Grand Junction man allegedly shot at police, FedEx driver while drunk

The shooting near Patterson ground the area to a halt Tuesday
New details from the arrest affidavit of the Northern Way shooter paint a clearer picture of what happened that day.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 2:30 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Yesterday’s shooting on Patterson Road saw a number of near-misses for police and citizens alike, though no injuries were reported. Shots first began to ring out around 12:08 p.m, and law enforcement quickly swarmed the area, resulting in the arrest of Michael Viegas.

Michael C. Viegas, age 30.
Michael C. Viegas, age 30.(Mesa County Sherriff's Office)

The chain of events leading to his arrest, however, were unclear and alarming for Grand Junction citizens as law enforcement rushed to determine the source of the gunfire. Scanner traffic suggested that the shooter was closer to St. Mary’s Medical Pavilion, according to the affidavit, but 911 callers weren’t able to pinpoint the exact direction the shots were coming from. As businesses, museums, and clinics in the area locked down and citizens took cover, police combed the area for the shooter.

Authorities say that as they were searching an area near the intersection of 12th Street and Patterson Road, a bullet ricochet hit directly in front of a patrol car. The officer abandoned his patrol car and took cover behind a second, fearing for his life and for the lives of others near him.

Despite the harrowing near miss, authorities say that the gunshot broadcast the approximate area where the shooter was, narrowing the search zone to Northern Way. Law enforcement then moved to block off the area to car and foot traffic, and called in armored vehicles.

Caught in the middle was a FedEx driver at work, according to arrest documents. The driver had been delivering a package to an apartment on Northern Way when she heard a gunshot. The bullet flew past the driver and into the FedEx truck’s tire and rim, deflating the former and damaging the latter. The affidavit also states that the truck was parked just 30 feet from the apartment, directly in front of the apartment Viegas would later be arrested at.

A detective spotted movement in an apartment building on Northern Way shortly afterwards, says arrest documents. After an armored vehicle was sent in to investigate the apartment, and a detective spotted a man standing on an apartment patio holding a rifle with a metal rail and a scope aimed at a group of Grand Junction Police officers.

“It looked like the armed man was scanning the area looking for a target to shoot,” said the detective. Three to four GJPD officers were in the line of fire, and detectives on the scene said that they believed the officers were in “imminent danger of being shot.” The affidavit also points out that multiple bullet holes were found on a car between the shooter and the group of officers.

At some point after spotting the armored vehicle, Viegas allegedly retreated into the apartment and fired off 12 more shots from his rifle, according to the affidavit.

Approximately four minutes later, a deputy reported that he had eyes on Viegas. According to the affidavit, Viegas allegedly exited the apartment empty-handed and unarmed but still refused to cooperate with law enforcement.

Law enforcement noticed that Viegas appeared to be drunk, which he later admitted to.

After a standoff of over ten minutes, law enforcement shot Viegas with 40mm foam rounds and tasered him.

After transporting Viegas to a hospital for evaluation, law enforcement began searching the apartment he was holed up in. Investigators reported that 27 spent casings were found in and around the front door of the unit, including underneath the front steps, on the patio, and inside the front entryway. Viegas also had two weapons stashed in the apartment: one AR-style rifle stated to be either a .223 or a 5.56, and a .308 rifle with a large scope, according to investigators.

The affidavit also reports that the apartment was littered with whiskey, beer, and vodka bottles in “varying stages of fullness.”

Viegas was jailed the same day of the shooting, and is facing charges of attempted first degree murder, attempted first degree murder of a peace officer, first degree assault, criminal mischief, prohibited use of weapons, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest.