Authorities have arrested a man who allegedly kidnapped a woman at gunpoint at a ranch belonging to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Rio Blanco County sheriff’s office said. The woman is safe, the sheriff’s office said.
According to court documents, the suspect, 48-year-old Joseph Beecher, rammed his vehicle through a gate at the ranch around 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday. Security footage showed he exited his vehicle, examined the locked gate and returned to his vehicle, then accelerated toward the gate and rammed through it.
The woman is an employee at the ranch, and she told authorities she had been at work, inspecting a closet, when the suspect allegedly came up behind her and asked who she was. She told authorities that when she turned around, an unknown man was pointing a “black machine gun” in her face.
The Rio Blanco County sheriff’s office had first responded to a call in the area of a vehicle crash. That transitioned into trespassing and then a kidnapping as they learned more, the sheriff’s office said. According to court documents, surveillance footage showed they drove off in the woman’s vehicle, and Beecher’s car was found abandoned in the snow.
The sheriff’s office said Beecher allegedly made several stops with the woman in the Denver metro area before going into Wyoming later in the evening. Investigative work by federal authorities showed Beecher allegedly had the woman at a Cheyenne motel.
Members of the Cheyenne police department SWAT team arrested Beecher early Thursday without incident at the motel, the Rio Blanco County sheriff’s office said. Beecher was in possession of multiple firearms at the time of his arrest, including an AR15, according to an affidavit.
The woman has been reunited with her family and Beecher is being held without bail.
The Rio Blanco County sheriff’s office said the reason Beecher traveled to the ranch was unclear, although the Associated Press reported that he first asked about Bloomberg’s daughters. Citing court documents, the Associated Press reported that Beecher said he wanted to “make an international scene” with the billionaire or his daughters.
The Bloomberg family was out of town at the time of the incident. A spokesperson for the family told authorities they are “deeply grateful” for their “swift and heroic action.”