WHEATLAND – An unknown shooter is being sought as part of an ongoing investigation by both the Platte County Sheriff’s Office and the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) according to Platte County Undersheriff, Grady Winders.
According to Winders, the sheriff’s department was called out to Lee’s Towing at 48 S. Wheatland Highway Tuesday morning to investigate damage that was done by a bullet that was fired into the engine of one of their tow trucks.
The Sheriff’s Department was contacted again Wednesday as it was discovered that more trucks were fired upon and disabled due to bullets that penetrated the radiator and went into the engines of the trucks.
The Department of Criminal Investigation was called to the scene and according to Jeremy Lange, of Lee’s Towing, shell casings were found just beyond a barbed wire fence line across Wheatland Highway. Slugs were also recovered from a flatbed wrecker and inside one of the truck engines.
Lee’s Towing, according to their website, services the Glendo and Wheatland areas and “is the best light duty, heavy duty and roadside assistance towing company.”
The Langes who moved their towing business from Colorado in 2017 found their current location at 48 S. Wheatland Highway after working out of their home and although convenient, their in-town operation was not a workable solution for them or for the community.
“We love Wheatland,” Jeremy Lange said. “The community is great and for the most part we’ve been welcomed with open arms, but there are some people that don’t like us because we are not from here.”
The towing company itself was purchased by Lange’s wife, Tiffany and another woman in 2010 in Colorado. The couple decided to move from the Greeley area to Wheatland where they thought that life could slow down a bit for them.
In 2020 the couple were fortunate to get ahead a bit and they purchased their building in the current location on S. Wheatland Highway.
“It’s been nice to move our business from our home,” he said. “It allows us to separate our home from our work.”
The fleet currently has six vehicles and of those, both heavy wreckers were damaged and a large wrecker. The flat-bed wrecker was hit by a bullet, but did not sustain any damage. They currently have two small wreckers still in service. The vehicles disabled were a 2015 F450, a 2019 35-ton Peterbilt, and a 2012 55-ton Peterbilt. According to Lange, the damage could go up to somewhere around $1M.
“We counted nine total shots,” he said. “Two in the F450, three in each of the Peterbilt’s and one into the flatbed.”
The DCI has recovered the shells from the 2012, and two shrouds from the F450 but the others are still lodged inside the other engine. It has to be torn down to recover them according to Lange.
“I don’t want to speak out suspicions or who did it,” he said. “My big concern is for the community, for my wife and my kids. We have an active shooter in Wheatland that was not only shooting at my tow trucks, but he was shooting across the highway.”
Lee’s towing figured the shooting to take place after dark Oct. 11. At that point there were no drivers on the towing lot or in the apartment that they maintain for truckers that have been broken down and need a place to stay.
“We moved our kids here because it was a small town,” Lange said. “We thought that things like this wouldn’t happen in a small town. So that’s my big concern right now. I hope that the sheriff and DCI can find the person or persons that did this so that all of us in Wheatland can feel safe.”
Stauffer’s Towing from Salt Lake City has stepped up to loan Lee’s Towing two heavy wreckers so that the business does not have to be inactive. Lee’s Towing is still able to provide a service to the community.
“We need to keep going,” he said. “We have bills and we have employees that count on us to keep them employed so they can pay their bills. So, we gotta keep going. We can’t allow this act of terrorism to shut us down. Although I felt like giving up for the sake and safety of my family, both my wife and my mentor Curtis Stauffer told me NOT to give up or the people who did this would win. I am not giving up.”
Lange’s wife Tiffany who spoke though tears said, “It’s really saddening that someone would take their dislike for someone or some organization to this level. It’s very disturbing. We’re making it through with a few tears shed, but I was raised to keep going and not ever give in, so we’re going to keep on keepin’ on.”
The couple found the damage initially as they were taking the trucks out on calls. In both instances on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, the trucks had their motors seize up and both of them had to be towed back to the business. After the second truck went down, they knew this was not a mistake or an accident, but in fact, their business was targeted.