DEL NORTE- Law enforcement agencies from around the Valley and beyond were dispatched to the Lowes Valley Market in Del Norte at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, June 30, due to the report of a suspicious package left on top of the propane rack containing multiple 20 pound propane tanks at the entrance to the store.
Del Norte Police Chief Frank Archuleta evacuated the store shortly after arriving on scene and put the neighboring Casa De Rio Grande apartments, residential homes and River Valley Inn Nursing Home on a shelter in place order while requesting interagency assistance from the Rio Grande County Sheriff Department, Colorado State Patrol, Del Norte Fire Department, South Fork Police, SLV HAZMAT, Colorado HAZMAT, Pueblo Bomb Squad, CDOT and the Rio Grande Emergency Manager Art Wittner.
Once on scene, all responding agencies worked to clear Highway 160 from County Road 5 North to the Highway 160 and Highway 112 intersection in town. After traffic was redirected, it came down to a waiting game as law enforcement officials tried to piece together the incident. “We received surveillance footage from Lowes Valley Market but the image of the individual who left the package was grainy and hard to identify,” said Archuleta. “Although specific traits about clothing and other features were easy to identify.”
Valley Publishing received a call at 1:38 p.m. from Rio Grande Victim’s Advocate Courtney Arthur who asked for a reporter to come to the scene. After passing through the check point near County Road 5 North, the reporter witnessed a male individual dressed in a white T-shirt, dark colored pants and a backpack who jumped to the vacant highway and began walking east.
The reporter mentioned the individual to law enforcement who immediately responded and picked up the person of interest. Further details were unavailable as of Tuesday afternoon and will remain unavailable until a full investigation is completed.
The Pueblo Bomb Squad came on scene at 3:50 p.m. and within 10 minutes, issued the “all-clear.” It was confirmed that the suspicious package was a box full of circuit boards.
More details pertaining to the incident will be reported as they become available. A huge thanks goes out to all law enforcement and emergency personnel who work to keep the San Luis Valley communities safe.