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Local gun owner disputes recent forest gunfire incident

Gene Squires says he, friend did not shoot at jogger last month

Forest Gunfire Concern Disputed

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - An area gun owner said Tuesday that a jogger who complained of almost being shot in the Pike National Forest two weeks ago isn't being truthful.

Gene Squires contacted KRDO NewsChannel 13 after seeing a report about Israel Archuletta.  Archuletta said he and a friend were jogging on Mt. Herman Road in the Pike National Forest west of Monument when gunfire came too close to them.  Archuletta recorded the alleged incident on video and also said he saw bullets knock off branches on the road in front of him.

"That is inaccurate," Squires said.  "And I'll go as far as saying it's a lie.  I can see that he'd be startled by (gunfire).  But to go as far as he did, there's a lot of inaccuracy with that."

Squires also said he and his friend were not in a "no shooting" area as Archuletta may have believed, and what Archuletta actually saw was snow falling from branches, not bullets striking them.

"Once (Archuletta) cleared the hill, a gentleman that was with me started firing down into the canyon at a target," Squires said.  "There's a hillside that stops the bullets.  We held up the shooter until (Archuletta) got past us, then I signaled to go ahead and shoot."

Squires said he apologizes if he scared or startled Archuletta but decided to speak out because he doesn't want the incident to give gun owners and target shooters a bad name, or do anything that might lead to banning shooting in the forest at a time when free and easily accessible public shooting ranges are hard to come by.

"If you know that people are up here shooting, prepare for that," Squires said.  "Be prepared for some gunfire."

Responding to Squires' comments, Archuletta said he has nothing against gun owners but stands by his previous concern about safety.

The U.S. Forest Service investigated the matter and found no evidence of reckless or unsafe shooting.  When asked if more patrols and enforcement are needed, the agency said "We do as much as we can."

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