SWAT operation targets wrong Clifton home, surprises family of seven

Published: Sep. 14, 2016 at 4:11 PM MDT
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Law enforcement agents conducted a SWAT operation at the wrong home Wednesday morning, shocking a family with five children, officials said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

"Although we certainly acted in good faith on this operation, we did make a mistake," said Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper.

In a joint press conference, the Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office said they received information from a source early Wednesday morning about a large amount of meth and guns at a home near 32 and E roads in Clifton.

Officers with the Western Colorado Task Force obtained and served a search warrant around 5 a.m.

"They woke up a lot of people. It was very loud and noisy," said Wednesday Martinez who witnessed the entry.

Chief John Camper with the Grand Junction Police Department said they did not get an answer at the door, so officers forced entry into the home, breaching the front door and breaking several windows.

Authorities said they quickly discovered that the family was not the suspects they expected to find.

Police have not released an address, but neighbors say the SWAT operation occurred in the Coronado Villas.

"I still can hear the sound of the glass break, kid crying, and screaming. If someone broke into my house I'd freak out," said Martinez.

Police said the suspects used to live at the address but had moved away. The current residents have lived at the address since October. They are a family of seven with five children ranging in ages from three to 12.

Sheriff Matt Lewis with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office said deputies are working with landlord to repair the damage done to the home.

That includes replacing the front door and windows and anything else that needs to be fixed.

Chief Camper said the warrant was obtained by the GJPD, so it will be responsible for paying for the repairs.

Sheriff Lewis said they were “looking for some very dangerous and armed people,” so they responded with the appropriate force to match.

“Now it is our job as law enforcement leaders in this community to go back and look at this in detail and see what led to us making the mistakes that we made, what we can do better,” said Sheriff Lewis. “And see if there is anything that needs to change in both of our organizations to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”