NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Laramie bar owner killed in crash

LARAMIE (WNE) — Michael Hopkins, co-owner of the Buckhorn Bar and Parlor in downtown Laramie, has died following a car crash north of Medicine Bow.

He was one of two people killed in the crash that took place around noon Saturday on Wyoming Highway 487, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Amid the community’s sadness and shock of Hopkins’ sudden passing, the Buckhorn will keep its tradition of being open every day, manager Buck Ward told the Boomerang on Tuesday.

“Mike would’ve wanted it that way,” Ward said.

Hopkins, 69, was driving a 2004 Ford Ranger north on the highway when the vehicle entered the southbound lane, colliding head-on with a 2014 Subaru Forester. The Subaru’s driver, 57-year old Casper resident Jonathan Schmidt, also died from injuries sustained in the crash.

The WHP is investigating driver fatigue on the part of Hopkins as a contributing factor in the crash, according to the WHP.

Billed as the "World Famous Buckhorn Bar," the establishment has been open in Laramie since 1900, according to its website. Open every day of the year, it still serves as a popular venue for live music, dancing and is a hub for party-goers at many of downtown's most popular celebratory times.

This was the 48th and 49th fatality on Wyoming’s highways in 2019, compared to 25 this time last year according to the WHP.


Man accused in Rock Springs shooting makes initial appearance

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — Joaquin Leon-Guzman sat inside the Sweetwater County Courtroom at Tuesday’s initial appearance sporting a detention center jumpsuit and a freshly trimmed haircut as he listened to the judge announce that his bond was set at $750,000 cash or surety after he allegedly shot toward people outside a bar.

Leon-Guzman is charged with aggravated assault and battery and three counts of reckless endangering. If convicted of each count, he could face a maximum of 13 years in prison.

Leon-Guzman was arrested Sunday morning outside the Bareback Saloon in Rock Springs. According to the Rock Springs Police Department, he allegedly fired a .22 caliber rifle toward a crowd of people after he was kicked out of the club.

Kory White was struck in the leg and taken to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. He has since been released, Sweetwater County Attorney Dan Erramouspe told the Rocket-Miner.

Leon-Guzman is charged with aggravated assault and battery because he allegedly attempted to cause serious bodily injury to White, and is facing three counts of reckless endangering for knowingly pointing a 

firearm in the direction of Jose G. Rodriguez, Stormie Olson and Jacob Olson, according to court documents.

Rodriguez, Stormie Olson and Jacob Olson were standing near White when the shots were fired in front of the saloon, Erramouspe said.

The maximum penalties for aggravated assault and battery are up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Someone convicted of reckless endangering can receive a year sentence and a $750 fine.


Man faces charges in alleged abuse involving 10-year-old

RIVERTON (WNE) — A Riverton man could face decades in prison if convicted of the three counts of felony sexual abuse of a minor for which he has been bound over to the Fremont County District Court.

Ian Sean Woodis is charged with one first-degree and two second-degree felonies, for incidents that, Woodis told Fremont County Sheriff’s deputies, occurred over the course of six weeks with a child younger than 13 years of age. 

Two of the charges are punishable by up to 50 years in prison; one could result in up to 20. 

The court affidavit filed Feb. 15 in Circuit Court of Riverton states that on Feb. 14, a 10-year-old’s older sister saw Woodis (year of birth 1994) engaged in a sexual act with the child. 

The witness said that she asked Woodis to leave the residence where the incident occurred. She later told her mother what she had seen, and around 45 minutes later, the mother made contact with two sheriff ’s deputies, to whom she repeated her daughter’s account. 

After interviewing the witness, the deputies contacted Woodis and asked him to come to the Sheriff’s Office for an interview. Woodis came “voluntarily in his own vehicle,” the record states. 

During the interview, Woodis told the detective about three instances of sexual contact between himself and the child: one outdoors, in January, one in early February while the pair were “watching some cartoon,” and the one that led to his arrest, which was said to have occurred in the victim’s bedroom the evening of Feb. 14. 


Teton Sheriff seeks housing stipends for employees

JACKSON (WNE) — Sheriff Matt Carr says that for him to run a successful sheriff’s office his employees who live in Teton County should receive housing stipends.

“It’s critical,” he told the Teton County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday morning during his 2020 budget presentation. “In the last five years we have had 35 employees leave within their first year largely due to the cost of living.”

Carr said that to compete with what the state of Wyoming gives its Teton County employees in housing assistance, his staff members who live locally should receive $1,489 per month.

“Any state worker who resides in Teton County receives $1,489 per month in housing allowances,” Carr said.

That would come out to $536,040 in housing assistance per year if the number of sheriff’s office members who live in Teton County remained the same.

“Our 2020 overall request without the housing allowance and overtime is lower than the 2019 request,” he said.

Carr’s pleading isn’t new.

It’s a topic that has been brought before commissioners before. In 2015 a salary study suggested commissioners give a housing allowance to emergency workers and new hires.

Of the 67 Teton County Sheriff’s Office employees, Carr said 30 live in Teton County.

But only four of those 30 employees are sworn deputies, meaning every time Teton Pass or the Snake River Canyon closes because of severe weather, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office is crippled when responding to calls.


Wheatland adds target shooting to sports lineup

WHEATLAND (WNE) — The Wheatland High School added a new sport to their spring sports line up – clay target shooting. 

Students approached the principal of the high school asking if the sport could be added to the program so Bill and Angie Kernan were asked to head and coach the sport. The Platte County Trap Club offered their facility for a discounted rental rate for the kids to practice and the WHS Trap Team was created. 

“The kids are busting clays and having fun,” said Angie. 

The inaugural Wheatland team has 11 members. They practiced for three weeks and will shoot for scores for nine weeks until the end of May. The scores will be in competition with other teams across the country.

The first ever Wyoming State High School Clay Target League State Shoot will be June 22 at Goshen County Trap Club. This is the first year that schools in Wyoming have offered the sport as a state.

Wheatland is one of just four schools in Wyoming participating. The other schools are Hulett, Sundance, and Upton. The hope is that more schools will join next year. 

“Some of the kids have their own firearms but some have been using donated one,” explained Angie. “The community has been really great, we got what we needed.” 

“It’s honestly the best thing I’ve done in a a school. I love trap and I highly recommend joining if you love shooting,” said team member Sage Henderson.


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