By Paul Shockley
Monday, March 25, 2013
A man with a history of domestic violence and alcohol-related offenses was found dead in his rural Montrose County home Monday morning, roughly eight hours after he twice shot a Montrose County sheriff’s deputy during a domestic violence call.
Deputy Corey Larsen was shot in the abdomen and chest—one of the rounds was stopped by the deputy’s protective vest—and was stable Monday afternoon after surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital, said Katie Yergensen, Montrose County spokeswoman.
Yergensen said Larsen, who was accompanied by a field training deputy, Dustin Harlow, who had been on the job just six weeks, came under fire after walking up to the front door of a home at 81301 E 81 Road. The home is about 8 miles east of Crawford off Colorado Highway 92.
One of the men scrambled back to a patrol vehicle and radioed for help, Yergensen said. Harlow wasn’t injured.
Shots rang out after the deputies had announced their presence, although it wasn’t clear whether they’d knocked before coming under fire, she said.
Deputies were trying to contact the suspect in a domestic violence call reported at 1:49 a.m. by a woman, who’d called 911 from the safety of a friend’s home in Crawford, according to Yergensen.
Yergensen said around 9:45 a.m.—only after a large contingent of law enforcement from Montrose, Delta and Mesa counties had staged near the E 81 Road home—authorities entered the home and found the suspected shooter dead. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation assumed a lead role in the case.
Although the Montrose County Coroner’s office on Monday had not released the deceased man’s identity or cause of death, neighbors and law enforcement identified him as 52-year-old Kent Calhoun. Tax records show the property where the incident occurred is owned by the Fruitland Irrigation Co., and the president of the company confirmed to The Daily Sentinel Monday that its ditch rider lives on the property.
He identified the employee as Calhoun, and said that he was forced to fire him from the job just last week.
“He doesn’t have a driver’s license, because he had a DUI or he had been in jail two or three times,” said Danny Todd, president of the shareholder-owned and board-directed irrigation company.
“We had to let him go because for the job, it takes a driver’s license,” Todd said, adding that Calhoun had 30 days to leave the property since losing his job.
Delta County court records show Calhoun received a one-year suspended jail sentence, and two years of probation, and was ordered to complete alcohol classes after pleading guilty Oct. 31, 2012, to driving while ability impaired and a lane-use violation.
Calhoun was pulled over July 2, 2012, behind the wheel of a Dodge pickup which was observed by a Delta County deputy weaving and nearly hitting a guard rail just west of Hotchkiss, according to an arrest affidavit. Driving on roughly one mile after the deputy had activated overhead lights trying to make a stop, Calhoun was taken into custody after nearly collapsing because of apparent intoxication when he got out his truck and “failed to make a choice” after being advised seven times about Colorado’s express consent law, the affidavit said.
CBI records indicate he was arrested in 1981 and 2004 for alcohol-related driving offenses. Included was a Dec. 21, 2004, stop by a state wildlife officer on Colorado Highway 65 when Calhoun explained he was “too (expletive) up” to perform roadside sobriety maneuvers, according to court records.
Officers also seized a .223 Savage rifle from the rear seat of Calhoun’s pickup during the 2004 arrest.
Yergensen said she couldn’t confirm the type of weapon believed to be involved in Monday’s shooting.
Calhoun was again allegedly intoxicated when he was arrested June 29, 2008, on suspicion of domestic violence, criminal mischief and third-degree assault when he repeatedly shoved a woman, threw her down on a bed and choked her before pursuing her in his truck when she fled in another vehicle, according to court records.
The identity of the victim was removed by Delta County court staff in records provided to the Sentinel.
Calhoun received a deferred judgment and the District Attorney’s Office dismissed charges on Oct. 26, 2009.
Seen by neighbors
Clifford Reed and his wife, Fern, who live one quarter mile away from the scene of Monday’s shooting, said he last saw Calhoun “a couple days ago” when Calhoun was opening up a dam to release water.
“I asked him if they were keeping him busy and he said ‘yeah,” Reed said.
The couple reported hearing a helicopter land and take off around 5 a.m., before sheriff’s representatives called and warned them to stay indoors because of a disturbance. Calhoun had been living at the property, with his wife, for about three to four years, they said.
Neither could recall a time when law enforcement was called out to the Calhoun home, prior to Monday.
“They’re pretty good people as far as I know,” Reed said.
Staff writer Duffy Hayes contributed to this report.