Three guards injured in latest incident at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center

Escapes, violence among incidents occurring over past few months at youth detention center in Golden

Posted 6/4/19

The latest in a series of incidents at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center ended in three guards being transported to the hospital on May 28. One of the guards suffered a concussion and the …

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Three guards injured in latest incident at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center

Escapes, violence among incidents occurring over past few months at youth detention center in Golden

Posted

The latest in a series of incidents at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center ended in three guards being transported to the hospital on May 28.

One of the guards suffered a concussion and the other two were treated for minor injuries, police said.

Medical personnel and the Golden Police Department were dispatched to the youth facility in Golden at about 6 p.m. According to police, guards were attempting to break up a fight that happened between several youths belonging to different gang affiliations.

“It does not appear that the staff members were the intended target,” said Golden Police Deputy Chief Joe Harvey, adding, “it’s not uncommon for them to need to break up fights.”

Early investigation into the incident indicates that the fight was likely instigated by some sort of signal between some of the youths involved to go into the hallway from facility’s dining area, Harvey said. It then quickly turned into an assault, Harvey said.

The investigation is ongoing, and appropriate charges, if any, Harvey said, will be determined as police learn more about the incident.

The Lookout Mountain facility “is an intensive secure treatment program for 140 male juvenile offenders,” states its website, and serves high risk youth who were committed to the facility through the district court system. The facility is operated by Colorado Department of Human Services’ (CDHS) Division of Youth Services and accepts youth from anywhere in the state.

The May 28 fight is the second violent incident to occur at the facility in May.

On May 1, Golden Police were dispatched to the Lookout Mountain facility on reports of a riot in a housing unit called Cedar Lodge. Eight juveniles — all 17 years old — and 19 staff members were involved in the riot. Four juveniles and 10 staff members were injured. Of the staffers, none of the injuries were serious, but four people were transported to a nearby hospital.

Initial reports indicate that the riot started after one of the juveniles “chest-bumped” a guard, Harvey said during a previous interview for the incident. The guard attempted to control the juvenile, Harvey said, “and it quickly grew” from that.

The riot itself probably lasted only a few minutes, Harvey said at the time, and it took an additional few minutes for the facility to go on lockdown.

In addition to the May 1 riot and May 28 fight disturbances, inmates have escaped from the Lookout Mountain facility on two separate occasions within the past two months.

The Golden Police Department says one 15-year-old youth escaped from custody at about 10:15 a.m., April 11, as staff was escorting him to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles, 16950 W. Colfax Ave., in Golden. The youth was obtaining necessary documents in preparation for a transition to a step-down facility this July, according to the press release.

Littleton Police Department located the youth in Littleton the next day and he was back in police custody by about 11 a.m.

The youth’s original offense was not known at press time, but he “is considered a violent offender” by law ethnforcement and his escape caused local schools to go on lock-out for about two hours during search efforts.

The 15-year-old lived in El Paso County prior to his detention and was committed to the Division of Youth Corrections in June 2018 according to Golden Police. He was transferred to the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center in October 2018 and had a mandatory release date scheduled for June 2020.

Two sex offenders with gang affiliations — roommates at the Lookout Mountain facility — escaped from the facility on May 6.

During a routine perimeter check at 5:20 a.m., a Golden police officer noticed a broken window with sheets hanging from the second floor and a dumpster turned on its side on the northwest side of the building, triggering a search for a 17-year-old and Javier Madera, 19. 

The 17-year-old will remain unnamed, as he is back in custody.

At about 3:30 p.m. May 7, members of a fugitive unit from Denver Police and Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force spotted the suspects in a vehicle near Sixth Avenue and Simms Street in Lakewood. They eventually made their way up Lookout Mountain Road, but turned around and were intercepted by Golden Police. A short vehicle pursuit ended when the suspects’ vehicle crashed near I-70 and US 40. Both of the youths tried to flee on foot but were captured by officers.

For the attempted escape from the Lookout Mountain facility, Madera faces criminal mischief and escape charges. He is being charged as an adult offender and is being held in the Jefferson County jail in Golden.

On June 5, Madera and his attorney waived a preliminary hearing and the court proceedings were bound over to district court. His next court hearing will be an arraignment, when he will enter a plea, which takes place at 8 a.m. on July 22.

The 17-year-old was booked into Mount View Youth Services Center, 7862 W. Mansfield Parkway in Denver, which, like the Lookout Mountain facility, is operated by the CDHS Division of Youth Services. Mount View, however, is “a secure, co-ed multi-purpose facility” that serves “youth who have returned to secure committed care due to unsafe behaviors and increased risk while in the community either in a non-secure placement or on juvenile parole.”

Court proceedings for the 17-year-old will be in juvenile court. For the escape incident, he faces charges of reckless driving, felony eluding, criminal mischief and escape.

Following the May 6 escape, Mark Techmeyer, communications director for the CDHS, issued a press release that outlined some of the protocols at the Lookout Mountain facility.

“Staffing levels are challenging and constantly being monitored,” a statement in the press release said. “However, staffing was at required levels during the escape.”

The press release stated that the director of the Division of Youth Services had been assigned to direct oversight of the Lookout Mountain facility. Internal reviews and security protocols will continue to be examined, and changes will be implemented where necessary.

“Through the process of the internal reviews,” the press release states, “CDHS is looking at both this incident and also examining opportunities for larger systemic improvements.”

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