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Suspect sought

Police are seeking a 20-year-old Lovell man in connection with a Thursday fight in which another man reportedly was stabbed in the hand.

A Park County warrant has been issued for the arrest of Raymond Ortiz on a charge of aggravated assault.

Court documents filed in the case allege Ortiz used a knife to cut a 19-year-old Powell man, Julio Chavez, during an Thursday afternoon altercation in front of Northwest Trading Post.

The incident and subsequent unsuccesful search for Ortiz led police to request the lockdown of most Powell schools.

Witnesses told police Ortiz and Chavez had exchanged words inside Northwest Trading Post and took the dispute outside, says an affidavit of probable cause used to seek Ortiz’s arrest.

As the two squared up to fight, Chavez began taking off his jacket and Ortiz pulled a knife and lunged at him, striking him in the hand, the affidavit says.

Ortiz and his 18-year-old brother Joshua Ortiz then fled the scene on foot, the affidavit says.

Police were summoned to the area just before 2 p.m.

Chavez, who reportedly was bleeding from his hand, was taken to Powell Valley Hospital for treatment and released later that day.

Joshua Ortiz was located and arrested by police, but Raymond Ortiz was not. As of Monday afternoon, he remained at large, and Powell Police Chief Tim Feathers said police have received information indicating Raymond Ortiz may have left the area.

On Thursday afternoon, police asked administrators at the nearby Westside and Southside elementary schools to go on lockdown when Ortiz, seen running east, went missing.

“The last thing we wanted was the armed person fleeing into a school looking for a place to hide,” said Feathers.

In an unusual development, Ortiz called law enforcement while police were searching for him, speaking with Powell Police Investigator Dave Brown.

“He claimed at that time to have entered ... an unlocked, unoccupied building, and that’s where he was hiding,” said Feathers. Before the cell phone connection was lost, Ortiz indicated to Brown that he was scared and hiding in an empty trailer in the area of South Jones Street, the arrest affidavit says. Brown’s attempts to call Ortiz back were unsuccessful.

With school release time nearing, the concern over a school child returning home and encountering an armed man was another reason for a lockdown and controlled release, Feathers said.

Despite some wild rumors circulating throughout town — including one variation involving an armed gunman mowing down Powell residents — “it was simply an altercation between two guys, and one pulled a knife out and cut the other man,” said Feathers.

Chavez and Ortiz had previously argued over Ortiz dating Chavez’s younger sister, a friend of Chavez told police.
“These two guys had a prior problem and they just happened to run into each other there (at Northwest Trading Post),” Feathers said.

Joshua Ortiz has been charged with misdemeanor charges of accessory after the fact and interference with a peace officer; he pleaded not guilty to those counts on Friday in Circuit Court. A trial is scheduled for March 10.

The warrant for Raymond Ortiz’s arrest is for a felony count of aggravated assault.

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