Employee kills Eldora general manager; gunman then shot by deputy
December 30, 2008
NEDERLAND, Colo. A black-clad worker at the Eldora ski area asked other employees about their religious beliefs before shooting a manager to death early Tuesday morning, then died a short time later several miles away in a gun battle with a Boulder County sheriff’s deputy.Eldora identified the victim as Brian Mahon and said he was the general manager of the resort west of Nederland.The Boulder County Coroners Office has identified the gunman as Derick A. Bonestroo, 24, of Nederland.The gunman had been in town only a short time, several Eldora workers said.”I was scared for my life as scared as I’ve ever been,” said Fabio Sales, who was in the pump house near the Eldora base when the gunfire erupted around 7 a.m.Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the gunman drove away from the ski area, and witnesses there called 911 with a description of him and his car.A veteran deputy on patrol in the area sped toward the resort and met the man, who was driving in the other direction. The deputy turned around and pursued him on Colorado 119, known as the Peak to Peak Highway, south of town, where the man stopped on a long, sweeping curve.At that point, Pelle said, Bonestroo opened fire on the deputy, who shot back, killing the suspect. The Daily Camera in Boulder identified the deputy as John Seifert.Bullet holes pierced the grille, hood and windshield of the deputy’s Tahoe, and a cluster of gunshots pocked the side and front windows on the gunman’s gold Infiniti sedan.The trouble apparently started shortly before 7 a.m. in Nederland.Cynthia Davis, 35, awakened to a pounding on her front door about 6:50 a.m. When she opened the door, Davis was met by a tall, slender man in his early 20s with a pistol strapped to his right thigh. He was dressed entirely in black.The man wanted to know where Davis’ neighbors who recently moved away were. Davis said the man appeared “very agitated and angry” when she told him she didn’t know. Her former neighbors worked at the ski area before moving out of town, recently.Davis said she did not immediately call the police.”I kept telling myself that it had to be a walkie-talkie or something, because it didn’t make sense why he would have a weapon,” said Davis, adding she kept staring at the gun as she talked to the man.”I thought he was a cop,” she said.A short time later, Bonestroo entered a room in the Eldora pump house where about 20 employees were preparing for the day. He asked people their religious beliefs, then opened fire.Matthew Koehorst, a 21-year-old Eldora employee, said the manager who died was “just unlucky a complete fluke.””It could’ve been me next,” he said. “I was next in line. … That was the most terrifying experience of my life; I’m not gonna go through that again.”Erika Peterson, a clerk at a coffee shop who used to work for the manager at Eldora, described him as “a great guy to work for.””He was never rude to me,” Peterson said. “Just a nice guy.”And Susan Sanford, the manager at the First Street Pub & Grill in Nederland, said she worked with the manager in 2003. She called him a “very reputable man.””He was always about the mountain,” Sanford said, adding the victim had a wife and children.The violent outburst closed the ski area and a section of Colorado 119 south of Nederland.Pelle brought in the bomb squad to examine the dead man’s vehicle as a precaution but said that he had no indication that there were any explosives in it.”I think the entire community at this point is shocked by a pretty violent series of events on a beautiful holiday week,” Pelle said.The deputy involved in the shooting is a member of the department’s SWAT team, Pelle said. Pelle said the deputy has “been with us a long time … and has prior law enforcement experience before that. He’s a long-term, very solid member of our department.”Pelle also said that it was too early to know what touched off the violence.”We know the ‘what,’ ” he said. “We don’t know the ‘why.’ “
The Daily Camera and Associated Press contributed to this report.