Deadly shootings close Eldora ski resort
December 30, 2008
NEDERLAND, Colo. ” An employee at Eldora Mountain Resort shouted something about religion before he shot and killed a fellow worker Tuesday morning, authorities said.
The gunman was killed a short time later during a gun battle with a Boulder County sheriff’s deputy.
The violent outburst closed the ski area and a section of Colorado 119, known as the Peak To Peak Highway, south of Nederland.
Authorities had not released the names of any of those involved late in morning, pending further investigation and the notification of their families.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle brought in the bomb squad to examine the dead man’s vehicle as a precaution, but he 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.
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Pelle said the trouble started about 7 a.m. in a maintenance shed near the base at Eldora Mountain Resort, southwest of Nederland. One employee armed with a pistol shot and killed another in a confrontation that was witnessed by numerous workers, authorities said.
In a statement, Boulder Undersheriff Tom Shomaker said the suspect walked into the resort’s “pump house” where other employees were dressing and yelled something about religion.
“Another employee entered the room and asked what was going on and was shot by the suspect,” Shomaker said.
Moments later, an employee called 911 to report the incident ” including the identity of the shooter and a description of his car, Pelle said.
A witness to the shooting, Eldora employee Matthew Koehorst, 21, said the victim “was just unlucky; a complete fluke. … That was the most terrifying experience of my life. I’m not gonna go through that again.”
A sheriff’s deputy – who Pelle described as a “veteran” ” was on duty in Nederland and sped toward the resort in his white Tahoe. The deputy saw the car go past him in the other direction, turned around and pursued the man, who was driving an Infiniti sedan.
Roughly a mile south of Nederland on Colorado 119, the man pulled over, Pelle said, and opened fire on the deputy, hitting the front of his vehicle a number of times. The deputy, who suffered minor facial injuries from flying glass and shrapnel, shot back, killing the man.
Bullet holes pocked the front end, hood and windshield of the deputy’s Tahoe. Numerous bullet holes could be seen in the windshield of the dead man’s gold Infiniti as it sat along the side of the scenic Peak to Peak highway.
The deputy involved in the shooting is a member of the department’s SWAT team, Pelle said. The Daily Camera in Boulder quoted the deputy’s girlfriend as saying a bullet struck Deputy John Seifert’s patrol car, but did not strike him. However, she said, a shard of glass hit Seifert in the eye.
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 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.'”
Peter Rousseau, a skier from North Boulder who arrived at the Eldora Mountain Resort around 7:15 this morning, said he saw two strange events on his way to the mountain. As he drove from Nederland to Eldora, he saw a gray sedan driving at excessive speeds down the mountain.
Then, about 10 minutes later, as Rousseau unloaded his ski gear in the resort parking lot, he said ski patrol vehicles blocked the exits to the lot. Then, Rousseau said, a tan sedan with tinted windows evaded authorities and plowed through a snow bank to speed back down Eldora Road away from the resort.
“The guy was flying,” Rousseau said. “I didn’t know what was going on at the time.”
Rousseau said he saw ski patrol medics respond to the resort’s pump house with IV bags. Resort officials then closed the lodge and ordered employees and early-arriving skiers and snowboarders to gather in the resort’s bar.