Cops get silent treatment after shooting
BASALT Basalt investigators questioned a man Wednesday who acknowledged a verbal altercation with a clerk at the 7-Eleven but denied shooting at the store Tuesday night.Police identified one of the two men in the altercation from images from a surveillance camera. The two Latino men are also “persons of interest” in the shooting.Police on Wednesday questioned the man identified, who lives in Basalt, but didn’t take him into custody.”He was not very forthcoming,” Police Chief Keith Ikeda said Thursday. “It’s making it very difficult to proceed forward with this case.”The man claimed he doesn’t know anything about the shooting, according to Ikeda. He also declined to identify the second man or lead police to a car thought to be connected to the case.After the verbal altercation, the men departed in a car fitting the description of a vehicle seen in the area at the time of the shooting, Ikeda said. The verbal altercation and the shooting were about 90 minutes apart.
Five bullets penetrated a large, plate-glass window in the front of the 7-Eleven about 11:10 p.m. Tuesday. No one was hurt, although the clerk and four patrons were lucky to escape injury or death, Ikeda said.Witnesses reported hearing the shots then tires “squealing” as a car sped from Two Rivers Road in front of the store, according to Ikeda. Authorities don’t know if the shots were fired from inside the car, so they’re not calling the case a drive-by shooting, Ikeda said. Law enforcement officials throughout the valley are on the lookout for a silver or gray Honda Civic or Accord sedan.Police have several leads to follow despite the lack of cooperation from the man they have identified: “You just keep on plugging away and finding information you can on these guys,” Ikeda said.Even with the shooters at large, Bruno Kirchenwitz continues wearing his “U.S. Border Patrol” baseball hat that possibly made him the target of Tuesday’s gunfire.Kirchenwitz, 55, is a part-time clerk at 7-Eleven. He said the two Latino men came into the store and asked if he was the guy who wears the Border Patrol hat. He acknowledged he is, although he wasn’t wearing it at the time.Kirchenwitz claimed the men threatened him and said they would wait for him outside the store. They left a short time later.
The verbal altercation occurred about 9:30 p.m.Kirchenwitz ended his shift around 10 p.m. and left the store to catch a bus about 15 minutes later.Another clerk was on duty when the shots were fired at 11:10 p.m.Kirchenwitz said that after the incident, law enforcement officials rousted him out of the tent where he is temporarily living and brought him back to the 7-Eleven for a statement.He said he wasn’t scared when he saw the five bullet holes in the store’s window. He said he won’t be intimidated from wearing the U.S. Border Patrol hat.”I’m wearing it now, I’ll wear it tomorrow,” he said Thursday.Kirchenwitz lived in the Roaring Fork Valley from 1980 until 1994. He returned in February. He and his wife are homeless after getting evicted from a mobile home, he said.
Kirchenwitz said that the “fabric of the valley” was frayed from the actions of “greedy developers” and the influx of illegal immigrants while he was away.When asked if he wears the hat to provoke confrontations, Kirchenwitz insisted he is a “nice guy” who doesn’t seek confrontation. The hat is merely a philosophical statement in the illegal immigration debate, he said. “I’ve got an attitude about this immigration thing.”Kirchenwitz said he believes people who come into the U.S. are exploited for cheap labor by American businesses. He also claimed that illegal workers take jobs from citizens.He said he doesn’t know why anyone would be offended by the hat since the Border Patrol is simply a law enforcement agency.He said he also tries to keep a sense of humor in the immigration debate by wearing a T-shirt that says, “Jesus is my gardener.”Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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