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Murder and mayhem in Walsenburg

• Sheriff calls in Pueblo SWAT team for search

• Suspect surrenders peacefully


story and photos by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — A 30-year old Pueblo man with family ties to Walsenburg and Huerfano County is in custody at the county jail here in connection with the early morning stabbing death of a Trinidad man.

Kevin Vigil

After a day-long search for clues on Saturday, Jan. 20, which included execution of a search warrant in Walsenburg, Kevin Vigil surrendered peacefully to authorities Saturday night at his grandfather’s ranch located approximately five miles west of Gardner.

Pueblo SWAT executes a search warrant at 211 Tyler in Walsenburg. The surrounding block was alerted by a Code Red to stay indoors. Photo by Brian Orr.

Vigil was advised via a video link on his initial arrest charges on Monday, Jan. 22; murder after deliberation, a class one felony. His next court appearance is set for return for filing of formal charges at 1:30 pm Monday, Feb. 12. Vigil is alleged to have stabbed David Martinez, 37, during an altercation sometime between 1:30 and 2 am Saturday in the 300 block of W. Seventh Street in Walsenburg.

Stabbing victim David Martinez, taken from his Facebook page.

According to a press release issued Monday, Jan. 22 by Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman, “The car the victim and his girlfriend were in was taken by Vigil and two other suspects.” The information regarding the homicide and car theft was broadcast to area police agencies, and about 5 am Saturday, Pueblo police spotted the vehicle on the city’s south side near Beckwood Park. Pueblo police initiated a pursuit and during the chase two of the three vehicle’s occupants fled on foot. The pursuit continued to an area near I-25 and Abriendo Ave. when a juvenile driving the stolen Kia Sportage crashed the car into a Pueblo police car. Two officers were transported to an area hospital with non life-threatening injuries and after a short struggle the juvenile was taken into custody.

A PCSO deputy (left), and Huerfano Sheriff Bruce Newman, and Captain Milan Rapo await word of the search warrant results.

While it is suspected Vigil may have made an escape prior to the car crash, only the juvenile male was in the car at the time of the crash. Huerfano investigators indicated early this week they believe Vigil did make it to Pueblo Saturday morning, but for some reason he returned to Huerfano County the same day.

When the stabbing incident was reported, Sheriff Newman, who had been responding with other deputies to an unrelated incident, returned immediately to the Seventh Street location and assisted in securing that crime scene. Sheriff Newman notified the Colorado Bureau of Investigation when authorities were notified Martinez had died at Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center from his wounds.

Bloodstains on the sidewalk along 7th St where Martinez was stabbed. Photo by Brian Orr.

CBI responded to Walsenburg and began checking business surveillance video along West Seventh and assisting in interviews with Martinez’s girlfriend, who was unharmed in the altercation.

Later in the day Saturday, the suspect’s identity was confirmed and investigators began to prepare a search warrant for his mother’s home in the 200 block of Tyler Street in Walsenburg. The Pueblo Police Department’s SWAT team was notified and came to Walsenburg to assist in the execution of the search warrant.

Law enforcement agents keep eyes on the suspect’s mother’s home on Tyler Street Saturday prior to the arrival of a SWAT team from Pueblo.

Four individuals were in the Tyler Street residence when the warrant was served, according to investigators, however, the suspect was not among them. No one from the home was arrested in connection with the homicide investigation.

Pueblo hostage negotiators who work with the SWAT team were finally able to speak with the suspect on the phone Saturday evening. Vigil confirmed where he was, and agreed to surrender to authorities. That surrender came about at approximately 7:30 pm Saturday at the ranch outside of Gardner. Vigil was transported to the Huerfano County Jail.

While the victim’s car was stolen in the altercation, some investigators believe there may have been other motives for the attack.

The investigation to identify any other suspects connected to the crime continued this week.

Sheriff Newman’s press release on Monday said the arrest was enacted through a combined effort involving the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Pueblo SWAT unit, the Pueblo police negotiating team and FBI Safe Streets Task Force. “We would like to thank all agencies for their fast response and quick, safe apprehension of the suspect,” Sheriff Newman said.

Pueblo Police SWAT team members head to the residence on Tyler Street to assist in executing a search warrant late Saturday afternoon.

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