UPDATED May 12, 7:30 p.m. | Ornelas Was Out On Bond Awaiting Trial When He Shot CSP Trooper

05/09/14 | By | 103 views More
CSP Trooper Eugene Hofack is in serious but stable condition after being shot during a routine stop on Thursday, May 8.

CSP Trooper Eugene Hofack is in serious but stable condition after being shot during a routine stop on Thursday, May 8.

Trooper Eugene Hofacker Has Undergone Multiple Surgeries

By William Woody

MONTROSE – Thomas Ornelas, who shot veteran Colorado State Patrol Trooper Eugene Hofacker, last week along Interstate 70, is described by people who knew him here in Montrose as warm and friendly, but was a troubled man who suffered with “demons,” and has a history of prior arrests.

Montrose resident Ornelas, 40, was shot and killed after firing upon two CSP troopers in the eastern part of Garfield County along I-70, close to mile marker 129 near Dotsero, on Thursday, May 8. Hofacker’s partner, Shane Gosnell, returned fire, killing Ornelas in his vehicle after Ornelas shot Trooper Hofacker, 31, twice, as he approached.

Hofacker has undergone multiple surgeries since the May 8 shooting, with no updates from CSP since the May 8 reports. “I want to let you know that Trooper Hofacker is awake this morning and communicating with us,” CSP reported Friday, in a press release. “He is in good spirits as he prepares for additional surgery today,” said Colonel Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Please keep Eugene and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

The two troopers pulled off I-70 at about 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, May 8, to “assist a motorist.” When they approached the vehicle, Onelas opened fire; according to scanner traffic, Onelas was pronounced dead on the scene.

“The heroic actions of Trooper Gosnell saved the life of Trooper Hofacker,” Hernandez said in the May 9 press release.

At the time of the shooting, Ornelas was out free on a $75,000 bond and awaiting trial this fall for second-degree murder, out of Mesa County, where records say he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, assault with extreme indifference, criminal mischief, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and illegal discharge of a firearm.

It was a condition of his bond that he not possess any firearms.

According to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation report, Ornelas was first arrested in 1991, at age 17; as an adult, he was convicted of homicide. He was jailed in 1991 in Canon City, and paroled in 2002, according to the Department of Corrections. According to court records, Ornelas was arrested multiple times in Montrose, over the years, for parole violations, misdemeanor assault and protection order violations. In one conviction, he was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.

He was sent back to prison in 2003 for a parole violation, and released in 2004. In October 2005, he was released from his 18-year sentence, according to the CBI report.

In Montrose, news of the shootings triggered a heavy social media response from Onelas’s friends.

“So a friend of mine was shot and killed today…. Yes I was a friend of Thomas Onelas,” read one Facebook post; another post revealed Onelas had attended an “open mic night” at a downtown bar on Monday, May 5.

“It sucks that I couldn’t say goodbye to the guy, It also sucks that his demons chased him into a corner that he couldn’t escape. I pray for your soul, Thomas…I hope you have found Peace…And I pray for the trooper that stood in the way of you finding that peace. Safe recovery to Eugene Hofacker and your family,” one friend wrote.

Most posts regarding Onelas read “RIP Thomas,” but a few posters remembered playing cards with a man who was “such a nice guy to be around,” and who left behind a young daughter. “I’m completely at lost for words right now,” one of Onelas’s friends wrote on Facebook. “What a messed-up situation. I am so sad to hear that I will never see your smiling face again. You were truly an amazing friend. Good to everyone you knew. Until we meet again, Rest in Peace T!”

Another said Onelas’s Montrose home was “robbed last night” after news of his death reached town.

Wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery can be sent to Trooper Hofacker care of Colorado State Patrol Troop 4C, 202 Centennial St. Glenwood Springs, Colo., 81601.

wwoody@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter.com/williamwoodyCO

 

PUBLISHED on May 9:

MONTROSE – Thomas Ornelas, who shot a veteran Colorado State Patrol Trooper Thursday morning along Interstate 70, is described by people who knew him here in Montrose as warm and friendly, but was a troubled man who suffered with “demons,” and has a history of prior arrests.

Montrose resident Ornelas, 41, was shot and killed after firing upon two CSP troopers in the eastern part of Garfield County along I-70 near mile marker 129 near Dotsero yesterday. The second trooper, who has not been identified, was not injured.

Trooper Eugene Hofacker,31, who was shot, was listed in critical but stable condition yesterday; a news release this morning said he was awake and in good spirits.

“I want to let you know that Trooper Hofacker is awake this morning and communicating with us. He is in good spirits as he prepares for additional surgery today,” said Colonel S. Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Please keep Eugene and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

The two troopers pulled off I-70 at about 9 a.m. Thursday to “assist a motorist,” and when they approached the vehicle, Onelas opened fire on them. Onelas was shot and killed in the gunfire exchange, and pronounced dead on the scene.

In Montrose, news of the shootings triggered a heavy social media response from friends of Onelas, who pronounced themselves in shock and devastated over hearing about his involvement in the shootings, and praying for the recovery of Hofacker.

“So a friend of mine was shot and killed today… .Yes I was a friend of Thomas Onelas,” read one Facebook

post. Another post said Onelas had attended an “open mic night” at a downtown bar on Monday.

“It sucks that I couldn’t say goodbye to the guy, It also sucks that his demons chased him into a corner that he couldn’t escape. I pray for your soul, Thomas…I hope you have found Peace…And I pray for the trooper that stood in the way of you finding that peace. Safe recovery to Eugene Hofacker and your family,” one friend wrote.

Most of the posts read “RIP Thomas” but others said they remembered playing cards with the man stating “he was such a nice guy to be around.”

“I’m completely at lost for words right now,” one person wrote. “What a messed up situation. I am so sad to hear that I will never see your smiling face again. You were truly an amazing friend. Good to everyone you knew. Until we meet again Rest in Peace T!”

Another said Onelas’s Montrose home was “robbed last night” after news of his death reached town.

According to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation report, Ornelas was first arrested in 1991, at age 17; as an adult, he was convicted of homicide. We served 12 years and was paroled in 2002, according to the Department of Corrections.

According to court records, Ornelas was arrested multiple times in Montrose over the years for parole violations, misdemeanor assault and protection order violations. In one conviction, he was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.

Ornelas was free on a $75,000 bond and awaiting trial for attempted second-degree murder Thursday, when he was killed.

In 2013, Ornelas was arrested on charges out of Mesa County. Records reveal charges including attempted second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with extreme indifference, criminal mischief, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and illegal discharge of a firearm.

Wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery can be sent to Trooper Hofacker care of Colorado State Patrol Troop 4C, 202 Centennial St. Glenwood Springs, Colo., 81601.

wwoody@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter.com/williamwoodyCO

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