Sunday turned into a wild and hectic day for residents and travelers in the lower Ute Pass area, along with emergency service and law enforcement officials, due to a reported home invasion and a sudden snow storm.
A suspicious incident in Cascade resulted in a five-hour-plus standoff and sparked a three-hour closure of U.S. Highway 24 that left many motorists shaking their heads in confusion.
A number of 911 emergency hang up calls were made starting at 8:30 a.m. from a home in Cascade on Fountain Avenue. According to a dispatcher from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, a woman was heard crying on the phone. When law enforcement officers arrived at the scene, they learned that there were possibly two armed suspects holding several people hostage.
What started as a flurry of of 911 calls turned into a lengthy standoff and an effort to rescue the home’s seven residents. The area was bombarded by law enforcement vehicles by late morning. According to one neighbor in the area, this home had been the source of many troubles in the past. The resident said that \problems had been brewing at this home for at least a year.
According to sources, the home was even regarded by suspicion by certain utility workers in the area.
The highway was consequently shut down in both directions at Cascade around noon, while deputies tried to get four people out of the home and three more from a detached garage. A one-mile radius from the scene was completely sealed off, making travel down the Pass completely impossible. Sheriff officials later apologized for the inconvenience, but maintained that they wanted to assure the safety of the people in the area.
Unfortunately, the incident occurred on the tail end of one of the busiest days for Christmas shopping and for people that frequent the North Pole Colorado Santa’s Workshop, one of the biggest attractions in the lower Ute Pass.
By 2 p.m., the residents made it out of the home safely and deputies had arrested Eli Carlos Hahn, 28, on suspicion of first-degree burglary, aggravated robbery, second-degree kidnapping, child abuse and of being a felon in possession of a firearm. After his arrest, Hahn was transported to a hospital, where he eventually was cleared. Hahn then was booked into the county jail. Initially, authorities thought two people were involved in the home invasion.
Jacqueline Kirby, a spokesperson for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, stated that another man was originally arrested in relations to the case but was later released. Kirby said deputies released him because it appeared he was not involved in the accident
The highway was reopened around 3 p.m.
According to court records, Hahn previously pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to two years of probation. After Hahn’s arrest, a SWAT team, with the assistance of highly trained canine members, moved in to examine the home, located near the Pikes Peak Highway. A number of residents waited outside, as the incident kept the neighborhood on the edge. These types of incidents are extremely rare for Cascade, a community where many residents don’t even lock their doors.
Besides the home invasion, the area then got crippled by a sudden snow storm that led to the complete closure of Hwy. 24 between Woodland Park and the western part of Colorado Springs for several hours. The highway was filled with stranded vehicles and got clobbered by a spree of minor, one-vehicle accidents, resulting from icy conditions and an unexpected plunge in temperatures.
Driving conditions were still extremely dangerous as late as 8:30 p.m. Locally, many residents got caught in the storm’s wrath. The main local trailhead parking lot on Ute Pass Avenue at the eastern edge of Green Mountain Falls was filled with parked cars, as many residents couldn’t make the difficult trek to their homes.