Joe Widhalm's effort to shovel the snow from his Broadmoor-area home ended up in a chilling confrontation with a masked gunman desperate for cash.
Before he could clear his sidewalk about 6 p.m. Sunday on Farthing Drive, Widhalm was kidnapped by a man who first forced him to bind his wife, Marguerite, with duct tape, then drive to an ATM to drain his bank accounts.
"I was shoveling my walk when a car drove up and stopped next door," Widhalm said Monday. "I wasn't paying much attention. A man got out and the car drove off."
The man soon had Widhalm's attention.
"He walked up to me and was wearing a mask and pointing a gun at me," said Widhalm, a retired Air Force colonel. "He starts trying to find out what I have on my person - cash and ATM cards. And he wanted to know about my ability to get money."
Widhalm described his attacker as "calm, cool and collected" and said he never raised his voice during the hourlong ordeal.
"He tried to be somewhat firm, making sure we weren't trying to lie to him," Widhalm said. "But he was trying to assure us nothing would happen as long as we did what he said."
Widhalm did not have his wallet, so he was forced to go inside his home with the gunman to get it.
"He was concerned about who was in the house," Widhalm said. "I had to assure him it was just my wife. No kids. No pets.
"I was trying to remain calm and not allow the situation to get out of control."
Still, he was worried about how his wife would react.
"She remained pretty calm," he said. "She realized it was serious."
The gunman ordered Widhalm to take his wife's ATM and driver's license and bind her with tape to prevent her from calling police before they left to find an ATM.
"He was in the back seat of the car and I drove," Widhalm said.
They went down to two area shopping centers along Highway 115 looking for drive-through ATMs. They found one on Cheyenne Meadows Road and proceeded to withdraw the maximum from Widhalm's account.
"He wanted to keep using the card and PIN number to access different accounts," Widhalm said.
"But the system locked up. It froze my accounts and wouldn't let any more money out."
When they were unable to get any more cash, the gunman ordered Widhalm to take him to a rendezvous point where he met his accomplice and drove off.
By the time Widhalm reached a gas station to call police, his wife had freed herself and alerted authorities to the kidnapping.
Though upset by the incident, Widhalm said it could have been worse.
"It was just a random act," he said. "If I hadn't been out there, they'd have driven up the street and targeted somebody else."
He said the couple escaped mostly unharmed, other than the problems the attack created with his bank accounts.
"Physically, we are just trying to recover," he said. "We didn't sleep very well last night."
While he does not intend to overreact to the incident, Widhalm said there is one change he intends to make.
"I don't think I'll be out there by myself shoveling in the dark anymore," he said.
Colorado Springs police have made no arrests.