Things got a little tense–and the chairlift line got a little longer–at Vail on Friday after an off-duty Vail Resorts employee was asked by an on-duty employee to pull up his facemask, allegedly argued and then said he had a gun.
That prompted a 911 call to Vail police and the subsequent cuffing and summonsing for disorderly conduct of the off-duty employee, William Laufenburg, 26, of Avon.
“We got a 911 call reporting that a man had just threatened that he had a gun over an argument over mask-wearing,” Vail Police Commander Ryan Kenney told RealVail.com. “It didn’t quite happen that way. As he walked by the guy who asked him to pull up his mask, he had just said, ‘I have a gun,’ and he kept walking. He didn’t threaten anybody. Nothing happened.”
The incident occurred at about 11 a.m., Friday in the Chair 6 lift line at Vail’s Golden Peak area.
“We caught up to [Laufenburg] in the lift line, interviewed both the alleged victim and him and ended up giving him a summons for disorderly conduct because of what he said and the disturbance he caused because he said it,” Kenney said.
Kenney added that Laufenburg was handcuffed and removed from the area, but no gun was ultimately found on the Avon man.
“We gave him a summons because that doesn’t qualify under COVID as a custody arrest. The courts won’t let us take them into custody right now,” Kenney said, adding that despite big crowds at Vail this season there have not been a lot of pandemic-related conflicts.
“Small Number of Incidents”
“No, not at all. As a matter of fact, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the small number of incidents we’ve had,” Kenney said. “I think most people are very cordial about it, and every once in a while, we’ll get a flareup, but nothing out of control.”
Another Avon man was charged with assault for allegedly punching a man over mask-wearing in Vail earlier this ski season.
Friday’s incident did not help with a typically large lift line to start the weekend at Vail.
“From what I’ve been told, there was a very large lift line at the time,” Kenney said. “This just made things a little bit worse, so I don’t think he caused the lift line, he just caused it to get a lot worse.”
Vail and other Colorado ski resorts have been trying to enforce social distancing and mandatory face coverings during the pandemic that has claimed more than 500,000 American lives and led to an abrupt shutdown of the state’s ski industry in mid-March last year.
“Vail Mountain confirms that there was an incident involving a Vail Resorts employee on Friday, February 27, 2021, at the Golden Peak base area,” Vail spokesman John Plack wrote in an email on Saturday. “Security immediately notified the Vail Police Department who arrived on scene.”
Twenty Eagle County residents have lost their lives to the disease in the last year – including several prominent members of the community – and there have been more than 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 locally.