NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, May 1, 2020

LPD officer fired following domestic battery charges

LARAMIE (WNE) – An officer with the Laramie Police Department has been fired after being charged with domestic battery.

At the time of the incident, Michael Morrow, 43, was the spouse of Albany County District Judge Tori Kricken. In an interview with the Boomerang, Morrow said divorce papers have since been filed.

Morrow said he was fired from the LPD following the incident. The LPD declined to comment, citing personnel matters.

According to an affidavit filed on April 24, University of Wyoming Police officers responded to Kricken and Morrow’s residence after a report of a verbal domestic disturbance on the evening of April 8.

UWPD officers interviewed Morrow and Kricken. According to the affidavit, Kricken told officers that Morrow had thrown her to the ground multiple times following a verbal argument.

The affidavit records Kricken saying, “when he gets mad I can’t hold my own my own against him.” She told officers that she was not hurt and did not want anything done that night.

Officers spoke to Kricken again the following day, and Kricken told officers that she had discovered bruising from the night before. Kricken came to the UWPD, and officers documented bruising on her left lower forearm and upper portion of her right buttock.

In an interview with the Boomerang, Morrow said that he acted in self-defense and that Kricken was an aggressor in the altercation.

Morrow was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic battery of a household member. If found guilty, he could face up to 6 months incarceration, up to a $750 fine, or both.


Gillette bar owner ticketed for allowing drinking on-site

GILLETTE (WNE) — The owner of The Office Saloon in Gillette has been ticketed for violating state COVID-19 health orders for allowing dozens of people to drink on the bar’s property.

Campbell County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the bar twice Wednesday after receiving reports of about 50 people gathered outside the bar having drinks, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said. 

When deputies arrived at the bar at 3 p.m. Wednesday, they found about six people inside sitting at the bar drinking water and eating food, Reynolds said. The bar owner told deputies the people were workers on a break. Another complaint brought deputies back to the bar about three hours later.

They were greeted by a large group of customers drinking on site who were disgruntled with Gov. Mark Gordon’s orders. Deputies broke up the party, Reynolds said.

The bar’s owner told deputies that Dr. Kirtikumar Patel, Campbell County’s public health officer, gave his permission for the bar to serve alcohol at tables outside, Reynolds said.

That claim was untrue, said Ivy McGowan, spokeswoman for Campbell County Public Health. 

In fact, she said The Office Saloon had been warned twice — once verbally and another time in writing — earlier this month about serving customers on the property while the state’s public health orders are in effect.

“What’s really important to understand is both the deputies as well as Dr. Patel have tried really hard not to go down this route,” McGowan said about ticketing the business. “We put forth every effort to avoid having to issue citations.”

Also Wednesday afternoon, the owner of Uncle Fredie’s Junkyard Grill was warned by Gillette Police after finding about 20 customers sitting outside eating and drinking alcohol, said Lt. Brent Wasson.


B-T campgrounds closed through May, roads sloppy

JACKSON (WNE) – The Bridger-Teton National Forest has now partly aligned with Wyoming’s other national forests, which have temporarily closed developed campgrounds in response to the coronavirus crisis.

A fire ban has not been ordered, unlike Wyoming’s six national forests east of the Continental Divide in the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region. But the Bridger-Teton is “asking” recreationists to refrain from building campfires for the time being.

The temporary closures were deemed necessary to address health and safety concerns for employees and the public.

“While we know that going outside provides forest visitors needed space, exercise and mental health, we are taking the risks presented by COVID-19 seriously,” Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor said in a statement.

Closed areas and services also include Granite Hot Springs and manmade facilities like picnic areas and tables, potable water stations, fire rings and grills, flush and vaulted toilets, and trash cans and dumpsters.

Dispersed recreation and camping on the 3.4-million-acre Bridger-Teton are not affected, including trailheads, parking areas and trails.

But for now, much of the forest is still locked in snow and ice, and roads remain muddy if not snowed over and closed.

Pritchard Pass along Fall Creek Road, for example, is still completely snowed over and closed. Gros Ventre Road is a mess and 4-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended, but the route will open from Atherton Creek to Slate Creek at 6:15 a.m. Friday.

“Antler hunters should expect to have to walk or ride horses to more locations this year,” the forest posted.

The Bridger-Teton’s temporary order closing developed areas extends through May 31.