How to help Colorado’s highest town

Brief by Central Staff

Alma rampage – April 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Rampage devastates Alma

The same week that Park County recalled its commissioners, one of its towns suffered from an incredible rampage.

Alma, with about 200 residents, sits a few miles up Hoosier Pass from Fairplay. On the evening of Feb. 26, its former mayor, Willie Morrison, was killed in the town hall as he conducted an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

And that is just the start of the charges against accused shooter Thomas Dean Leask, a 50-year-old roustabout and an Alma native.

Witnesses said that Leask, after the shooting, tossed two molotov cocktails into the town hall. Then he went outside, started the town’s front-end loader, and went on a rampage, crashing the machine through several buildings before setting his family home afire.

“He basically wiped out the government here,” said Don Anthony of the Park County Sheriff’s Department. “He took out the town hall, the fire station, the post office, the water-treatment plant. He took out the phones and partial electricity.”

After the rampage, Leask fled on foot into the woods with a rifle and handgun. Deputies surrounded him and persuaded him to surrender.

Although much damage to town facilities was covered by insurance, some was not, and if you’d like to donate to help repair Colorado’s highest incorporated town, send money to the Alma Foundation, P.O. Box 1050, Alma CO 80420.

Alma’s claim to fame used to be that, at 10,355 feet, it was the highest incorporated town in the United States. Leadville, at 10,152, is the highest incorporated city — Colorado law requires at least 2,000 residents before a town can gain city status.

But when Alma made the national news in February, the story had nothing to do with elevation, alas.