According to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, 45-year-old Hanme K. Clark was taken into custody by New Mexico State Police. He was driving a white truck police were searching for, and investigators said there was a female in the vehicle with him.
At around 2:30 p.m. Monday, a shelter-in-place was issued for the area of Rocky Ridge Road in Westcliffe while police investigated the shooting. The small rural community only has a population of 435 people.
Other neighbors not involved in the shooting have accused Clark of harassing them, denying them court-ordered use of part of his property to access their property, and posting signs saying he was armed, court records said.
According to the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, multiple people were shot over what they believe was a dispute between neighbors over easement lines.
The shooting broke out early Monday afternoon as a surveyor was working on a property owned by Rob Geers near Clark’s, near Westcliffe about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Colorado Springs. The town is set in a valley between two mountain ranges and the area is home to both farms and ranches as well as vacation homes.
The surveyor told investigators that a man Geers identified as Clark approached them, yelling about trespassing, and then started to shoot. The surveyor was able to escape, running to a home about a half mile away, Clark’s arrest affidavit said.
The sheriff’s office identified the slain victims as 63-year-old Rob Geers; his wife, 73-year-old Beth Wade; and 58-year-old James Daulton. An additional female victim was critically injured.
Deputies believe Clark knew at least one of the victims.
Rob Geers had accused Clark of trespassing on his land four times, court records in the shooting case said. On Nov. 17, Geers said a hidden camera captured an image of a man dressed in hunting gear and carrying a rifle, his face covered, on his land that he said he was sure was Clark. He also claimed that Clark and his girlfriend had “decided to target him and his wife with harassment and trespassing” and had been concerned about a weapon being seen.
During a press conference Tuesday, Custer County Sheriff Rich Smith laid out the timeline of Monday’s events:
- 12:59 p.m.: 911 call about shooting is received
- 1:01 p.m.: Deputies dispatched to the scene
- 1:21 p.m.: Two deputies arrive at the scene with the coroner and deputy coroner
Smith said the reason it took 22 minutes for deputies to arrive is because this occurred in a rural area of the county — a wooded area along a gravel road.
Deputies from Custer County searched the area until 8 p.m. for Clark, with assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other agencies. Once the area was cleared, the shelter-in-place order was lifted. Smith said it is now believed that Clark left the area before the first deputies arrived.
Because of the darkness in this area, the sheriff said the crime scene was held overnight so that investigators could examine it in daylight Tuesday.
It was not clear if Clark had an attorney who would comment on his behalf. A telephone message left for a lawyer who represented Clark in the lawsuit over the easement was not immediately returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.