Teenagers caught with weapons at Steamboat Springs High School released on bond
On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the two teenagers arrested at Steamboat Springs High School were released on bond from the Routt County Jail and Detention Center.
Zachery Durham and Damion Rhodes were arrested on Sept. 27 and charged with attempted felony menacing and interfering with an education institution after being caught in the high school parking lot with an Airsoft rifle, a knife and several swords.
According to police, the arresting officers approached Durham and Rhodes after receiving an anonymous tip through Safe2Tell, which reported a social media post of Durham posing with what appeared to be a firearm with the caption “full on drive by (expletive) here.”
According to the City of Steamboat Springs, Durham didn’t specifically threaten any area or school. Durham and Rhodes are 18 and 19 years old, respectively.
“We have a very young man,” said Durham’s attorney, Leslie Goldstein. “He actually just turned 18 about four weeks ago or so. I can tell that the court obviously is concerned about community safety, but what I think is important for the court to recognize is that we have a young man with no criminal history, hence no failures to appear — no failures to comply.”
Goldstein argued that her client’s young age, lack of criminal history and the ambiguity of Durham’s alleged threat warranted some leniency.
“This is what someone was perceiving to be a threat,” Goldstein said. “That’s not always accurate.”
Goldstein told County Court Judge Erin Wilson that Durham is in the process of earning his GED diploma, is employed full-time making $20 per hour and planned to pay rent each month while living with a family friend in Steamboat.
Goldstein asked the judge to change her client’s $5,000 bond to personal recognizance, meaning he could post bond without putting money down as long as he followed certain conditions issued by the court. Goldstein explained that her client didn’t have the money to cover the full amount.
Judge Wilson said although the court was concerned about Durham’s young age and lack of criminal history, she wouldn’t change the bond to personal recognizant, but was willing to lower the amount.
“I am concerned about the long-term impact of incarceration at the jail of Mr. Durham if he is in fact unable to post the bond as presently set,” Wilson said. “I absolutely understand that Mr. Durham is innocent at this point, and that presumption remains with him at this point. That being said, community safety is a very large concern as well. The allegations in the affidavit of arrest are very concerning.”
The court was willing to lower Durham’s bond amount to $1,000 cash surety, but Judge Wilson said the court was also willing to accept a $300 cash bond, which Durham’s family agreed to pay.
As conditions for his release, Durham is not allowed to possess firearms, weapons or ammunition. He must maintain his employment and continue living with the family friend.
He cannot interact with any witness in the case — including Rhodes — and was required to sign a protection order from the Steamboat School District, forbidding him from being on any school property within the district.
Rhodes also had his bond amount lowered.
Rhodes wasn’t in the social media photo that prompted the anonymous tip, but police did witness him loading a magazine into the Airsoft rifle at the high school.
Rhodes’ surety bond was reduced from $2,000 to $1,000, but finding a place for Rhodes to stay was a challenge because both of his parents live on the East Coast and no other viable options were discussed in court besides the Travis House in Steamboat — a faith-based men’s sober-living community.
The terms of both defendants’ release prohibit them from leaving the state, but considering Rhodes’ circumstances, the court showed some flexibility.
“I do not think it is appropriate for Mr. Rhodes to sit in custody because his parents happened to be out of state,” Judge Wilson said. “I’m going to allow him to leave the state of Colorado for the sole purpose of residing with one of his parents.”
Both Durham and Rhodes are scheduled to appear again in court on Oct. 19.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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