The Custer County Sheriff’s Office received numerous 911 calls about a family being attacked on Saturday, July 5. The noon reports stated that the assault took place on Highway 96 near mile marker 18.
The victims, a man, woman and three-year-old boy, were headed to Westcliffe from Lakewood to celebrate the holiday weekend.
The attack began west of Wetmore on Highway 96.
Travis Harter, 25, and his girlfriend Nicole Mickeletto, 24, and their young son were surrounded by the motorcycle gang known as “Valiant,” according to Sheriff Fred Jobe.
There were a dozen motorcycles and five SUVs that increased and decreased their speed around the family, and refused to let them pass.
“By the time the family had come onto Hardscrabble Road,” Jobe said, “they had been rear-ended by one of the SUVs already.”
The assault escalated at mile marker 18 when a motorcyclist rode beside the family, pointed a gun at Harter through the window and told him to pull over.
“That is when a white SUV shoved them off the road,” Sheriff Jobe said.
While being forced off the highway, Harter hit one of the motorcyclists.
“We don’t know if it was intentional or not,” Sheriff Jobe said.
Several of the alleged Valiant members hit Harter through the driver’s window. While he was being beat, other members smashed the headlights, slashed the tires and stabbed the driver’s door with a knife.
“Other members shouted and harassed Mickeletto and the three year old on the other side of the vehicle,” Sheriff Jobe said. “They were not touched, though.”
By the time deputies arrived at the scene, the bikers were gone. Harter was taken by a Florence ambulance to Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo where he was later released the same day.
“The gang was in town because they were holding a rally south of Florence over the weekend,” Sheriff Jobe said. “Some also came up for the car show on Main Street in Westcliffe.”
Witnesses of the attack stated that the gang members left Harter and his family alone once they heard the sirens. The gang fled south on Highway 165.
Deputies Barr and Wenzel pursued the gang but did not find them. It is believed that they did not follow 165 all of the way through, but turned on South Hardscrabble Road.
While Harter was transported to Parkview Hospital, Sheriff Jobe and other deputies were taking Mickeletto’s statement at the scene of the attack. As she spoke with the police, she spotted one of the SUVs driving by that had been involved.
State Patrol was on site and pursued the SUV, stopping the vehicle at mile marker 20.
“They were Valiant members,” Sheriff Jobe said. “There were items in the SUV that proved as much.”
Sheriff Jobe stated that those members who were caught have helped the department collect names to start an investigation.
“There was also a witness who took a video of the attack,” Sheriff Jobe said. “We are working on enhancing the video in order to identify who is in it.”
Photo lineups are planned. The Custer County Sheriff’s Department is set to investigate the assault, while State Patrol will investigate the accident.
“This will take a lot of work,” Sheriff Jobe said. “We will work closely together in order to find the gang members involved.”
– J.E. Ward