NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

Multiple people shot early Tuesday morning in Cheyenne

CHEYENNE (WNE) – Three people were shot near the Loaf ’N Jug on Dell Range Boulevard early Tuesday morning in Cheyenne, police officials have confirmed.

Cheyenne Police Department officers quickly responded to a call that came in from the area near the gas station and convenience store around 1 a.m. Tuesday. Upon arriving to the scene, within a few minutes, officers found two men who had suffered gunshot wounds.

Lonnie Lieurance Jr. and Larry Turner were given immediate medical attention, and they were still alive as of Wednesday afternoon, according to CPD Lt. Rob Dafoe.

On Wednesday, CPD investigators learned of a “third party” that was shot during the same incident, Dafoe said. They eventually located the additional victim, 41-year-old Jana Hurd, and she is also receiving medical treatment for her gunshot wound.

“Her injuries were not as serious as the other two,” Dafoe said.

All three of the victims live in Laramie County. While local police had yet to make any arrests connected to the incident as of Wednesday, Dafoe said there is no at-large shooter for the public to worry about it.

“We feel confident that we have established all the players,” Dafoe said.

The investigation is ongoing, and more details on the incident may be released Thursday.


Campbell County sends firefighters to help contain Oregon fires

GILLETTE (WNE) –  The Campbell County Fire Department recently sent two firefighters to Oregon to help fight the wildland fires raging along the West and Northwest coasts, as part of a multi-state task force to provide help.

Brush 2, one of the department’s larger wildland fire trucks also was sent to fight the Echo Mountain Complex Fire in Oregon.

The Campbell County unit is part of a larger multi-state strike force made up of 27 firefighters and 10 vehicles from fire departments in Wyoming, South Dakota and Kansas, according to a Wyoming State Forestry Division press release.

“No single state or agency has all the resources needed to deal with fires of this magnitude,” said Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser in the press release. “Wyoming has received lots of resources over the years from other states and are glad that we are able to send support to them when needed.”

As of Wednesday morning, the Echo Mountain Complex Fire — which began Sept. 7 and is near the western coast of Oregon — is about 2,500 acres and about 40% contained.

The Echo Mountain Complex Fire is one of several wildland fires burning in Oregon and a part of a larger trend of active wildland fires throughout the Western United States.

The strike force assignment is for 18 days and will help Oregon battle multiple fires throughout the state, the press release said.


Plane lands on belly at Riverton airport; no injuries

RIVERTON — No one was injured when a private plane landed without wheels Saturday at Central Wyoming Regional Airport in Riverton.

Airport manager Paul Griffin said the pilot – an older local man – “either forgot to put the landing gear down, or he didn’t put it down all the way.”

Either way, Griffin said, when the plane touched down at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, the wheels were up – unbeknownst to the pilot.

“He just did a normal landing,” Griffin said, later calling it “a beautiful landing.”

The pilot told reporters at the scene that he had lowered the landing gear as usual and assumed that the wheels were down properly.

The plane stayed upright throughout the incident, Griffin said, and no fuel was spilled.

“The belly made contact and slid,” he said, noting that the plane’s propellers struck the runway first.

Witnesses at the scene said they could see the bent propeller tips, and Griffin said there were marks on the runway where the propellers, and then the rest of the aircraft, struck the ground.

There was no real damage to the runaway surface, however, Griffin said,  “just some scratches.”

“The aluminum lost to the concrete,” he said.

The airplane was damaged, but Griffin said the decades-old Mooney four-seater likely can be rebuilt.

The pilot estimated that the plane slid about 50 yards after the rough landing.


Sleeping Giant Ski Area to go private

CODY (WNE) — Sleeping Giant Ski Area is in the process of changing hands to private ownership.

Nick Piazza, who grew up in Cody, is awaiting Forest Service approval to run the mountain. He will become the new owner of the ski area along with his wife Yulia Piazza. A Forest Service lease transfer is currently happening between the Yellowstone Recreations Foundation LLC and Piazzas.

Although the lease was submitted in early May, the Forest Service has still not approved the transfer. Piazza said he is confident this will be approved in the next few weeks.

He said he will be investing a “few hundred thousand dollars” in improvements to the mountain in an effort to make it a more feasible enterprise.

“This is my gift to the community,” he said.

Since reopening, the mountain has suffered a roughly $200,000 annual deficit.

Piazza said he will engage a roughly 20-25% increase in prices. After performing some research, he found that Sleeping Giant is the least expensive ski area in Wyoming, and even after the increase, expects it to still be one of the lowest.

“It will still be one of the cheapest, very likely one of the cheapest in America,” Piazza said.

He said he plans to invest in snowmaking in order to provide customers a consistent quality product. Also on the drawing board are investments in lighting to provide night skiing, and terrain park landscaping. Already started is work on a yurt at the base, that will provide additional seating for dining and lounging in a cozy setting.


Jackson cops, prosecutors attend implicit bias training

JACKSON (WNE) — The Jackson Police Department and the Teton County Sheriff’s Office hosted a training Monday designed for law enforcement and other local government employees to better understand implicit bias.

The training, taught by former FBI agent Michael “Bret” Hood, was paid for by a Community Foundation of Jackson Hole grant and cost about $3,500, Sheriff Matt Carr said.

About 60 people attended, including Jackson police officers, county sheriff’s deputies, dispatchers, county prosecutors, detention officers, town facilities employees, town administrative employees, Community Foundation staffers and some employees from Grand Teton National Park.

The training covered topics like how experience can lead to implicit bias and how biases affect decision-making in law enforcement and prosecution.

“Case studies were presented that identified ways implicit bias can affect the law enforcement professional’s behavior and ways to evaluate how implicit biases facilitate false confessions and erroneous convictions,” Jackson Police Sgt. Russ Ruschill wrote in a press release.

In the training, Hood encouraged law enforcement officers to be willing to check their own actions and those of their peers while doing their jobs, Sheriff Carr said.

“It’s about being open to review and being OK with being critiqued,” Carr said. “And the willingness to check each other and confront your peers and employees.”

The training is part of a promise Weber made to the community in August after the police department’s culture came into question when Lt. Roger Schultz posted what many called an offensive joke on the agency’s Facebook page.

Schultz’s subsequent resignation was the same day as former Chief Smith’s retirement. Weber has been leading the department since.