hotchkiss man sentenced for theft of detective's assault rifle and tactical gear
Detective was in Denver receiving cancer treatment at time of crime
DENVER -- Keaton Bell, age 25, of Hotchkiss, Colorado, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Grand Junction by Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane to serve 5 years’ probation, with the first 12 months in community corrections for possession of stolen firearms and ammunition, and possession of machine gun, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office announced. Bell was also ordered to serve 100 hours of community service. Bell, who appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, will be released today and will surrender to the community corrections facility when there is an opening.
Bell was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on February 4, 2013. He pled guilty before Senior Judge Kane on May 30, 2013. He was sentenced today, November 4, 2013.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in October 2012, an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office detective and SWAT team member was in Denver undergoing cancer treatment. He lived in Gypsum, Colorado, with his girlfriend, who visited him periodically in Denver during his cancer treatment. The detective’s girlfriend gave her girlfriend permission to stay at the detective’s Gypsum home while the two were in Denver for the cancer treatment. The person staying at the home invited her boyfriend, Keaton Bell, to stay with her in Gypsum.
While Bell and his girlfriend were at the home between October 5 through October 7, 2012, they got into a fight. Bell eventually left, taking the detective’s SWAT equipment, including a machine gun, a hand gun, ammunition and tactical gear, which had been stored in the basement of the home. Some of the equipment and weapons were owned by Eagle County.
At the time the crime was reported, Bell was reportedly in Alberta, Canada, working for a mining company. Officers went to Bell’s home in Hotchkiss, Colorado on November 2, 2012, and were unable to reach anyone. Investigators continued to locate Bell when he responded via text about his location. He then called the officers when he became available. Officers asked for permission to search Bell’s pickup. He granted them permission as along as a family member was present. During the search officers found, among other things, a leg holster for a taser that the Special Operations Unit of the Sheriff’s Office, to which Hall was assigned, uses. Hall confirmed the leg holster was his. Officers then issued a state warrant for Bell’s arrest.
On November 20, 2012, Bell was reported as a suspicious person at a Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and police were called. The Glenwood Springs Police Department arrested Bell on the Eagle County arrest warrant. Investigators confirmed that Bell stole from Hall a Colt rifle, a Glock, a .380 pistol, magazines, and a suppressor for the rifle. They also found out that once Bell returned from Canada he then put the stolen items into his truck.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office obtained a state search warrant for the truck, and found a camouflage-colored rifle case under the driver’s side rear wheel well which contained the following items stolen from Hall’s home: a Colt M4 Commando .223 Fully Automatic Rifle, an EOTech Sight System, a Surefire Light System, a GemTech Halo Suppressor, a Glock 9mm model 26 semi-automatic pistol, and two .223 magazines. They also found the Bersa .380 with holster under the hood and in the engine compartment of the vehicle.
The Colt rifle is imprinted with information that the weapon is fully automatic. Further, the firearm was clean when it was stolen and dirty when recovered, evidencing that it had been fired.
The Eagle County detective who was the victim of this crime has since passed away from complications related to his cancer.
“The defendant stole special equipment designed solely for the use of law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “In the wrong hands, that equipment can be used for serious wrong-doing. Thanks to the hard work of the Eagle County Sheriff and the ATF, they were able to identify and arrest the person responsible for the theft. I would also like to give my condolences to the detective’s family and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, as I understand he recently passed away – Eagle County has lost a tremendous law enforcement officer.”
“Detectives from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office worked long and hard putting together the case against Keaton Bell. This included searches of vehicles and structures in other counties of Colorado,” said Eagle County Sheriff Joseph Hoy. “We appreciate the assistance of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies during this investigation. All Sheriff’s Office and Detective Kyle Hall’s personal weapons were recovered from Bell. Unfortunately, Detective Hall passed away on October 25th from complications of his cancer. He did not get a chance to see Mr. Bell be sentenced for his crimes.”
This case was investigated by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The defendant was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.