GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – A man believed to have fired his gun at workers on a Weld County oil well pad Monday was captured Thursday night in Denver.

Tyler James Van Auken, 31, was arrested after law enforcement tracked him to a hotel near the Denver International Airport.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office Strike Team took Van Auken into custody with the help of officers and SWAT personnel from the Denver Police Department as well as the FBI’s Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force.

Tyler Van Auken (credit: Weld County Sheriff’s Office)

Weld deputies were called to the work site at Weld County Roads 6 and 29 at 2:15 p.m. Monday. Workers and witnesses described hearing four or five gunshots from a white SUV as it drove by. The crew foreman chased the SUV, a reaction that could have resulted in a deadly encounter, WCSO spokesman Joseph Moylan told CBS4.

It did not, however, in this case. The crew foreman caught up to the white SUV when its driver pulled over to urinate and clearly photographed the driver and the vehicle’s license plate. Police publicized those photos.

(credit: Weld County Sheriff)

Thanks to the license plate, investigators later interviewed the registered owner of the SUV, a white Chevrolet Trailblazer. The woman told them Van Auken was driving her vehicle while intoxicated and “decided it would be fun to fire randomly out the window,” according to WCSO’s press release.

(credit: Weld County Sheriff)

The woman allowed police to search her Trailblazer but the handgun was not found.

Investigators phoned Van Auken but he was uncooperative. A warrant for his arrest was issued earlier Thursday.

A search of online criminal records shows Van Auken has had multiple DUI arrests. A DUI charge is not possible in this new case because no testing of Van Auken was completed during his alleged intoxication. But he faces felony menacing and weapons charges in addition to misdemeanor traffic, weapons and endangerment charges. He is scheduled to appear before a judge for a bond hearing Friday afternoon.

There were no reports of injuries from Monday’s incident, and no indication of charges against the owner of the Trailblazer.



  1. Andrew says:

    Fracking should be banned in Colorado because it poses an existential threat to the health, safety and welfare of all Coloradoans. Tyler Van Auken is a hero and we should set up a GO Fund Me page for pay for his legal defense and then some.Too bad he didn’t shoot any oil and gas executives.

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