Vail man faces up to 76 years for shooting his roommate
Mellow evening at home turned into an argument with shots fired; one bullet narrowly missed a bed where a neighbor was sleeping
A Vail man faces up to 76 years in prison after allegedly firing a handgun six times at his roommate through a closed bedroom door and hitting him twice in the legs early Wednesday morning.
The shooting happened at the Lion’s Ridge Apartments in Vail, reportedly after a mellow evening of partying at home with alcohol, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms turned into an argument between the two men.
Robert Owen Fergus-Jean, 37, made his first appearance in Eagle County Court on Thursday morning, appearing via video from county jail. He faces preliminary charges of attempted murder in the second degree and first-degree assault, both class 3 felonies; attempted manslaughter and illegal discharge of a firearm, both class 5 felonies; as well as misdemeanor charges for reckless endangerment and prohibited use of a weapon.
When Eagle County Court Judge Rachel J. Olguin-Fresquez asked Fergus-Jean if he understands the charges he faces and the possible consequences, Fergus-Jean replied, “Unfortunately I do.”
According to an affidavit filed by Vail Police, Fergus-Jean fired six shots from his .45 caliber handgun at his roommate, Stephen McIntyre Darley, also 37. The shots are believed to have been fired from a hallway through Darley’s closed bedroom door. Darley was hit twice, once in his left thigh and once near his right knee, and was taken to Vail Health Hospital for treatment for serious yet non-life threatening injuries.
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Police found six bullet holes in Darley’s bedroom door, with five visible bullet impacts to the bedroom wall, a bed and a nightstand. One bullet went through the wall into a neighboring apartment unit, entering above a bed where a neighbor was sleeping. That man was not injured.
Fergus-Jean and Darley provided differing accounts to police about how the argument started and what it was about, though neither of the men expressed hostility toward the other over the incident, according to the affidavit.
After voluntarily going to the Vail Police Department for questioning, Fergus-Jean said he and Darley had been hanging out and drinking since about 8:30 p.m. and that Darley at one point had pressured him into eating the psychedelic mushrooms, which he chewed up but later spit out without Darley knowing. Fergus-Jean said the two men began arguing after Fergus-Jean turned the music off so he could better hear something Darley was saying.
Fergus-Jean said Darley went into his bedroom and leaned over toward a nightstand, pulling out a .38 caliber revolver and pointing it at Fergus-Jean’s head, after Fergus-Jean had followed him to the room.
Fergus-Jean told police he was concerned because Darley had been drinking and was high on mushrooms. He said he then went to his own bedroom, got his handgun, and began to shoot at Darley as Darley’s bedroom door was closing. He said he shot six times and then ran out of the apartment, later returning and helping bandage Darley’s wounds.
“(Fergus-Jean) said he had not known what to do when he saw the gun, if he should have run outside, hid in his room, or jumped out a window. He said maybe he ‘shouldn’t have done it,’” the police affidavit states.
Darley told police that he did not get his gun out or brandish his gun at Fergus-Jean. He said he did open the nightstand drawer, which might have made Fergus-Jean feel threatened. When pressed by police on whether he took the gun out of the nightstand, Darley said he did not know, then said maybe, and then said that if he had, he did not point it at Fergus-Jean, according to the affidavit.
When police arrived at the Lion’s Ridge Apartments at about 1 a.m. Dec. 30, responding to a report of a disturbance, they saw the two men exiting the apartment together.
Prosecutors requested a $1 million bond for Fergus-Jean, describing his firing of six rounds through the bedroom door where Darley was as an attempt to kill, with two bullets hitting Darley and one bullet narrowly missing a man in a neighboring apartment unit, “just missing what could have been a murder of two people.”
Judge Olguin-Fresquez set bond at $25,000. Prosecutors have until Jan. 7 to file a formal criminal complaint against Fergus-Jean, who is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 11 for a formal advisement.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at email@example.com.