Vandalism incident at Grand Lodge causes a stir

“Hannibal Lector” chair used

In the early hours of the morning on May 9, a drunk and disorderly man went on a destructive rampage in a Mt. Crested Butte hotel.



According to a May 19 police report from Mt. Crested Butte police chief Hank Smith, Gunnison dispatch received a call from the night clerk at the Grand Lodge at approximately 3:50 a.m. “concerning a berserk individual destroying the lobby.”
Mt. Crested Butte does not have round-the-clock police coverage. Smith, being the only officer who lives within town limits, is usually called to respond to such early-morning incidents, but he was out of town at the time. Instead, officer Anthony Burton was called to respond. He had just finished the night shift at 3 a.m. and was back at home when the call was made. Officer Jeff Ewert was also contacted to assist as back-up.
Ewert got to the Grand Lodge at approximately 4:20 a.m., and Burton arrived shortly thereafter.
Smith says, “From the time they put hands on the subject, it took them 10 minutes to get both cuffs on him.” Due to the subject’s violent nature, the officers had to use their metal batons to keep him controlled. Burton was struck once in the knee during the scuffle.
The night clerk was on the phone the whole time and gave a blow-by-blow account of the melee to dispatch.
The man responsible for the rampage is Benjamin Payson, 24, of Mt. Crested Butte.
Once restrained, Payson was transported to the Gunnison Detention Facility and Burton went to the hospital to have his leg checked.
Smith says, “while Burton was at the hospital, jailers brought the prisoner into the (emergency room) in their “Hannibal Lector” chair, since they couldn’t discern what was wrong, drug wise, with the prisoner.”
Grand Lodge front desk clerk Kindra Luberski says the night auditor wasn’t too shaken by the event. She says it’s a slow time at the Grand Lodge, and that was the only thing happening that night. “He pretty much stayed in the back office waiting for the police to show up,” she says of the night auditor.
When the scuffle ended, Luberski says there may have been close to $9,000 in damage. “There were tables and chairs flipped over, glass was broken, lights and tapestries were pulled off the wall. We had to do some painting, too. He punched a hole in one wall so we had to fix that.”
Payson is being charged with criminal mischief over $1,000, second degreed criminal trespass, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.  
Burton was checked out by medical personnel and, after a few days leave, is now back on regular duty.

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