The Weld County Sheriff’s Office, or WCSO, is asking the public for information about a second suspect involved in a homicide case. The request follows the arrest of the first homicide suspect on Monday night during a successful hostage rescue mission in northeastern Colorado.
Oscar Eduardo Valles Avila, 26, and Gilbert Gutierrez, 40, went missing at approximately 11:30 p.m. last Saturday. At that time, according to a press release on the WCSO Facebook, both men were taken to the 23600 block of Blake Street in unincorporated Weld County just outside of Johnston.
On Sunday afternoon, Gutierrez’s deceased body was found in what police deemed to be a homicide scene at the Blake Street location. Following this incident, “Avila was presumed kidnapped and in grave physical danger.”
During an extensive investigation into the case, WCSO Investigations Unit found information that linked Avila to the Julesburg area, sparking the suspicion that Avila might have been taken there by his abductors.
Based on this realization, the Sedgwick, Phillips and Logan county sheriff’s offices, the Weld County Regional SWAT Team and the Weld County’s Sheriff’s Office Strike Team all teamed up to execute a hostage rescue mission for Avila — a massive, multi-agency operation, the press release states.
On Monday afternoon, members of the WCSO Strike Team traveled to Julesburg where they conducted surveillance of the area until the SWAT Team mobilized, or prepared and organized themselves to act in accordance with the mission. “(WCSO Strike Team) relayed suspect and possible victim information to the (SWAT Team), which ultimately led to Avila’s rescue at the gas station.”
At around 8:15 p.m., the SWAT Team secured Avila at a gas station off Interstate 76 in Julesburg, about six miles from the Nebraska state line in Sedgwick County.
After contacting Avila and providing him with medical attention at the scene, the SWAT Team, along with elements of the Sedgwick, Phillips and Logan county sheriff’s offices, located two houses near the intersection of Seventh and Oak streets in Julesburg where they executed search warrants in pursuit of the suspects involved in Avila’s kidnapping and the Gutierrez’s homicide.
The search yielded one of two primary suspects, Marco Antonio Gutierrez-Herrera, 40, who was arrested by members of the WCSO Strike Team at the scene without incident. Gutierrez-Herrera was booked into the Weld County Jail on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault and menacing — all felonies. Additional charges are pending.
According to the press release, WCSO is actively trying to identify and locate the second suspect in the case, who is reported to have been in Julesburg early Monday in a 2015-2017 white Toyota Camry or similar sedan. He was in the same vehicle in Johnstown the day of the homicide. Detectives also suspect he has ties to the Pueblo area. The man should be considered armed and dangerous.
The press release calls on anyone, especially residents, media and law enforcement in Julesburg and Sedgwick County, to submit any security camera footage, such as doorbell camera video, of a white sedan, possibly the 2015-2017 Toyota Camry, in the Julesburg area between Saturday and Monday, Nov. 20-22. Anyone with footage of a white sedan on those days or anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Det. Ong at (970) 400-5816.
Additionally, anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.
WCSO will update this press release once additional information becomes available.