By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) – The day after CBS4 reported one Park County deputy resigned and the undersheriff was suspended with pay, dramatically different accounts emerged of what led to Deputy Welles Tonjes’ resignation.READ MORE: Blue Angels Jet Makes Emergency Landing At Great Colorado Air Show
On Monday, Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener informed Tonjes that he was being demoted from his sergeant position. Tonjes then resigned.
The Tonjes resignation and suspension of Undersheriff Monte Gore came less than a week after Park County Cpl. Nate Carrigan was killed in the line of duty while serving an eviction notice.
In a statement released Thursday, Wegener said Tonjes and Gore “were disciplined for incidents surrounding the aftermath of the shooting. They were not involved in the planning or execution of the eviction at 36 Iris.”
But in a phone interview Wednesday evening, Tonjes told CBS4 he was deeply involved in the planning of the Feb. 24 eviction action. He said he and other deputies had been “working on this five weeks. I had originally said four guys to do this eviction.” Tonjes said the suspect had made an earlier threat “how he was going to shoot the next cop he saw.” So Tonjes said, “We had anticipated that (SWAT) is what it might turn into.”
On Monday of this week Tonjes said Sheriff Wegener told him he was being demoted for two phone calls he made related to the eviction, including one with Cpl.l Carrigan just hours before the operation commenced. Tonjes recounted calling Carrigan the morning of the eviction and discussing the pending operation.
“I was concerned about their safety. He (Carrigan) was concerned about this. We all were,” recalled Tonjes.READ MORE: Marijuana Social Equity Fair Seeks To Level The Playing Field For Communities Of Color
He said he discussed tactics with his subordinate and that the two did not see eye to eye on how to handle things. Tonjes said he told Carrigan they did not have a warrant and the eviction was a civil matter.
“You can’t come on like stormtroopers,” Tonjes recalls telling Carrigan. “Carrigan was upset,” said Tonjes.
The former sergeant’s account of why he was told he was being demoted and his involvement in the eviction planning stands in stark contrast to the sheriff’s account. In his Thursday news release, Wegener said he would be making no additional statements.
Now Tones says he believes he is a fall guy for an operation that ended with two men dead.
“I believe now they are looking for a scapegoat,” said Tonjes.
He said when the actual gunfire began he was across the county in Fairplay interviewing a candidate for a job.
“I’m as shocked as anyone,” said Tonjes of the demotion action that led to his quitting.MORE NEWS: Hikers Discouraged From Climbing Kit Carson Peak As Madeline Baharlou-Quivey's Body Recovered