Officers were alerted to Smail’s presence in the area by a Hillside subdivision homeowner, who according to reports “had befriended the fugitive earlier in his life.” The homeowner alerted them after Smail allegedly broke into two homes in the Hillside subdivision at 7:30 a.m. that same day, before fleeing in his vehicle to the Mountain Village.
Officers were able to locate the fugitive after he was spotted on the Telluride Valley bike path “by alert recreational users” who heard the “original suspect information” distributed by officers to the public via WENS, reverse 911 and KOTO FM radio.
Investigators say Smail, who was involved in a May 28 hit-and-run accident in the Denver area “from which his vehicle information was obtained,” was witnessed cutting a tracking bracket off his arm and attempting to cut a tracking band off his ankle at a Montrose business at approximately 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
“These monitors had been reportedly previously applied while the subject was awaiting trial and/or sentencing for events not related to this crime spree,” according to a report issued by the county sheriff’s office.
Shortly before noon, a couple visiting the area from Grand Junction spotted the subject hiding in the bushes west of the Hillside condominiums and alerted law enforcement. The surrounding hillsides were searched and the subject arrested on the second floor of the condo complex.
Officers and volunteers chased Smail on foot, by car and in search aircraft through Adams Ranch Road, the Mountain Village Golf Course, West Elk Meadows (and its descending cliff faces), Lawson Hill and the Valley Floor.
Smail faces possible local charges of one of more counts of vehicular eluding, first-degree criminal trespass and burglary. The second tracking band was recovered after being hidden in the Hillside subdivision and additional charges from other agencies are anticipated.
The County Sheriff's Office “and all agencies involved would again like to thank the citizens and visitors who assisted with this event,” wrote SMCSO Chief Administrative Officer Jennifer Dinsmore, “especially the female visitor with the specific and accurate recall of the suspect, his clothing and direction of travel, which led to the positive identification and capture of the subject.
“Additional thanks go to local pilot Paul Enbring who flew the search aircraft and possibly flushed the subject from the wooded hillsides surrounding the area.”