Notable Historical Events

Pug Ryan Robs the Denver Hotel

Deputy Ernest Conrad & Deputy Sumner Whitney Killed

 On August 11, 1898, while several prominent citizens gambled at the Denver Hotel on Main Street in Breckenridge, Pug Ryan and his gang entered the hotel. The gang originally intended to rob the hotel safe, but instead relieved the gamblers of their valuables at gunpoint, including $50 in cash from the bar till, as well as fine watches and jewelry.

Pug and his thugs fled to a remote cabin near Kokomo after the robbery. Summit County Sheriff Jerry Detweiler deputized Ernest Conrad, who had assisted with law enforcement duties in Breckenridge for years. Conrad hastened to Kokomo, where he deputized longtime Kokomo resident Sumner Whitney. The two men traveled to the cabin where the gang was hiding out.

After gaining entry to the cabin, Conrad and Whitney demanded that the gang return the stolen loot. Unwilling to comply, Pug Ryan and his gang opened fire on the two deputies. Deputy Conrad died instantly. Deputy Whitney was mortally wounded, as were two of the bandits. Pug escaped unscathed, though not before robbing one of his dying henchmen. Whitney succumbed to his wounds a few weeks later.

Pug Ryan died at the state penitentiary in Canon City in 1931. In 1908, school children discovered Pug Ryan’s treasure near Breckenridge. The found treasure included the gold watch of the Denver Hotel’s owner.

Officer Michael O'Neal Shot by Charley Norton

Officer Michael O’Neal Memorialized at National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

 On July 23, 1880, Kokomo night policeman Michael O’Neal went into Keister’s Saloon to break up a disturbance. O’Neal politely asked the patrons to quiet down. Charley Norton, proprietor of Breckenridge’s Senate Saloon, without a word of warning drew his pistol and fatally shot O’Neal in the abdomen. O’Neal had only been on the job for four days.

Norton fled into the woods but was later captured by Deputy Marshals near Leadville. He was returned to the Kokomo jail and placed under heavy guard. A few hours later, a mob of 2,000 led by O’Neal’s brother went to the jail, overpowered the guards, and dragged Norton to the outskirts of town where he was hanged from a beam in a corral.

On May 13, 2006, Officer O’Neal’s name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. during National Police Week. Undersheriff Derek Woodman and Sergeant Cale Osborn attended the ceremony as representatives of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Patrol Deputy Wendy Jean Webster Dies in Car Accident

In Memoriam: Deputy Wendy Jean Webster

 On January 8, 1990, 28-year-old Patrol Deputy Wendy Jean Webster died in a car accident near Breckenridge. Deputy Webster had been employed with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office for seven years. She was a single mom and a highly respected member of the Operations Division of the Sheriff’s Office.

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