A 22-year-old Denver man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he fired a gun out his car window as deputies were investigating possible thefts from cars.
Douglas County District Court Judge Jeffrey Holmes sentenced convicted felon Manuelito Dewane Vigil to 10 years in the Department of Corrections for the top count, the maximum allowed under the plea agreement.
In choosing the aggravated range for the sentence, the court noted that Vigil was on a failed probation in a deferred judgment in a Weld County felony case and was on bond out of Arapahoe County when the crime took place.
“A repeat offender who was being supervised for a burglary conviction and already on bond for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon finds a way yet again to get another firearm … and use it to shoot at our guardians. A system that fails to treat gun crimes seriously begets more gun crimes,” said District Attorney George Brauchler. “Mercifully, nobody was killed — this time. This reprobate will find it harder to shoot at the good guys from prison, but under our broken sentencing laws, he will only be in there for a handful of years.”
Vigil pleaded guilty to aggravated motor vehicle theft, possession of a weapon by a previous offender with a prior burglary conviction, vehicular eluding, first-degree auto trespass, violation of bail bond conditions, second-degree burglary and felony menacing. Other counts were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Sentences on all counts were ordered to run concurrent to the sentence on the top count.
The incident began Jan. 27, 2019, when Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies were notified of reports of a man driving a gray van trying to trespass into vehicles in Highlands Ranch. A responding deputy quickly located the suspect vehicle; it eluded the deputy.
Another deputy picked up the trail and reported shots had been fired from the van by the masked driver as it sped away.
Shell casings were found at the scene.
The gray van was determined to have been stolen. It was located in Commerce City on Jan. 30. Vigil was arrested at his home in Denver the next day. Seven firearms were found in his home, along with a ballistic vest and a mask. Deputies also recovered ammunition from the car and house that matched the shell casings found at the scene. Additionally, the car contained more than 200 pieces of stolen mail.
“We asked the judge to send a message that it is unacceptable to commit these crimes in Douglas County and to shoot at one of our deputies in order to get away. And the judge did just that – you do not get to come to Douglas County, terrorize our citizens, commit numerous offenses, carry and fire a weapon as a convicted felon, and get away with it,” said Deputy District Attorney Zoe Laird, who prosecuted the case. “The defendant is now in prison, where his own actions put him.”
Added Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Steve Johnson, who spoke at the Jan. 2 sentencing: “You don’t get to shoot your way out of property crimes in Douglas County.”