AVON, Colorado - Heroes run into harm's way to help others, and Dr. Gary Kitching was a hero.
On Wednesday, the third anniversary of Kitching's death at the hands of convicted murderer Richard "Rossi" Moreau, many of the emergency responders at the Sandbar on Nov. 7, 2009 gathered to honor Kitching.
"When faced with decisions about whether to be brave and courageous or cowardly, most of us hope we'd choose bravery," said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. "Gary Kitching made the choice to act with bravery."
Gary and Lani Kitching were headed home to Carbondale, but stopped at the Sandbar to watch the USC football game, Gary's alma mater. When Moreau's behavior became unbearable, Kitching went outside to find the game on their satellite radio so they could listen as they drove home. He ran back inside when the shooting started.
"He came back inside to see if his wife was alive. When he came around that corner he was faced with the cowardice of Rossi Moreau. It is fitting and right that we honor him this day," Hurlbert said.
When Moreau began shooting it was loud, chaotic and Lani Kitching took cover behind a couch. She didn't know what had happened until several minutes after it was over, she said.
"I didn't see anything. I had my head down. I only heard the gunshots," she said after Wednesday's ceremony. "I thought he was outside. I didn't know he'd been shot until I was escorted out."
Moreau was convicted of murder and will spend his life in prison. That's as it should be, said Kitching's daughter, Allison Kitching, who drove all the way from Utah for Wednesday's ceremony.
"My dad was a fair man and he'd want him to be punished", Allison said. "I appreciate that they honored my dad."
Moreau was filmed on the Sandbar's security video system killing Kitching and wounding others. When the local SWAT team stormed the bar and captured him, he asked that they kill him.
Moreau blamed his rampage on Vietnam trauma. Ironically, Kitching served as a doctor in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam.
Love and bravery
A few months after Moreau's murderous rampage through the Sandbar, first responders were honored for their quick response and bravery.
At that ceremony, Avon Police Lt. Greg Daly told a crowded room that Kitching was the real hero that day.
Moreau was filmed on the Sandbar's security video system stalking through the bar brandishing a 1911 Springfield .45, caliber handgun, modified to hold 13 rounds.
While everyone else was running outside, trying to get away from Moreau and the death he was distributing, Kitching ran back inside to find his wife, Lani.
Moreau shot Gary Kitching three times, once in the hip and twice more after Kitching was on the floor only a few feet away. He died less than 10 feet from his wife.
"Nov. 7, 2009 was traumatic and tragic for the family. Many of the team members are former military and it was one of the most intense incidents we've ever been involved with," Daly said.
The SWAT team assembled outside the Sandbar. It took several minutes before they could storm the bar and take Moreau alive.
"We went in because we were trained to do it, because it was our duty to do it."
"He went in because of his bravery and the love of his wife," Daly told Lani. "He died a brave and heroic death out of his love for you."
Wednesday's ceremony was in the Avon library, a fitting site, Lani said.
"There couldn't have been a more perfect place to hold this than a library. He loved libraries and he loved to read."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.