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Colo. Police Officer Improving

October 3, 2001

DENVER (AP) _ A police officer allegedly shot by twin brothers who are also suspected of slaying a deputy had improved Tuesday and was communicating with his wife via handwritten notes.

``He’s told me he’s too strong to die and I told him, `I know you are, baby,‴ a tearful Misty Bethel said during a news conference at St. Anthony Central Hospital.

Cpl. Toby Bethel remained in critical condition but had stabilized since he was admitted Friday, hospital spokeswoman Beverly Johnson said.

``He’s a weightlifter, athlete, and he will pull through this,″ Dr. Edward Pulido said.

Bethel was shot in the back twice as he investigated the slaying of Fremont County sheriff’s Deputy Jason Schwartz.

Michael and Joel Stovall, 24, were being held without bond. They could face charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, authorities said.

Schwartz, 26, had gone to the Stovalls’ home after reports that Joel Stovall had shot a dog, Sheriff Ivan Middlemiss said. Both brothers were arrested after a disturbance.

Schwartz was shot several times in the back of the head as he was driving the brothers to jail. Authorities have determined he was not killed with his own weapon.

The brothers then stole a pickup truck at gunpoint and allegedly shot Bethel as his patrol car passed by, authorities said.

The Stovalls surrendered to police Saturday after an all-day pursuit.

Authorities were investigating whether somebody placed a handcuff key and gun in the back seat of Schwartz’s cruiser.

``At this particular point in time, we don’t have any indication of that,″ said Pete Mang, deputy director of the Colorado of Bureau Investigations.

At the brothers’ home, investigators found several guns, several knives and what they believe to be ingredients for a bomb, Middlemiss said. He said when the twins turned themselves in they had several automatic weapons.

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