Man accused of pointing rifle at traffic pleads not guilty by reason of insanity
Bryan Allan Hunt, a man accused of making violent threats and pointing his rifle at highway passersby in Breckenridge earlier this year, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity during a hearing at the Summit County Justice Center on Monday.
Hunt, a 37-year-old Utah native, is charged with felony menacing along with misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest following a tense confrontation with law enforcement in April.
On April 4, officers were dispatched to mile marker 91 on Colorado Highway 9, near Tiger Run Resort in Breckenridge, after receiving a report that a man was pointing a rifle at cars driving by on the roadway. Colorado State Patrol trooper Galen Peterson was the officer closest to the area and the first to arrive on scene.
Peterson provided his account of the uneasy altercation during a preliminary hearing on the case last month. In his testimony, Peterson said that after he arrived at the scene, Hunt acknowledged his presence but largely ignored any commands and appeared to be inebriated in some capacity. Peterson noted a knife on the side of Hunt’s hip and a scoped rifle resting barrel-side down in the passenger seat of Hunt’s vehicle.
Peterson went to the passenger side of the vehicle to check for other people or weapons. Hunt was on the other side of the car with the driver’s door open, according to Peterson’s testimony and the arrest affidavit. Peterson said he drew his gun and commanded Hunt to the front of the vehicle, at which time Hunt pointed a finger-gun gesture at him and asked, “What, are you going to shoot me?”
In his testimony, Peterson said Hunt “invited” him to shoot him on multiple occasions, including entering the driver’s area of the vehicle against Peterson’s commands, giving Hunt access to the rifle. Peterson said he thrust his gun out and “began to press the trigger” before realizing traffic was still traveling behind Hunt. Peterson then tried to reposition himself around the car, backing off and keeping an eye on Hunt to make sure he didn’t move toward the weapon.
“It would have been me or him, and I can’t serve my community dead,” Peterson said, noting the whole situation left him unsettled.
Hunt moved to the back of the car, and Peterson was able to place himself between the traffic and Hunt’s vehicle. Officers with the Breckenridge Police Department arrived shortly after, at which point Hunt complied with commands to go to his knees and place his hands on his head, according to the arrest affidavit.
While on the ground, Hunt pulled the knife from his hip sheath and stabbed it into the ground before tossing it to the side. A Breckenridge officer fired his Taser on Hunt, bringing him to the ground where officers were able to place him in handcuffs.
According to Peterson, Hunt continued to resist during the arrest and made several unprompted statements, including that he wanted to kill people and that he came to the county to “drive fast, shoot people and blow s— up.”
Hunt appeared in custody in court Monday with his attorney Kevin Jensen, who said Hunt might be willing to accept a plea agreement for a lesser felony. Senior deputy district attorney Lisa Hunt, who is not related to the defendant, voiced concerns about the nature of the crime and said her office wasn’t willing to negotiate an agreement. Ultimately, the defendant Hunt pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, asserting that he wasn’t legally responsible for his actions because he was suffering from a condition that prevented him from having a culpable mental state at the time of the crime.
Chief Judge Mark Thompson accepted the plea and ordered Hunt to undergo a sanity evaluation at one of two state mental health facilities in Denver or Pueblo, at which time he also will undergo a competency examination to determine whether he’ll be mentally fit if the case goes to trial. The defendant is scheduled for a review hearing July 1.
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