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By Matt Adelman
Douglas Budget Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Man found guilty of 13 felony charges in shooting of hunters

 

August 25, 2022



DOUGLAS — A Converse County jury took about three hours Thursday to convict Solomon Bolen on 13 of 15 felonies stemming from the attempted murder of three California hunters just short of a year ago.

The 42-year-old Douglas-area resident was charged with a slew of crimes stemming from a spree along Irvine Road in October 2021, with burglaries involving weapons and pickup trucks and culminating with the shooting of the three out-of-state hunters – George Heger, John Cleary and Richard Cleary – as they sat in their truck. A few minutes earlier, the hunters had an encounter with Bolen, whom they found lurking at their hunting camp set up on the Prado Ranch.

Following his conviction, the hunters said that Bolen had appeared to be looking for a place to stay but was acting strangely. They chased him away and called the landowners, the Prados, to find out what they wanted to do about him.

Then they saw him head toward the ranch house, so the men drove down toward the house to see what was going on. As they sat in their truck watching, Bolen stepped out of a house. He immediately lifted the rifle he was carrying.

“I didn’t see him at first. Richard said he had a rifle. I looked at the house and was looking down the barrel of a rifle,” Heger recalled.

The men started driving away. Bolen gave chase on foot and began firing. Heger was hit in the leg, his tissue splattering against the inside cab and his blood quickly filling the floorboard.

“Hunters being the hunted . . .,” is how Heger described the scene. “Fortunately, Bolen wasn’t good at what he was doing. He wasn’t a good burglar, and he wasn’t a good killer.”

John Cleary, who was in the driver’s seat, was shot in the foot. Bullet holes riddled the truck.

Richard Cleary, who was sitting in the back seat, wasn’t hit.

“He shot, pulled the bolt back . . . and fired again and again . . . in rapid succession,” the men said, finishing each other’s sentences as they recounted the horrors of the afternoon and making the “air motion” of a bolt-action rapid fire.

Heger said he knew he was “bleeding out” even as he found his cell phone and called 9-1-1, but a quick-thinking deputy who responded applied a tight tourniquet and stopped the bleeding, saving his life, he said.

While calling dispatch, he finally said he had to hang up because he was “bleeding out.” He thought he was about to die. The dispatcher kept him talking.

At the time, he thought it was about nothing important and he just wanted to hang up; now he realizes, it was to keep him alert and talking. And he was lucky.

The deputy, Andrew Smart, was the first responder on the scene – and Heger’s luck was that a large group of deputies were at the shooting range three miles away when the call about the shootings came in, according to those at the scene.

Smart and many other deputies raced into action. Smart removed a bungee cord from Heger’s leg, which one of the Clearys had used along with a belt to try to stem bleeding. Heger said the bungee cord slowed the bleeding but didn’t stop it. Smart applied the medical tourniquet, telling Heger it might hurt, as the blood continued squirting from his leg.

As first responders worked to save the men and secure the scene and other locations such as the house, other law enforcement pursued Bolen, who had fled in a stolen truck through hay fields until he went into a house owned by the late Lewis Stock, sat down at a table, laid a rifle down and waited for them after telling someone in the house, “I think I just shot someone.”

Stock, who died recently from an unrelated medical condition, had told the Budget he knew Bolen previously but made it clear the man was not staying at this house nor was he welcome on his property.

At the time, Stock declined to say specifically who Bolen talked to in the house, saying instead he would explain it once the trial was over.

The three hunters testified in the opening days of the trial last week, but then were sequestered for the remainder of the four days of testimony as they awaited the verdict, which came Thursday evening.

The trio said Friday that the experience was traumatic but made better by the quick actions of the first responders and law enforcement as well as prosecutors who got justice for them, especially for Heger who was the most injured.

The jury found Bolen guilty of three counts of attempted second degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault and battery, two counts of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery with use of a deadly weapon and intentionally inflicting serious bodily injury, property destruction for the guns taken from Tracy Sanborn’s home, eluding law enforcement, possession of a controlled substance and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

He was found not guilty of property destruction for the truck belonging to Stock and property destruction for the damage to the hay field belonging to Prado.

Judge John Brooks ordered a pre-sentence investigation for Bolen before scheduling sentencing, which could be in 60-90 days or longer. Bolen remains in jail pending sentencing.

This story was published on August 24, 2022.

 
 

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