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Roofing crew wasn't what homeowner expected

Staff writer

Heath Shields’ second day in his new house ended with him spending the night on his porch with a shotgun and his dog.

A roofing crew had been working on his house south of Marion last week when agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms suddenly appeared to arrest two of the roofers on murder warrants from Aurora, Colorado.

One was captured quickly. Enrique Juarez-Gonzalez, 19, Aurora, Colorado, was arrested at the Shields’ property and taken to county jail.

The other, Rafael Rodriguez Lopez, escaped despite a multiple-agency manhunt that lasted through the night.

Shields didn’t have a clue the roofing team included murder suspects.

“I actually ate lunch with them, not knowing,” Shields said.

He was surprised to step outside to see police with machine guns descend on his property with machine guns, he said.

That’s when Lopez fled.

“The crew boss took off, too,” Shields said.

Officers got a delayed start on pursuing Lopez.

“There was some random 16-year-old walking through the field with a backpack,” Shields said.

Police took out after the teen, at first thinking he was the fugitive, Shields said.

Jeffrey Dorschner, spokesman for the federal Department of Justice, said it was not unusual for ATF agents to pursue violence suspects across state lines even though they are wanted only on state charges.

Vikki Migoya, spokesman for the 18th Judicial District in Colorado, which includes Aurora, said Juarez-Gonzalez has been charged with two counts of murder in the first degree, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, and tampering with a deceased body. The charges stem from a Feb. 28, 2019 incident, details of which have not been released.

After the raid, the roofing contractor fired the entire crew that had been working at Shields’ house, Shields said. A different crew showed up the following day to finish the job.

But that wasn’t the last Shields saw of the original roofing crew. Two members of the crew returned to his property a week later driving a gray 2012 Dodge pickup. He had to have sheriff’s deputies tell them they were not to come back.

The contractor told Shields that the original crew members had approached him in Wichita, looking for work, and that their paperwork looked good, so he hired them.

Last modified May 27, 2020

 

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