by Rick Langenberg:
Authorities have identified a carjacking suspect, who led authorities on a high-speed chase through Manitou Springs, Woodland Park and parts of Teller County, resulting in a fatal crash off Hwy. 67, as 44-year-old Anthony Aurelio of Cripple Creek. Aurelio was killed Saturday evening when the vehicle he stole was involved in a rollover crash off Hwy. 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek.
This followed a four-mile chase by Colorado State Patrol troopers and culminated a bizarre, two-county law enforcement pursuit. The state troopers were prepared to end the pursuit due to dangers for law enforcement personnel and for other motorists. The crash occurred shortly after the vehicle the suspect was driving struck a set of spike strips set on the roadway by Teller County sheriff deputies.
State troopers then tried to stop the vehicle again and it veered off the right side of the road and rolled down a steep embankment, landing on its top. Aurelio, who was wanted on charges of assaulting a woman, died at the accident scene. Problems escalated earlier that afternoon when Aurelio allegedly carjacked a 1997 Honda Accord at a car wash in Manitou Springs. He snagged the car from a teenager, who was reportedly vacuuming the back seat of the vehicle, when Aurelio jumped into the driver’s seat. In an interview aired on KKTV, the teen said the suspect didn’t threaten him and let him take some of the valuable items from the car, such as a phone and his dad’s credit cards, before taking off. The teen admitted the incident took him by surprise. “I was very confused and didn’t understand what was happening,” said the 16-year-old teen, according to the KKTV report. The suspect, who reportedly had suicidal tendencies, also handed the teen his wallet and a note for his wife. Aurelio reportedly told the teen he would leave the vehicle at a nearby Wal-Mart outlet.
Reports circulated in Manitou Springs, indicating that the suspect was “driving like a crazy man” through town and smashed into a patrol car and other vehicles.
Aurelio also tried to reportedly smash into a Teller patrol car, as he traveled west at a high rate of speed. Teller deputies spotted the suspect on U.S. Hwy. 24 and pursued him onto Hwy. 67, when the state patrol assumed control of the pursuit operation. Authorities are relieved that besides the carjacking suspect, no one else was injured. “The safety of the public is always a top concern, especially on a road where we have a lot of traffic heading to and from Cripple Creek,” said Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger, according to a report in the Colorado Springs Gazette.