A La Plata County man suspected of attacking people and private property with a skid-steer loader last week has been charged with three felonies and seven misdemeanors.
John Westlund, 37, was charged Friday with two counts of menacing, one count of criminal mischief and seven counts of reckless endangerment, according to court records.
Westlund was arrested Feb. 22 in northern La Plata County. The incident occurred about 8:45 p.m. on Lake Purgatory Drive, near Purgatory Resort.
According to an arrest affidavit, Westlund, in a Bobcat skid-steer loader, approached people who were putting chains on their vehicles and began yelling and cursing at them.
Westlund allegedly told a man to get into his Chevrolet Malibu, then lifted the rear of the vehicle with the bucket of the Bobcat and pushed it about a half-mile down the road, according to the Colorado State Patrol. He then allegedly dropped the vehicle, “causing significant damage,” troopers wrote in an affidavit, and drove back to the group of people.
Westlund then allegedly used the bucket of the skid-steer loader to lift up the front of a Toyota Camry and drop it, also “causing significant damage,” troopers wrote in their report. At least one person involved said he feared for his life.
Troopers also reported finding “significant damage” to the front-end of the Toyota Camry and the rear-end of the Chevrolet Malibu. Witnesses told troopers the driver of the Bobcat “drove directly at them and they had to run out of the way,” according to the affidavit.
Troopers contacted Westlund in the Bobcat about a quarter-mile from where they had met with witnesses, police wrote. Westlund started driving at the troopers and didn’t show signs of slowing, police said. Troopers ran 57 feet to get out of the way of the equipment barreling toward them, they said. Both responding troopers feared for their lives, troopers wrote in their report
Westlund surrendered after police drew their guns, according to the affidavit.
Westlund told police he had been trying to help his neighbors when he lifted their vehicles with his Bobcat and denied trying to run them over, troopers wrote. Westlund also denied trying to harm troopers.
“He stated that he hadn’t been that close to us, and if he wanted to run us over, he would have,” troopers wrote.
Westlund’s bond was set at $25,000. His next court hearing is set for March 29, at which time he may enter a plea.