Andrea Chalfin

News Director

Andrea came to KRCC in 2008 by way of Missouri. She’s responsible for KRCC’s overall news presence, and oversees a cadre of freelancers and students.  Her award-winning work has been heard on NPR, The World (PRI), and the BBC. The Ohio native loves music and media, food, and the open road; it’s also not uncommon to see her taking a walk through downtown Colorado Springs.  Follow Andrea on Twitter @AndreaChalfin.


Authorities have identified the civilian victims of Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic on the city's northwest side as 35-year-old Jennifer Markovsky and 29-year-old Ke'Arre Marcell Stewart.  Officials previously identified UCCS Police Officer Garrett Swasey as another fatality.

Stewart was a veteran of the Iraq War who recently left the military.  Markovsky is being described as a kind-hearted, lovable person. 

Swasey's family released a statement Sunday, thanking people for their support and asking for privacy.  

A resource center is opening today to assist people directly impacted by Friday's shooting incident.  It will open today at 1:00 at the Mortgage Solutions Financial Center, 3650 North Nevada.  Support personnel will be on hand from the police and fire departments, sheriff's office, District Attorney's office, as well as mental health and spiritual care professionals.

Andrea Chalfin

Vigils are being held in Colorado Springs Saturday for the victims of Friday's shootout at the Planned Parenthood clinic on the city's northwest side. Governor John Hickenlooper has ordered flags lowered to half-staff until further notice. 

Three were killed Friday as a gunman holed up in the clinic for hours.  Among the dead are two civilians, and Officer Garrett Swasey, a six-year veteran of the police department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

UPDATE Saturday 4 PM: Updated information from the city says four civilians were transported to hospitals with gunshot wounds during the incident.  Five law enforcement officers, four with the Colorado Springs Police Department and one from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, were also taken to hospitals with gunshot wounds.  Three additional police officers were injured.  All are in good condition and expected to make full recoveries.

Noel Black

44-year-old Officer Garrett Swasey has been identified as the police officer killed in today's incident. Swasey was a six-year veteran of the UCCS Police Department, and was responding in support of the Colorado Springs Police Department.

UPDATE: 7:00 PM MST:  Colorado Springs police are confirming three fatalities, two civilians and one police officer from UCCS.

Four other civilians and five officers are in the hospital in "good condition."

Deputy Chief J. Petersma / Falcon Fire Department

Crews from several El Paso County area fire departments responded to a grass fire in the eastern part of the county Tuesday afternoon.  The El Paso County Sheriff's Office says its dispatch office sent out nearly 130 reverse 911 calls to nearby residents, and a voluntary evacuation was put in place for residents bound by Shear, Edison, Fossinger, and Yoder Roads.

A study of the 2012 Waldo Canyon wildfire recommends that crews fighting similar fires that spread into urban areas be trained in both structure protection and traditional wildland firefighting tactics. 

Alex Maranghides, fire protection engineer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST says the investigation shows defensive measures specifically designed for the wildland urban interface, or WUI, can benefit firefighting efforts.

The polls are closed and ballots are being counted across the state on a variety of issues.  These results are not final as ballots are still being counted.

Results as of 5:40 AM Wednesday.

Statewide, Proposition BB, which would allow the state to keep tax revenue from marijuana, is passing with 67% of the vote in favor.

In Colorado Springs, voters have approved Issue 2C with 65% in favor.  It will increase the sales tax by .62% to help pay for road repairs and is expected to raise about $50 million annually for five years.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Department and Colorado Springs Police Department have released the identities of the victims from Saturday morning's shooting incident. 

33-year old Noah Harpham killed three before being killed by police in a shootout.  The original victims have been identified as:

35-year old Andrew Myers
42-year-old Jennifer Vasquez
34-year old Christina Baccus-Gallela. 

Roads Update 9:42 PM Sat 10/31/15: All roads are now open. 

Roads Update 7:20 PM Sat 10/31/15:  Platte and Wasatch are open.  There are still closures on Prospect.

Original post:

Authorities are keeping several city blocks closed near downtown Colorado Springs through much of Saturday as they investigate an incident that resulted in four fatalities, including the death of the suspect.

Milken Family Foundation

A middle school teacher in Pueblo County is one of up to 40 nationwide to win a Milken Educator Award.

Former Staff Sergeant Ryan Moore has taught for seven years after spending six in the Army.  The 8th grade science teacher at Liberty Pointe International in Pueblo West was surprised by the award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000. 

Moore says his teaching philosophy is based on relationships.

"Through relationship teaching, you learn about these kids, you learn about their home lives, you learn about their struggles, you learn about their successes," says Moore.  "And when you do that, teaching becomes easy because you know how to reach them.  And it also becomes easy because you want to help these kinds once you know them."

Moore says he genuinely loves his work and the people at his school. 

Milken Educator Awards come from the Milken Family Foundation, which cites Moore's classroom imagination and leadership as some of the reasons for the award.

Steve Wilson / Flickr - Creative Commons

Efforts to fund much-needed repairs to Amtrak's Southwest Chief line got an extra boost Monday as the U. S. Department of Transportation awarded $15.2 million to the project.  Combined with matching funds, the grant, known as a TIGER grant, totals $24.5 million.

"This is really a huge win," said Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace, who also heads the state's Southwest Chief commission. "And [it] shows that if you put aside your differences, you forget about party, if you forget about state lines, if you all work together you can accomplish great things."

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Efforts to fund much-needed repairs to Amtrak's Southwest Chief line got an extra boost today as the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded 15.2 million dollars to the project. 

Combined with matching funds, the grant, known as a TIGER grant, totals 24.5 million. Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace heads the state's Southwest Chief commission:

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

Work is set to begin this week on rail lines in western Kansas that carry Amtrak's Southwest Chief.  Portions of that track, plus segments in southeastern Colorado, were the target of a federal transportation grant awarded last year to help repair and upgrade freight lines to passenger rail speeds.  And, Colorado's Steel City is getting a boost from the work.

Agencies are planning a number of prescribed burns throughout the area, focusing on reducing fuel load and promoting forest health:

Whole Foods says it will stop selling products made by a Colorado prison labor program after a protest against the practice at one of its stores in Texas.  The company says the products should be out of its stores by April 2016, if not sooner. Whole Foods says it has sold tilapia and goat cheese produced through the Colorado Correctional Industries program in Canon City since at least 2011.

Prison reform advocates have likened the program to indentured servitude, citing low wages. 

The Colorado Springs Police Department has received a grant of $600,000 to purchase 500 body cameras. The department plans to assign the cameras to about 470 police officers who work closely with citizens.

Policies will come after public input, says CSPD Commander Pat Rigdon, adding that they'll also be informed by the department's pilot program and by what other police departments have done. 

The La Plata County Sheriff's Office is releasing more information in the case of Dylan Redwine, the Monument 13-year-old who disappeared in southwestern Colorado in 2012.  His remains were found less than a year later.

Earlier this summer, the sheriff's office said they had a person of interest.  Investigators are now naming that person as Mark Redwine, Dylan's father.  The county coroner has also amended Dylan's death certificate to reflect "homicide" as the cause of death, as opposed to "undetermined."

Colorado Springs City Council gave preliminary approval to place two measures on November's ballot that would benefit roads and parks. 

Mayor John Suthers formally presented his proposals at Tuesday's council meeting, one of which will ask residents for a .62% sales tax increase for road repairs.  It would sunset in five years and generate around $50 million each year.

Critics say that money can be found in the existing budget, but Suthers says that's just not realistic.

The city of Colorado Springs is continuing steps in smoothing over a contentious stormwater issue with its southern neighbor.  City Council yesterday passed a resolution allowing Mayor John Suthers to put $150,000 toward funding a restoration master plan for the Monument Creek Watershed.  Monument Creek flows into Fountain Creek.  High flows there have been causing problems for Pueblo downstream.

Pueblo City Council President Steve Nawrocki says he's been working with Mayor Suthers to address the chronic issue, adding that he's satisfied with the efforts thus far.

A burned American flag was discovered on a statue in front of Colorado Springs City Hall early Tuesday morning, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department.  An investigation revealed the flag to be the one typically displayed in front of City Hall. 

Investigators with the department have checked surveillance cameras to no avail, says CSPD Public Information Officer Lieutenant Catherine Buckley.  Buckley says they currently have no suspects for what she says is a misdemeanor crime. 

Bob Wick, BLM California / BLM Flickr / Creative Commons

A last-minute change to an indoor venue due to stormy weather couldn't keep folks away from a dedication ceremony Saturday for Colorado's newest National Monument.  Supporters gathered in bleachers at the Buena Vista High School gym to hear from local, state, and federal officials as they celebrated the designation.

The nearly 22,000-acres of public land that stretches from Buena Vista to Salida in Chaffee County along the Arkansas River is well known for its recreation and wildlife. 

Brian Fuchs, National Drought Mitigation Center; David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center / U.S. Drought Monitor

Dry conditions across Colorado have largely disappeared, according to the latest U. S. Drought Monitor. 

Only a small portion of the state remains listed under the "Abnormally Dry"  classification, compared with more than a quarter last week.  Those remaining dry locations are in the northwest and southwest portions of the state.  

No portion of Colorado currently faces drought conditions.

The U. S. Drought Monitor shows about 98% of the state clear of all classifications of drought and dry conditions, compared with 59% one year ago.

Andrea Chalfin

Some lawmakers are rumbling about possibly moving the Colorado State Fair from Pueblo. Colorado's Legislative Audit Committee took up the issue of State Fair finances Tuesday, noting that the annual event has lost money each year for more than a decade. 

The Fair receives state and local support, but some committee members questioned Pueblo's commitment, and suggested it might make the Fair more financially viable if it moved.

Pueblo City Council President Steve Nawrocki says the city's contributions are on a rebound.

Fort Carson is faring better than many as part of the Army's efforts to reduce overall troop numbers by 40,000.

The Mountain Post will lose about 365 soldiers, a fraction of the 16,000 once deemed possible

In a statement, Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers called this good news for the city, and says it's "an indication of the importance of Ft. Carson in the overall defense mission.  It also reflects positively on the case Colorado Springs has made on behalf of Ft. Carson."

Haze from smoke drifting south from wildfires burning in Canada continues to linger over Colorado, prompting the state's health department to issue a wildfire smoke health advisory for much of the Front Range. The advisory includes El Paso, Pueblo, Huerfano, Las Animas and Otero Counties, and is set to expire at 4 PM Wednesday. (UPDATE: The advisory has been extended until 9 AM Thursday.)

During the Cold War, the Army began making land acquisitions to develop a training site where mountain post soldiers could prepare for war in an environment similar to potential areas for deployment. The result was the establishment of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, an over 200,000 acre training area in Southeastern Colorado. More than 20 years later, in 2006, the Army sought to expand the site. Instead, they met a local organized resistance, and were unable to extend their training ground.  

The National Weather Service in Pueblo says Colorado Springs received a record breaking 3.16 inches of rain Monday.  The old record, set more than a century ago in 1914, was 2.27 inches.  The record-breaking day comes after a record-breaking month of May, which, for the most part, removed southern Colorado from lingering drought conditions. 

Andrea Chalfin / KRCC

The Department of Defense has approved plans to modify and increase training at the Army's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in Southern Colorado.  The Record of Decision [.pdf], signed May 1 and made available last week, approves what's being called "Enhanced Readiness Training," to include brigade-size exercises an

Jason Turner / Photo courtesy: Pueblo Nature and Raptor Center

A member of the endangered California condor species was found far from home in a backyard near Colorado Springs.  The large bird was taken to the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo after being picked up by the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and transported via Colorado Parks and Wildlife volunteers.

Diana Miller, director of the Pueblo Nature and Raptor Center, said the bird was in good condition, despite being a little thin.

It was sent Tuesday morning to the Peregrine Fund in Arizona to be reintroduced into the wild.