The Park County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic disturbance call at approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at a private residence in Fairplay.

That call led to a 10-plus hour standoff that ultimately demanded not only the attention of many Park County Sheriff’s Office personnel, but also required a visit from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team.

The incident ended without injury to any of the parties involved, but did result in the arrest of Fairplay resident James Schwarz, 36, on eight separate counts including three felonies.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office distributed a press release Monday, Aug. 10, in response to the incident, which is presented below.

“On August 8, 2020, the Park County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the Fairplay area for a domestic violence situation. Upon arrival at the residence, contact was made with a female subject who reported that her live- in boyfriend had been holding her against her will and had assaulted her physically and sexually. Further information from the female party indicated that her boyfriend was armed with several firearms and wanted to commit “suicide by cop.”

Surveillance was maintained on the residence and a subject was observed walking around outside the residence with what appeared to be an AR-15 type rifle. Based upon the information received, the decision was made to request mutual aid from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in the form of a SWAT team. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Fairplay area with the proper assets to contain a potentially dangerous situation. Due to the potential for a violent confrontation, Life Flight and ambulance crews were also on standby.  

“The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team then contacted the suspect at the front of his residence where he turned himself in with no incident. No persons were injured in the event. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to the Park County Jail.”

Perfect scenario

“Any time a SWAT unit is called to a situation like this, the perfect scenario is for everyone to go home safely ... even the bad guys,” said Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw during a Monday morning interview with The Flume. “Fortunately, that’s what happened here, except the bad guy actually went to jail.”

McGraw said during his time as Park County Sheriff, this weekend marked the first time he had required or requested the services of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team’s assistance.

“It was good of them to respond the way they did,” McGraw said. “The SWAT team pulled their Bearcat [Armored tactical vehicle] right up in front of the house, the suspect realized the overwhelming amount of force that was being shown to him, and eventually decided to give himself up. They did a very professional job.”

According to McGraw, the suspect possessed a considerable cache of weapons inside his residence in addition to an AR-15 alluded to in the public statement released Monday. Weapons confiscated by authorities upon entering the residence included three semi-automatic pistols, a tactical shotgun and a Mini-14, a lightweight semi-automatic rifle sometimes used by military personnel.

Schwarz was being held at Park County Jail with a bond of $10,000 as of Tuesday; He faces charges of second degree Kidnapping [felony], Menacing with a Weapon [felony], Sex Assault [felony].third degree Assault, Obstruction of Telephone, False Imprisonment, Criminal Mischief, Harassment and Domestic Violence.

Midnight shift, and then some

The Park County Sheriff’s Office also responded to a break-in near the Warm Springs Ranch area that ended in a foot chase and subsequent arrest at approximately the same time the 10-hour standoff approached its conclusion in Fairplay.

Also on Saturday, during that same timeframe, the Park County Sheriff’s Office was called to another domestic dispute involving a Guffey man who was armed and believed to be dangerous.

“Saturday was just an absolutely crazy day,” McGraw said. “It was also a typical, heavy-traffic weekend. Thank goodness the SWAT team was called out early Saturday morning rather than Friday afternoon.”

When asked if his personnel was stretched thin during Saturday’s flurry of activity, McGraw said it was not thanks to those serving on the midnight shift.

“We asked for the midnight shift personnel to hold over because of everything that was going on, so some of them didn’t go home until about 2 p.m. and then had to report back to work that night,” McGraw said. “So thanks to them, we had enough people to handle everything as it was occurring.”

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