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Offender attempts to escape from Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center in Golden

Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center
Posted at 8:23 AM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 19:50:49-04

GOLDEN, Colo. — An offender at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center attempted to escape from the facility early Wednesday morning, according to Golden police.

Deputy Chief Joe Harvey with the Golden Police Department said at 6:22 a.m., the department received a report of a potential escape at the facility and shots fired in the area.

According to a preliminary investigation, police believe two or three people drove up to the center in a gold or similar-colored Lexus and pulled around to the far west side of the facility. The driver then turned around to face north, toward the exit, Harvey said, indicating setup for an easy escape from the grounds.

They attempted to throw an “orange rope with a white bag containing rocks” over the fence. The first attempt failed when the bag became stuck on top of the fence, but the rope made it over the fence on the second try, Harvey said.

Around the same time, an 18-year-old later identified as Ernesto Ontiveros was being transported to breakfast in the facility. He broke free and ran toward the rope before he was contained by staff, Harvey said.

Around the same time, a maintenance worker heard a gunshot and somebody yell, "Get back." About 15 seconds later, the worker heard another gunshot, Harvey said.

Harvey said police do not know where the shots were fired, but nobody was injured at the facility. Golden police said Wednesday afternoon that officers found two .380 shell casings near where the car had been parked.

The center has three cameras around where the escape attempt occurred and police are working to get photographs of the vehicle involved and the suspects in the car.

Police said Ontiveros was booked on a charge of attempted escape and that the Lexus and people involved were still outstanding as of 2 p.m.

This attempt comes after a lull of reported problems at the detention center. Several agencies have been working to fix the issues over the past few years.

Previously, the center had incidents that included a riot that left several youth offenders and staff injured, multiple escapes including two young sex offenders, and an attack on a guard that resulted in brain damage.

Golden Police Department Deputy Chief Joe Harvey told Denver7 in June 2019 that the youths at the detention center are the most violent in the area, or those who have committed the most crimes.

“Many of them are violent offenders and many of them are prone to violence and as a result the assaults are more aggressive," he said.

He said the number of calls for service at the facility had increased over the past few years. The investigation into the crimes at the center were beginning to take a toll on resources, he said.

CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes previously said that drugs and a lack of attention to "trauma-informed" rehabilitation were among the roots causes of the disruption.

In January 2020, several changes were announced to decrease the amount of problems at the facility.

That month, the Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Services laid out its plan to divide the Lookout Mountain Youth Detention Center into four separate centers, each with its own administrator and staff. One of the centers would hold 16 people, the second would hold 24 and the third and fourth would hold 36 each.

Anders Jacobson, of the Division of Youth Services, previously told Denver7 that moving to a smaller setting will allow staff to focus on "building relationships" with a smaller number of youth.