GREELEY, Colo. — A Greeley man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for assaulting three law enforcement officers and attempting to blow up a methanol tank in unincorporated Weld County in 2019, the 19th Judicial District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.
Weld District Court Judge Timothy Kerns sentenced Stephen Garcia, 57, to 30 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections Wednesday. Garcia was found guilty of three counts of first degree assault, criminal attempt to commit possession of an explosive or incendiary device and reckless endangerment in June 2020.
On June 8, 2019, Weld County Sheriff's Office deputies, Colorado State Patrol troopers and Greeley police responded to a call of a suspicious person at an active oil drilling site at 10611 Highway 257 in unincorporated Weld County. The drilling site sits near the entrance to Missile Silo Park, which is a public park. A worker at the site told 911 dispatch they saw a man, later identified as Garcia, with a flare in his hand near tanks that contained highly flammable and explosive gasses.
When the first deputy arrived on scene, she saw Garcia attempting to ignite the gasses in the tank, according to 19th Judicial District Attorney's Office. Garcia told the deputy that she needed to leave him alone and that he was going to blow the tank up.
Firefighters determined there could have been a blast radius of up to a quarter of a mile if Garcia was successful. He continued to ignore verbal commands, the district attorney's office said, so officers fired bean bag rounds at him but were not successful.
As Garcia continued to move toward the tank, an officer at the scene shot him twice. He was shot once in the jaw and once in the shoulder, according to the district attorney's office. He was transported to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland for treatment.
“The defendant was high on methamphetamine during this incident,” Deputy District Attorney Chris Jewkes said. “While I sympathize with people who struggle with mental health issues, our job is to protect the community from people who put others at serious risk. The officers knew the risk they were going into when they approached the defendant as he attempted to light the methanol tank. These men and women are more than a badge. They are people, they have families, and they put themselves in danger each day to protect our community. It truly is a miracle that everyone walked away from what could have been a deadly incident.”