Charles Oliver Evans, whose body was found southeast of Cortez on May 2, was a suspect in a shooting at the time of his death, according to the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office.
An autopsy showed that Evans died of hypothermia not long after fleeing the scene of the shooting, said Sheriff Steve Nowlin. A toxicology report is pending.
The 26-year-old Cortez resident was suspected of shooting Ocean Rodd, 19, in the neck with a .22-caliber rifle the night of March 27 at Space No. 2 in Vista Verde Village mobile home park in Cortez.
Rodd was taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital and then to San Juan Medical in Farmington. He survived.
“Evans apparently fled the scene, and likely passed away that night, which was in the 20s with snow and rain,” Nowlin said.
His death has been ruled an accident, and the shooting case is closed, Nowlin said.
According to deputy reports, the shooting occurred between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 27 during a fight at the mobile home park.
Witnesses told deputies that several friends were hanging out when resident Stefen Chihocky, 26, and visitor Keyan Reeves-Fielding, 21, began fighting over a jacket. Evans, who lived next door at No. 20, came in with a rifle and asked Reeves-Fielding, “Are you (expletive deleted) with my homie?”
Rodd stepped in front of Evans and “told him to relax,” and Evans shot him once from 8 feet away and fled the scene, according to the report and investigation. A search of the residence revealed a box of used hypodermic needles and gun cleaning equipment. A neighbor told sheriff’s deputies the residence has been a problem because of parties and careless use of weapons.
“Something bad was bound to happen,” the neighbor said.
He added that earlier in March a resident at No. 19 was showing his girlfriend how to use a rifle when she accidentally shot the boyfriend in the foot. The incident was not reported to police.
Rodd’s gunshot wound March 27 passed through his neck and missed vital organs.
Rodd told sheriff’s investigators “he was happy to be alive, and was going to leave town and go back to school.”
Evans’ body was discovered by a passerby in a private field south of Denny Lake near McElmo Creek, triggering an investigation and extensive search of the area by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and United Search and Rescue. He was reported missing by his family on April 5.