Police Hatched Elaborate Plan to Take Down Fugitives
When law enforcement discovered the fugitives were in town due to an accidental phone call and stolen license plate, they were able to track the four to a Canon City hotel.
From there they created an elaborate plan that involved the switching of hotel clerks to capture them.
One woman witnessed the takedown outside of her gas station.
U-Pump it station co-owner Jodi Gabriel was walking her dog, Rocky, when she saw a number of police cars in the area acting strange.
“See I saw the Pueblo County guy and he was like going really slow, he would like go to one car, and then go to the next car and I thought, that’s kind of weird,” says Gabriel.
Turns out they were tailing 17-year-old Brittany Rector who was at the wheel of the stolen Nissan and her passenger, 29-year-old Laura Grauman. Gabriel had seen the girls in the gas station a couple days before along with Greg Bradshaw and Kenneth Grauman II who had purchased gas there. She said they looked a bit “fishy”.
“My alert system is rocky and he literally kind of sat there at attention watching both of the guys,” says Gabriel. She says Laura Grauman paid, and she thought it was strange the men weren’t paying. Meanwhile, Rocy gave Grauman the stare-down.
“He was like he just kind of glared at me and looked at rocky. It was just kind of a weird kind of thing. Then, I heard they were over at the Conoco station right before that so I was like OK. Maybe the dog was a little bit of a deterant,” says Gabriel.
In fact, detectives had been following the fugitive’s movements at the nearby Royal Gorge Inn after the fugitives switched a license plate with another car, letting law enforcement know they were in the Nissan.
Laura Grauman also tried to call a relative, Jessica Payne, and instead called the wrong woman, Jessie Payne, who talked to US Marshals, further tipping them off.
“She says it’s Laura Lee, and I’m like ‘who? I don’t know who you are,’” says Jessie.
Surveillance teams including Ed Pendleton then surrounded this hotel, when the four were away. They swapped out the desk clerk at the Royal Gorge with a deputy and checked room number 216 to make sure it was empty.
“The female that works for Fremont County Sheriff’s Department had gone in and posed as the front desk clerk. They’d gone to check the room services and knew that the people weren’t there,” says Sergeant Pendleton.
Officers then hid in neighboring rooms waiting for when the girls dropped Grauman and Bradshaw off.
“They were in the hallway,” said Sergeant Pendleton.
They waited until the men were just starting to open their door, then they pounced. “We had SWAT officers from Pueblo County that were in the adjoining rooms around and they just stepped out and took them,” said Pendleton.
“The key objective is that we wanted to take them outside of the room.”
The girls had just dropped the guys off across the street in that stolen car when police made a felony stop near an intersection and took them down in front of the U Pump It gas station.
“I’m hearing all this yelling,” said Gabriel.
That’s when Gabriel realized the four were no ordinary customers. She says police surrounded the women and held them with automatic weapons drawn.
“There was at least 10 police cars out here,” says Gabriel. She says they pulled Laura out of the passenger seat first, then Brittany.
“And they basically had her nose to the ground, and she was basically told to kiss the ground and she did,” said Gabriel.
Gabriel says police bound both their hands and feet. She says Laura Grauman was running her mouth non-stop from the front of the squad car, but overall, it was a peaceful arrest.
“The only time I was scared was when I turned around and saw the big huge gun,” said Gabriel.