By Lance Benzel The Gazette
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs murder suspect known as “Devious” escaped custody in Pueblo County last April by squeezing through the sliding window between the back and front seats of a Colorado State Patrol car and driving away through a crowd of officers.
One trooper had to dive out of the way of the stolen patrol car as William Camacho Jr. made his getaway, prosecutors said Thursday. Camacho crashed minutes later, capping a high-speed pursuit that began April 25 when he fired shots at a different state trooper on Interstate 25 in southern El Paso County. The trooper wasn’t hit.
The escape was detailed Thursday at an evidentiary hearing in 4th Judicial District Court.
Camacho, 35, had just been detained and was alone in the back of the car with his hands cuffed behind his back, authorities said.
A dashboard camera captured clear footage as Camacho moved his handcuffs from behind his back to his front by sliding them over his feet. Then he shimmied through a small security window between the front and back seats.
“You can see him kick off from the back seat,” Colorado Bureau of Investigation detective Julie Petterson testified in describing how the 5-foot, 9-inch, 146-pound Camacho wriggled through the opening. The video wasn’t shown in court.
At the hearing’s conclusion, a judge ordered that Camacho face trial not only for the attempted murder on suspicion of firing on a state trooper, but for a double-shooting three days earlier in Colorado Springs that killed 21-year-old Brandie Preciado and partially blinded her boyfriend, identified in court as Juan “Brown Boy” Banda-Dozal.
“(He) is so strung out on black tar heroin that his mind is blown,” witness Martika Medina told police of Camacho’s unpredictable behavior.
Medina was with Preciado and Banda-Dozel when Camacho allegedly opened fire April 22 at the Canyon Ridge Mobile Home Park in the 5100 block of Airport Road, west of Powers Boulevard, but wasn’t hit.
In a videotaped interview with police, Medina described a chaotic scene as Camacho fired into a parked silver Jeep in which she and the other two were sitting. The shooter unleashed at least 19 rounds in two volleys of gunfire, hitting Dozal, the front seat passenger, in the face, and pumping six rounds into Preciado in the driver’s seat.
“I don’t know why he didn’t kill me,” Medina said through sobs under questioning by Colorado Springs police detective Derek Graham.
She said Camacho pulled up unexpectedly in a white car that parked nearby.
He approached the Jeep on foot and asked Banda-Dozal to help him commit a burglary elsewhere in the trailer park. When Banda-Dozal refused, saying he had kids to worry about, Camacho opened fire, Medina said.
A bullet entered one of Banda-Dozal’s eyes before exiting his jawbone, police said. Police were unable to interview him about the shooting. He was sedated or otherwise unavailable when a detective made several attempts to interview him at the hospital. After several weeks in treatment, he was discharged and hasn’t been located since, police said.
Camacho’s attorneys pointed out that Banda-Dozal had a 9 mm pistol in his lap, suggesting the shooting was in self-defense, a claim police discount.
Preciado suffered at least three shots to the chest that would be fatal, El Paso County Chief Deputy Coroner Dr. Leon Kelly told the court.
As prosecutors displayed pictures of Preciado’s naked body in court, pocked with wounds, Camacho looked on stone-faced from the defense table, stroking his goatee.
Among those who took the stand on Thursday was Pueblo Police Capt. Charlie Taylor, who was off-duty when he witnessed a white car driving recklessly southbound on Interstate 25 approaching Pueblo County.
As Taylor and the other car passed a Colorado State Patrol trooper engaged in a traffic stop on the side of the interstate, Taylor said he saw the driver stick a gun out his window and fire several rounds at the trooper, missing him.
Taylor used his cellphone to call for help, summoning officers from the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol, as the white car’s speed reached an estimated 120 mph.
Camacho was initially arrested north of Pueblo West after crashing his car and trying to run away.
Taylor, who helped tackle the running man, said officers involved in the chase were “all happy we got the guy” when the car in which Camacho had been placed suddenly lurched to life and sped in the direction of trooper David Rooks, who had to dive out of the way to avoid being injured.
At the conclusion of the hearing, 4th Judicial District Judge Eric Bentley ordered Camacho to trial on multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for allegedly shooting at the trooper on the side of I-25.
The judge, however, dismissed attempted murder charges related to Rooks, saying that testimony was too “thin” to establish that Camacho meant to run him down.
The hearing didn’t resolve why Camacho allegedly fired at trooper as he passed him on the interstate.
A passenger in Camacho’s car later told police that Camacho fired without warning. Afterward, he explained he was wanted for murder and that “he was probably going to prison anyhow,” the witness told police.
Camacho, who was on parole for armed robbery at the time of the crimes, was ordered held without bond pending trial.
He is expected to be arraigned Oct. 5.