MONTROSE – Due to a conflict of interest, charges against Montrose City Councilor Kathy Ellis, stopped last month at the Montrose Regional Airport for mistakenly bringing a semi-automatic pistol through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint have been moved to the Mesa County District Attorney's office for review.
"This is a case that we have been asked to review," Mesa County Assistant District Attorney Trish Mahre said Monday. As a Montrose County Commissioner, Kathy Ellis’ husband, Gary Ellis, is tasked with approving funding to the Montrose DA's office. Mahre expects the review process to about "two weeks" to process.
The gun was found on Monday, Oct. 21, as the Ellises went through security to board a plane to Las Vegas. TSA screeners alerted Montrose County Sheriff deputies, who took possession of the pistol Ellis was carrying in her purse and booked it into evidence, according to Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap.
"I just forgot it was in my purse. All the time leading up to it, I just felt something was wrong," Ellis told The Watch. "Gary and I are elected officials and are in the public eye,” she said. “Gary insisted that I get a permit to carry the gun, largely to protect myself.
"She was more surprised than the people standing around," Dunlap said, of Ellis’ reaction to the gun’s discovery.
The offense could carry a charge of a class six felony; Mahre said Monday that is one of "many options" the DA's office could pursue upon completion of its review.
According to qualifying requirements set forth by the city, any member of the council convicted of a felony must vacate their seat.
Gary Ellis said his wife takes her purse everywhere, with her gun usually inside it, and before traveling, instead of leaving the pistol on "the dresser, she just forgot, plain and simple."
He said he was partly to blame for the incident, after insisting years ago that his wife, the former mayor of Montrose, apply for and receive a permit to carry a gun. He wanted her to be permitted to carry a gun for added protection, he said, because she is a public figure and a member of Montrose city government.