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November 10, 2009
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Vail's Sandbar to reopen Wednesday

VAIL, Colorado - The Sandbar in West Vail will reopen Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The yellow police tape is gone. The only reminder of the shooting that took place at the West Vail bar Saturday night is a dark blue line that marks a trail of blood one of the victim's left behind Saturday night.

Owner Eric Leitstein said he let Sandbar employees make the decision on when to reopen.

"There's no protocol on what is the right thing to do," Leitstein said on Tuesday. "It's tough - I want to give the employees a sense of closure, but they need to make money, they need to get back to work. In fact, there's a good handful of them here today getting everything ready to go."

Josh Carbo, Sandbar's bar manager, had just left when the shooting started Saturday night. He said the employees are ready to move on.

"Everyone just wants to get back to what we normally do - just life, work, whatever," Carbo said.

Leitstein, who lives in California, happened to be in Boulder Saturday night celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife when he got the phone call.

"My employees contacted me as it was happening," Leitstein said. "Once Jason (Barber, Sandbar's manager) was shot, they called 911 and then immediately called me."

Leitstein said his staff handled the tragic event "as well as could be expected." He visited Barber in the hospital on Monday night, he said. Leitstein said he and Barber haven't discussed when or if Barber will return to work.

Leitstein said Barber was shot in the arm.

"Everybody was very upset when they heard," Leitstein said. "He has a lot of relationships here. He's been in the valley for a while. Everybody was very concerned. He's getting a lot of visits in the hospital."

Barber, of Vail, has been the general manager at the Sandbar since April 2004, Leitstein said. Barber oversees booking bands, scheduling and ordering supplies - all the daily operations of the bar and restaurant, Leitstein said.

When Leitstein heard the Barber had been shot, he was concerned.

"My first response was: Is he OK?'" Leitstein said. "Somebody's shot - it's like: Where is he and is he OK? I was in shock a little bit. I wouldn't say shock but how do you describe how you feel? You just want to make sure he's alive, is he getting medical attention?"

As for the other employees who were working Saturday night, Leitstein said "they don't have to come back until they're ready."

Leitstein was able to assist the police using a camera system installed at the Sandbar, he said.

"(The police) wanted to know who was in there," he said. "I could look on the camera and see. The camera system was very helpful for them because now they have a recording of what happened."

Many longtime business owners have called the Sandbar offering condolences and to help in whatever way they can, including donations for any future fundraisers that may take place for the victims.

Leitstein said he's tried to contact the victims, including the wife of Dr. Gary Kitching, the Carbondale resident who died Saturday night, but hasn't had any luck. In the case of the 63-year-old man still in a Denver hospital, no one but family is allowed contact.

"We'll more than likely do something for him," Leitstein said. "And we want to memorialize the person that passed away for no reason, Gary Kitching, but only with his wife's permission. We're not going to do something for the sake of doing it. There has to be a reason. We're just trying to figure it out."

The Sandbar's entertainment schedule will remain unchanged with the band Evol Intent set to perform Thursday night as planned.

"The show must go on," said Crawford Byers, a local concert promoter who booked Thursday's show. "We thought it was important to maintain the schedule and give it a sense of normalcy, even though that's hard to come by right now."

As for Leitstein, he's thankful for the people who have called the Sandbar offering kind words.

"We have a lot of support from the community, people saying that as soon as we open, they're going to come in and patronize the place," he said.

Vail Daily reporter Sarah Mausolf contributed to this story. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Nov 10, 2009 08:48PM Published Nov 10, 2009 08:08PM Copyright 2009 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.