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Man With AR-15 Threatens Firefighter In Marshall Fire Evacuation Area, ‘You’ll Need To Take Me Out’

Louisville, CO – Police arrested a man who threatened fire officials with an AR-15 on New Year’s Eve when he was asked to leave the Marshall Fire evacuation area.

The incident occurred at about 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 31 near St. Andrews Lane and Dillon Road, inside the perimeter of the evacuation zone established where the terrifying blaze roared through less than a day earlier and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, KCNC reported.

The Louisville Police Department said in a press release that there was a confrontation after a Denver Fire Department assistant chief approached 24-year-old Stephen Roch, who was walking a labradoodle near a vehicle parked on the side of the road nearby burned-out homes, KUSA reported.

Firefighters approached Roch and Denver Assistant Fire Chief Marc Wiedrrich told the man he needed to leave the area because the evacuation order was still in effect, KDVR reported.

But Roch had other ideas, KCNC reported.

“If you want me out, you’ll need to take me out, and I have an AR-15,” Roch told the assistant fire chief, according to the police report.

The report said the assistant fire chief asked Roch if he was threatening him, KCNC reported.

Roch responded by giving him the middle finger, so the firefighters called the police to have the man removed from the perimeter.

Wiedrrich told police later that he didn’t think his life was in danger but he wasn’t going to test Roch to find out, KUSA reported.

The arrest affidavit said the assistant fire chief told officers that he thought Roch was upset over having lost his home and “wasn’t gonna take anything and was gonna do what he wanted.”

When officers arrived on the scene, Roch got into his vehicle with his dog and drove away through rubble to get to a road, according to charging documents.

Louisville police officers followed Roch’s SUV and stopped him shortly thereafter on Dillon Road between 96th and 88th streets, KUSA reported.

Officials said that Roch was taken into custody without incident.

Charging documents showed that when officers search Roch’s vehicle, they found a loaded AR-15 rifle out of its case and sitting on the backseat of the SUV with its safety off, KUSA reported.

Officers also found 2,000 rounds of ammunition for the semiautomatic rifle, a 9mm handgun, and loose 9mm ammunition inside the vehicle.

Roch was booked into the Boulder County Jail on charges of menacing with a weapon, obstructing government operations, obstructing a peace officer/firefighter, eluding, and criminal trespass, KCNC reported.

He was being held in lieu of a $30,000 bond and was scheduled for a second court appearance on Wednesday.

Roch’s arrest records showed that 10 officers who had been working rescue efforts in the wake of the fire had to be pulled away to assist in taking the heavily-armed man into custody in the evacuation zone, KDVR reported.

Public records showed that Roch and his family lived in the burned-out block where he was initially found by firefighters, KCNC reported.

Charging document showed the family’s home had been lost in the Marshall Fire.

“I think he was angry and upset like a lot of people are, but that’s not the way to handle it,” Louisville Police Chief Dave Hayes told reporters at a press conference on Jan. 2.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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