Grand County Business Owners Questioned About James Holmes

Did Suspect Use Remote Shooting Range To Practice?

Agents from the FBI and ATF are following what they believe could be the trail of James Holmes into the mountains of Grand County, trying to determine if the accused gunman drove more than two hours away from his Aurora apartment to practice shooting his guns.

Byers Canyon Rifle Range is a free, unsupervised public shooting range operated by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, about three miles outside of Hot Sulphur Springs.

Call7 Investigators have learned that several small business owners in Grand County have been contacted by the Feds. The businesses range from gun shops to motels.

Angus Simpson, owner of the Canyon Motel tells Call7 Investigator Keli Rabon he was questioned by federal agents earlier this week. He was shown pictures of Holmes with black hair, and a more recent photo of Holmes with red hair. Simpson says he did not recall anyone who looked like Holmes staying at his motel, being in the parking lot, or even eating at the restaurant next door where gun range users often gather.

Simpson said authorities told him they have some indication Holmes had come to Grand County to use the shooting range in June or July. But so far, Simpson said that no other business owners in town recall seeing Holmes either.

Clark Branstetter with C&M Gun Shop says he too was questioned about Holmes.

"They insinuated that he came up here more than once, okay, like he came here on occasion just to shoot," Branstetter said.

Both business owners say authorities indicated that Holmes may have come to Grand County in June or July.

Simpson says that he requires guests to present valid photo identification when checking in, so it would have been difficult for Holmes to use an alias. He says he has asked federal authorities for a list of Holmes' associates to check his database for those names too, but so far, those names have not been provided.

If you have a news tip, or follow-up to this story, e-mail me. You can also connect with me on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon.

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