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Affidavit: New Castle police chief drunkenly accused friend of murder, muzzle thumped him

Police chief faces felony charges
Sirens 2
Posted at 10:23 AM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 12:30:43-04

NEW CASTLE, Colo. — The police chief of New Castle allegedly "muzzle thumped" a friend after drunkenly and falsely accusing him of murdering his wife, according to the chief's arrest affidavit.

Anthony Andrew Pagni, 58, faces charges of harassment (shoving), prohibited use of a weapon (intoxicated, aiming weapon), and menacing with a deadly weapon.

On July 29, deputies with the Garfield County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a disturbance at 20 Navajo Street in New Castle, which is along Interstate 70 between Rifle and Glenwood Springs. Dispatch told the responding deputies that a man was intoxicated and walking around with a firearm, according to Pagni's arrest affidavit.

The affidavit alleges that he had threatened a person with a short-barreled rifle.

The deputies knew the man as Pagni, the New Castle Police Department chief.

Anthony Andrew Pagni_Garfield County Sheriff's Office

Deputies arrived at the scene at 9:22 p.m. Pagni was barricaded inside his home and refused to come out. Deputies, plus officers with the New Castle Police Department, secured a perimeter. Stop sticks were placed at the entrance of Ute Avenue and Navajo Street in case the suspect tried to flee in a vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit.

Authorities contacted the person who called 911 down the street from the home. The 53-year-old man said that around 8:30 p.m. that evening, he had been sitting on his porch when Pagni, while carrying a long gun, approached him. The two had been neighbors for about 19 years. The muzzle was pointed at the ground, the man told authorities, according to the arrest affidavit.

The 911 caller said Pagni was calling for his dog, stumbling, and asked the man if he was OK as he walked on the porch. The man said he could smell whiskey on Pagni's breath, according to the arrest affidavit.

Pagni asked about the whereabouts of the 53-year-old man's wife and he responded that she was walking the dog. Pagni accused him of lying and demanded he open his front door, which the man refused, according to the arrest affidavit. Pagni threatened to hit the man with the rifle's muzzle.

"Tony accused (redacted) of killing his wife and that he needed (the) door open to confirm or disprove his suspicions. (Redacted) refused to open the door, and Tony placed the muzzle of his rifle against (redacted)'s chest and pressed it into (redacted)'s chest," the affidavit reads.

The 53-year-old man pushed the muzzle away and called for his wife. He also took photos of Pagni with his cell phone. Pagni then walked away.

The man went back into his home, locked his doors, and called 911.

During the investigation, the man sent authorities the three photos he had taken of Pagni. His wife, who also spoke with authorities, said she had not heard anything, according to the arrest affidavit.

The man told authorities that the "muzzle thump" did not hurt and did not leave any marks.

When asked if he felt like his life was in danger, the man said he had known Pagni for 19 years and was good friends with him, so he didn't feel like his life was truly threatened, the document reads.

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During this conversation, the man said that Pagni — who was still barricaded in the home — was talking with his son and ex-wife, who were both trying to convince him to leave the house peacefully. He said that according to Pagni's ex-wife, Pagni may be suicidal, according to the arrest affidavit.

Shortly after this, Pagni exited the home with empty hands above his head.

Pagni was then transported to the Garfield County Jail.

Deputies noted that he had glassy eyes, slurred speech, poor coordination and a heavy odor of alcohol. When asked questions at the jail, he would sometimes fall asleep and then snap awake, according to the affidavit. A deputy noted that there "may be an unknown substance in his system separate from alcohol." Pagni's hands were cool to the touch.

Back at the house, deputies had finished executing a search warrant. They had recovered the rifle, which had a round in the chamber and a fully loaded magazine.

In a statement Wednesday, New Castle Town Administrator David Reynolds said Pagni had been terminated. Sgt. Chuck Burrows has been named interim police chief.

No other details were available as of Wednesday evening.