Fort Collins is an extremely friendly, cheerful place to live. It is consistently ranked as one of the happiest cities in the U.S., one of the top places to retire and was just named the third best college town to “live in forever” by College Ranker. The city is also known for being incredibly safe, as violent crime rates continue to decrease each year. In other words, Fort Collins is basically the Pleasantville of Colorado.
So, when a serious crime occurs in this city, it tends to disrupt the peace and have a major impact on the community. In the past year, five crimes have stood out in particular. (The Coloradoan, our friendly neighborhood city news outlet, covers crime beyond the reaches of campus, and details have been pulled from many of their articles for this compilation):
1. The eight assaults — October, 2014
In October of last year, a string of sexual and physical assaults began popping up all over the city at an alarming rate. Over a period of six weeks, eight women were sexually or physically assaulted. According to police, the assaults tended to happen to females who were outside and alone after 7 p.m., which caused women in the city to fear for their safety at night. The perpetrator was finally caught, and identified as Fort Collins resident Jose Angel Alderete-Gomez.
Gomez pled guilty to the series of assaults in March, as well as a separate charge of punching his girlfriend and breaking her nose in November 2014.
2. The murder-suicides of each summer — July 2014 and April 2015
In July 2014, a 73-year-old shot his grandson in the head and chest before turning the gun on himself. The grandson, Brandon Kapperman, had gone through some rough patches in his life, including stealing guns, diamond rings and valuables from his family members to pawn them to support a pain medication addiction. At the time of his death, there were two warrants out for his arrest for failing to appear in court.
In April 2015, Fort Collins saw another murder-suicide. Darrell Hoyer shot his wife Merta dead in their home, shot their two dogs then drove to a spot near his home, hiked a small ways and shot himself.
3. The Old Town stabbings — May and June 2015
Two men were stabbed in separate incidents; one at the end of May and one at the end of June. James Blair was stabbed in the stomach in Library Park in Old Town by a 40 to 45 year old suspect. He was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and recovered.
Several weeks later, Christopher Thrall reported being stabbed in the back near Old Town. He was taken to the hospital, released after a few hours, and promptly arrested for an outstanding felony warrant. The suspect? Only known by a street name, according to police, and not known to ever have been charged for the stabbing.
4. The 4th of July gang stand-off — July 2015
While families strolled in Old Town enjoying the fireworks display on the 4th of July this year, rival gang members were in a stand-off at City Park. There was a scuffle, and three men were left with stab wounds. Police are continually investigating gang activity in the city, and gang incidents can result in stabbings and other injuries occasionally.
There were at least 30 gang-related calls in the past year in Fort Collins, but this includes any crime in which a gang member was involved, which can be petty theft or other minor misdemeanors. Of the 30, seven were gang retaliation incidents, which included the stabbings and other violent events.
5. The murder at the Alley Cat — July 2015
26-year-old Andrew Watkins walked up to Randall Cargill, 25, in the alley behind the Alley Cat cafe. He shot him once, then let out a volley of bullets, killing Cargill within minutes.
Watkins then went straight to Larimer County jail to turn himself in. Police said that the investigation revealed the two men likely knew each other. According to a Coloradoan article, the two appeared to know each other in high school, though that was not confirmed by police.
Collegian Digital Managing Editor Caitlin Curley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @caitlinjcurley.