By Jeff Todd
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A professional cyclist has lost his job after being accused of firing his gun at a hillside between homes while on a training ride.
Daniel Summerhill rode for the United Healthcare team until he resigned on Tuesday, the same day he pleaded not to a citation for disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.
“I was just sitting right here reading and saw him from this chair. Just seeing a cyclist reach for something out of their back and I was like ‘that’s a gun,’” said Kristen Flannery, a resident on South Deer Creek Road.
“It was just so reckless, so outlandish,” said Joe Porter, who chased after the cyclist. ““Interestingly enough he was the only cyclist on the road that day which is very unusual so the angels were on our side. But I started filming him with a digital camera.”
Porter says at first the cyclist didn’t admit to firing the gun. Deputies eventually found three shell casings in the road but witnesses say they heard five shots fired.
“He kind of wheeled his bike around and said, ‘I admit it, it was me.’ He said he wasn’t aware it was a residential area which was somewhat vexing. He said he had a really rough day and needed to vent,” Porter said.
Porter left the cyclist before gathering a form of identification, but then realized the cycling outfit the suspect was wearing was unique. Porter and his wife found the United Healthcare racing team website and looked through the roster to identify Summerhill.
“He was wearing the team uniform from the website. If he hadn’t, we probably wouldn’t have found him,” Porter said. “As a society we can’t just act out when we’re having a bad day. There are a lot of ways to vent, but you can’t put other people’s lives in danger when you’re doing it.”
Summerhill told a deputy in an interview he didn’t know he violated any laws and didn’t think he was in a residential area.
“He had been involved in an incident the summer prior in the same area where other people had been shooting and he had contacted the sheriff’s office and was told that it was alright for them to shoot where they were, so he figured that he could do so as well,” case documents state.
“He says it wasn’t residential? I feel like that doesn’t hold water,” Flannery said. “And that was my question too. Why do you have a gun on you when you’re riding your bicycle?”
Sumerhill’s former team said in a statement: “Momentum Sports Group holds our athletes to the highest standards of ethical conduct and accountability — both on and off the road. Following an internal investigation, we accepted Mr. Summerhill’s resignation from the team, effective immediately. The personal actions of one individual do not represent the values of our dedicated athletes, sponsors or fans, and we offer our sincerest apologies to anyone who may have been impacted.”
Porter and Flannery are hoping Summerhill faces a stiffer charge in the case for firing from the roadway. The next court hearing is July 12.
“The fact that if he had hit my wife after 30 years of marriage and the impact it would have had on her, that’s what sticks with me. That’s what’s intolerable — the fact that he was that close,” Porter said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.