With bars allowed to stay open late, local law enforcement is seeing an uptick in crime, evidenced by two large fights Saturday night at the Wild Horse Saloon and The Garage, resulting in arrests.
“We are seeing a lot of activity, and it seems like it’s not from locals,” said Durango Police Department Cmdr. Jacob Dunlop.
The first fight broke out at the Wild Horse Saloon, in the 600 block of East Second Avenue, around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, after two separate groups got into an argument.
A woman in one group, identified as Alicia Gail Stegall, 40, of Aztec started attacking a woman in another group, hitting her several times, Dunlop said.
Dunlop said the victim, a 45-year-old from Farmington, ended up with significant injuries to her eye.
Stegall was arrested on suspicion of felony second-degree assault and taken to La Plata County Jail.
Around 11:50 p.m. Saturday, another fight started at The Garage (formerly Colorado Pongas), at 121 W. Eighth St. in downtown Durango.
Dunlop said one group was leaving the bar and getting into a car, when another group started throwing snowballs at them.
As the group was trying to leave in the car, the other group pulled up in a pickup truck, got out of the vehicle and started pulling members of the other group out of the car and attacking them.
Two women from the pickup ganged up on a woman in the car, Dunlop said. A man from the car tried to stop the fight, but another man from the pickup punched him in the face.
The Southern Ute Police Department later contacted the pickup. Charges are pending, Dunlop said. The victims in the car were from San Juan County, New Mexico.
With the COVID-19 public health regulations, bars have either been closed for periods of time or allowed to open at limited capacity.
Under current public health orders, bars are supposed to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m. The past year, Dunlop said officers haven’t been called to bars as much as in a normal year.
But recently, officers have noted an uptick in late-night crime. Dunlop speculated that many of the people involved in incidents are from out of town, where public health orders may be more restrictive. He also said DUIs are on the rise.
“We have started seeing an increase in traffic,” Dunlop said. “I have noticed more activity at night.”