Leticia Bentley knows that some members of Moab’s Latino community fear for their safety after the recent homicide of Gregario Salazar Campos.
That’s why she was happy that local law enforcement officials met with about 70 Latino residents Tuesday, April 23, at the Episcopal Church of St. Francis in Moab.
Grand County Sheriff Steve White and Sgt. Laurencia Bowcher spent 45 minutes answering questions from the audience. Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison and Moab Police Chief Mike Navarre also attended. A photo of Campos sat on a table near the front of the church, with candles placed at each side.
White told the audience that the investigation into Campos’ death is continuing and he could not discuss details of the case. However, he and Bowcher responded to many questions about the U.S. legal system and other topics.
Campos’ body was discovered April 7 in the Colorado River north of Moab. The 33-year-old Moab resident suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head, according to White.
Brody Blu Kruckenberg and Charles Anthony Nelson, both 16, have been charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, in connection with the death. They are being held in the Grand County Jail on $250,000 cash-only bonds.
Kruckenberg’s mother, Corina Yardley, 44, also is being held in the jail on a charge of obstruction of justice. Her bail is set at $50,000 cash-only.
After Tuesday’s question-and-answer period, White said about 90 percent of the discussion focused on the legal process and how the court system works in this country.
“There was a lot about [Nelson, Kruckenberg and Yardley’s] bail amounts,” he said.
A woman in the audience asked White and Bowcher, “How can you recognize someone who is threatening?”
Bowcher responded in Spanish. She did most of the talking during the session, taking questions posed in Spanish and responding in the same language.
She and White gave their phone numbers to those in attendance and urged them to contact law enforcement if they were fearful of anything. White told a woman after the meeting, “If you start hearing things, let us know. We want to be ahead of the curve.”
White said during an interview that some Moab Latinos have been concerned for their own safety and the safety of their families because of “general hearsay” after Campos’ death and some comments posted on Facebook pages.
Bentley said she believes the discussion will do a lot to reassure Latinos that they are safe in Moab.
“I am very happy the officers came to speak to the community,” she said. “They answered many important questions. There are some rumors that are not true. This will make people feel heard and understood.”
Jim Tendick, president of the board for the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, agreed the evening’s discussion was valuable.
“It’s always really helpful to people to have direct access to people of responsibility,” he said. “The legal system here is so different from Mexico. The court system is very different.
“They don’t have the presumption of innocence. The whole concept of being able to post bail is different.”
He said the appearance by law enforcement officials “will go a long way” toward making local Latinos feel comfortable.
Nelson, Kruckenberg and Yardley are scheduled to appear in court May 7 before 7th District Judge Lyle R. Anderson. All three are being represented by court-appointed attorneys.