Norman Wheatley bust in quadruple stabbing (and pit bull attack) linked to Rainbow Family

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Norman Wheatley. More images and video below.
The Rainbow Family portrays itself as a benign group populated by people who resemble throwbacks to the hippie era. But is it actually a dangerous amalgam of humanity stocked with criminals, petty and otherwise?

The latter description reflects the view of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office following the arrest of Norman Wheatley in a quadruple stabbing -- and there's also a Rainbow Family connection to this week's high profile pit bull attack on a toddler in Commerce City.

See also: "The dog had the baby in its mouth": Update on pit bull attack, owner Sue Tacket's arrest

As noted by the Fort Collins Coloradoan, annual gatherings of the Rainbow Family typically take place circa early July in either Nevada or Utah. However, members of the group come from all over the country in order to attend and Colorado is a popular spot to congregate either en route or after the fact. CW2 points out that many consider the very first Rainbow Family get-together to have taken place near Paonia in 1972.

Members of the Rainbow Family see themselves as peaceful nature lovers, as is depicted in this collection of images from a 2006 event in Colorado:

These photos couldn't contrast more sharply with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office view of the Rainbow Family. The LCSO refers to it as "a migrant association of individuals who are known to law enforcement and believed to be holding a gathering in Larimer County through the middle of August." The number of family members currently stands at around fifty, the sheriff's office notes, but reports suggest the total could eventually grow to as many as a thousand people. And that worries authorities because "at other gatherings in adjacent states, members of this association have been known to engage in various criminal activities, including possession/consumption of controlled substances, theft and fraud."

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A Google Maps look at the Red Feather Lakes area.
A considerably more serious incident is said to have taken place on Tuesday, July 15, northwest of Red Feather Lakes off County Road 73C -- a spot located on U.S. Forest Service land.

At around 11 p.m., deputies responded to a report of a stabbing. There they found four injured people: a woman who refused medical attention, a man who was taken to an area hospital by deputies, a second man transported via ambulance and 37-year-old Wheatley, who was airlifted to the Medical Center of the Rockies.

Wheatley was subsequently arrested and charged with second-degree assault.

Meanwhile, CW2 is reporting that the assorted homeless parties who were involved in or witnessed the Sunday pit bull attack on nineteen-month-old Tristan Klein had met at a Rainbow Family gathering.

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Sue Tacket during a jailhouse interview with Fox31.
The boy's mother is referred to as "Mama Rocket," and according to Sue Tacket, who was arrested after her dog, Zeus, bit the boy's face and neck, the events that led up to the attack included drunkenness a pulled knife, a kick in the stomach and an attempt by a wanted man currently at large to run over some of those on the scene with a motor home.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office is girding itself for more problems. A release from the department maintains that "citizens recreating in the National Forest lands within the county should maintain situational awareness and preparedness by securing valuables and locking car doors, and letting someone know where they are going and when they will return.... Anyone who witnesses or is a victim of a crime, or who experiences any other type of emergency, is urged to move to an area where they can contact the Larimer County Sheriff's Office as quickly as is safely practicable and call 911."

Here's a larger look at Norman Wheatley's booking photo.

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Norman Wheatley.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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68 comments
garrickbeck
garrickbeck

I’m a small business owner who regularly attends Rainbow Gatherings, often with my children and grandchildren. The vast, v-a-s-t majority of people who come to these live peaceful lives, pay their bills and are citizens of their home communities in a rather normal way. Yes, they are mostly ecologists and supporters of minority and civil rights, but that has nothing to do with condoning violence to people or property. As America has become a more violent society in the past decade, some people have come to prey on the Rainbows with their peacenik ways. This is just awful but it shouldn’t be a reflection on the thousands of good, hard-working people who make the Gatherings examples of human community in a natural setting with a great degree of care and lovingkindness. I appreciate the good work of the Sheriff’s Department in apprehending the criminals involved. It’s indeed unfortunate that people of ill-will and aggressive attitudes have taken to calling themselves Rainbow People. Of course, the Rainbow Family has always considered itself the entire human family – and when Gatherings occur in such places like Bosnia where Kurds and Sunni and Shia and Jews and Palestinians and Christians and Russians and Europeans and Americans gather together and share songs and recipes and their native legends, there is a great hope that Peace may actually be a human possibility. But here in the USA with the increasingly violent society around us, that hope sometimes seems further away.


dizzyglass40
dizzyglass40

looks like the article writer of this piece:  "googled" his reference material. hahahha, douchetard!  so your either:lazy...or are a elitist cock eater, who works for what used to be a legit denver" cultural news rag"....get a life reporter. dig a little deeper if you care about what you write! im out! peace love and......well, love. cause theres too much bullshit to overcome! 


Lucas Jamison
Lucas Jamison

this is ridiculous...quit over dramatizing the news to get ratings...the stabbing and pitbull biting a kid are two different things

Don Herman
Don Herman

Really? Those are the only two choices? Saintly peaceniks or murderous thugs?

Steve Potts
Steve Potts

This is AMERICA people! If people want that life style than do be it! But they must be willing to face any consequences that their actions may cause.

Aaron The-Icon Spriggs
Aaron The-Icon Spriggs

In the 80s, they came through Boulder. Girlfriend at the time was a small grocery store manager. She gave them permission to use the parking lot and the public bathrooms even though most of Boulder had signs in windows stating "No Rainbows." A few weeks later she caught several of them shoplifting a lot of food. Nice way to repay her kindness when most of the city was turned against them.

Gabrielle Simone
Gabrielle Simone

They act like travellers. Gypsies moving around and thieving, stealing, no morals-I have thought that several times.

James C. Bailey
James C. Bailey

Hey Worstword, fuck you and the unicorn ya rode in on.

Jillian Bridges
Jillian Bridges

I would never trust these people. I consider myself open minded, but these people just look and sound like addicts. I lost my brother to being in one of these "family" type transient groups....and they pose as hippie people but really they're looking to panhandle, find drugs, and escape normal life like jobs, taxes, normalcy....

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"But is it actually a dangerous amalgam of humanity stocked with criminals, petty and otherwise?"


... like the staff at Wasteword?





Willie Culkin
Willie Culkin

I hesitate to label them all good or bad. Like most groups (except gay Scientologists, they are ALL really nice!) they exist on a spectrum of sweet soul to complete douchebag. That being said, the Rainbow Family is a great place for criminals, douchebags and ne'er-do-wells to hide in.

Willie Culkin
Willie Culkin

So true! They cannot stoop low enough to gather clicks.

Tony Tone Cina
Tony Tone Cina

I've met quite a few of them, they are a mixed bag. The first time I met one was a Barnes And Noble, this 20 something kid with his crone 50 something girl friend, very nice. Next time, however, it was while I was posted at Wild Oats at the Juice Bar, same kind of coupling, a 20 something with an older woman. These two, however, where fucking assholes who tried to get as much stuff as possible in their smoothing without paying the extra prices required. They took their smoothies and disappeared into the back end of the store. When I walked back there 15 minutes later, their smoothie cups, emptied, where left in the produce department...couple of thieves.

Peter Strange Yumi
Peter Strange Yumi

I think of them as a bunch of people looking for a sense of belonging like anyone else does. Misguided belonging, but nonetheless people trying to find a place.

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

Actually I knew one of those guys.....they are all crust-punks.

Jay Haven
Jay Haven

Home about all those murders that "seem" to have ties to Christianity ?

George White
George White

I feel threatened by Sue Tacket's toofs.

Jaci Davis
Jaci Davis

Alot of them live in my alley on 16th st. They cant afford anything (food.. soap... living in doors) but they ALWAYS smoking drugs snd feeding all their dogs. .. if brown people lived in big homeless groups the man would have already banned them and there would be a special task force to rid them all... think about it... its ok for whites but not browns to live in big groups of unemployed law braking stinky begging groups......

Pam Stiffler
Pam Stiffler

I know people who have had some REALLY bad experiences with them, but I also know folks who love the lifestyle. As always there 's good & bad in any group...politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, parents...and on and on and on. Plus, dogs and children learn what they live! Stop blaming the dogs for their jerk-wad people.

Andrew Meacham
Andrew Meacham

I consider them a bunch of ignorant transients with some good intentions that cannot be brought forth with the leadership and lifestyle the live.

Todd Bruns
Todd Bruns

If it was ne other dog attack it wouldn't be on your feed but since it's a Pitbull it makes your headlines.

Kandi Kandi
Kandi Kandi

Shame on you Westword. This is bs. You add pit bull attack into the headline to create issues. Stop with it

Kenny Jaudon
Kenny Jaudon

Actually, a lot of these "hippies" today are pretty violent, and a good portion if the fan base acts as a gang. you'd be surprised just how much that "family" sucks.

Gerard_Portmanteau
Gerard_Portmanteau

The Rainbow "Family" is a collection of low-level thieves and junkies with a few well-meaning gawkers passing in and out. The hardcores are about as peace and love-y as a dirty syringe.

Nick Roseland
Nick Roseland

Fire whoever runs your social media site! They are literally destroying your credibility as a news organization. It's as tho it's being run by someone in HS. Oh, and "pit bull" in headlines do not scare people anymore. So stop. Get educated.

DerpMcDerpington
DerpMcDerpington

@dizzyglass40 Learn some English before trying to look like an idiot.  You'll still be an idiot, either way, but at least your BS will be readable.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

"they pose as hippie people but really they're looking to panhandle, find drugs, and escape normal life like jobs, taxes, normalcy...."


Just your typical liberal, Jill.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Memorable and very well-written post, Willie. We're going to highlight it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Tony. Much appreciated.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Interesting take, Peter. Thanks for posting.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... Jesus would be proud of your compassion.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Passionately put. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pam.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... Ah yes, Family, what can you do? ... you can't live with 'em, you can't stab 'em.



muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Yeah, because pit bulls became warm and fuzzy all of a sudden.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@fishingblues Just a few typical conservaturds:

-- Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

-- Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter, the Susan Smith who drowned her adorable two sons "in cold blood" in a South Carolina lake in 1995.

-- Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

-- Republican preacher Stephen White, who demanded a return to traditional values, was sentenced to jail after offering $20 to a 14-year-old boy for permission to perform oral sex on him.

-- Republican talk show host Jon Matthews pleaded guilty to exposing his genitals to an 11 year old girl.

-- Republican anti-gay activist Earl "Butch" Kimmerling was sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting an 8-year old girl after he attempted to stop a gay couple from adopting her.

-- Republican Party leader Paul Ingram pleaded guilty to six counts of raping his daughters and served 14 years in federal prison.

-- Republican election board official Kevin Coan was sentenced to two years probation for soliciting sex over the internet from a 14-year old girl.

-- Republican Tennessee State Representative, Keith Westmoreland was arrested on seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition to girls under the age of 16 (i.e. exposing himself to children).

-- Republican anti-abortion activist John Allen Burt was found guilty of molesting a 15-year old girl at the home for troubled girls that he ran.

-- Republican County Councilman Keola Childs pleaded guilty to molesting a male child.

-- Republican candidate Richard Gardner,a Nevada State Representative, admitted to molesting his two daughters.

-- Republican Councilman and former Marine Jack W. Gardner had been convicted of molesting a 13-year old girl. when the Republican Party, knowing of these crimes, put him on the ballot.

-- Republican County Commissioner Merrill Robert Barter pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault on a teenage boy.

-- Republican City Councilman Fred C. Smeltzer, Jr. pleaded no contest to raping a 15 year-old girl and served 6-months in prison. Republican activist Parker J. Bena pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography on his home computer and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and fined $18,000.

-- Republican parole board officer and former Colorado state representative, Larry Jack Schwarz, was fired after child pornography was found in his possession. With his political career over, he went to work in the hard-core pornography industry for Platinum X Pictures, owned by his daughter, porn starlet Jewel De'Nyle (Stephany Schwarz).

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