1 dead, 3 injured in Vail bar shooting
November 8, 2009
VAIL, Colorado – A man was killed and three others were injured in a shooting Saturday night at the Sandbar in West Vail, Police Chief Dwight Henninger said.
Witnesses said a man was being removed from the Sandbar by staff when he began firing a gun. Richard “Rossi” Moreau, 63, a Vail resident, was taken into custody as the suspect in the shooting, Henninger said.
The man who died was from Carbondale, and the ages of the three other victims, all male, were 25, 29 and 63, police said. None of their names was released, and it was not clear whether the victims were patrons or employees. Two victims were being operated on at Vail Valley Medical Center on Saturday night, Henninger said. The third victim was released from the hospital, Henninger said.
Police received a report of shots fired at 7:28 p.m, and, when they arrived two minutes later, they found injured victims in the parking lot, Henninger said. Moreau was taken into custody inside the Sandbar, where the dead man was also found. Moreau was transported to the Vail Municipal Building jail, Henninger said.
The motive for the shooting was not known, and it was unclear whether the suspect knew the victims, the police chief said.
There were about a dozen customers in the bar when a man started acting “irate” and was bothering customers, said Steve Corr of Gypsum, a patron at the bar/restaurant, which is in a strip mall in the West Vail commercial area. Employees were escorting the man out of the bar, and it seemed the situation was going to be resolved, but the man pulled out of gun just as he was out of the bar’s door, Corr said.
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“I saw a gun, and he fired it off,” Corr said. “It looked like he hit at least one. Everybody scattered, pretty much.”
Corr said he heard two to three shots initially. Then, the gunman went back into the bar, and four to five more shots were heard, Corr said.
Nancy Lewis of Vail said she and her husband were sitting beside the door where a man who was speaking incoherently was being removed by three or four other men.
“He stepped back and pulled the gun out,” Lewis said. “The first shot hit the manager in the arm. Shots continued to ring out. … We ran out the back, but other people were stuck inside.”
Lewis’ husband, Richard, said the gun appeared to be an automatic pistol.
Nancy Lewis said she would never have expected a shooting like this to happen in Vail, which she considers a very safe place.
“Shocked,” she said. “Shocking to have something like this happen in Vail, in the valley. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”
Vail Police said they don’t know the last time a shooting occurred in Vail.
“This is a real shocker to me,” Henninger said.
Clifton Kelley of Fort Worth, Texas, and his brother, Brad Kelley, who were traveling through the area and staying in Vail for the night, were in the back of the bar, but did not see the shooting. They heard the commotion, and then a loud noise.
“I thought he threw a chair at the window,” Brad Kelley said.
They soon realized it was gunfire.
“Everybody took off out the back or front,” Clifton Kelley said.
On the street behind the Sandbar, they stood with a man who had been shot in the forearm, they said. Clifton Kelley said he offered his belt as a tourniquet.
“I just wrapped the belt around his bicep and pulled it as tight as I could and held it till the ambulance got there. I just finally got the blood off my hands,” he said as he sat with other witnesses in a McDonald’s next door to the Sandbar.
The Kelley brothers said they heard about six shots, a pause, and then about six more shots. The time between the shots ranged from seconds to minutes, Clifton Kelley said.
Kevin Heinz, a local musician, was setting up equipment to play in the bar that night. People hid under tables as the shooting broke out, he said. Heinz said he hid behind speakers as several more gunshots were heard. After about five minutes of hiding – “it felt longer than that” – police arrived, shining spotlights in the bar, the said.
Henninger said police have had “a number” of contacts with Moreau over recent years, but added he did not know the nature of those encounters.
Moreau is a longtime Vail local. In a 2006 interview in the Vail Daily, he said he has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since 1979 after serving two tours of duty in Vietnam in the late ’60s. He said he is a New Hampshire native, moved to Vail in 1970 and skis more than 150 days a year.
The shooting remains under investigation. Any witnesses are asked to call Vail police at 479-2201.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.