango police.

Shupe said, James travels a lot, and recently left the area, picking up charges in other parts of Colorado in December.

“We’ve dealt with him prior,” Shupe said.

According to VineLink.com, he remained in custody at the La Plata County Jail as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.


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