Officers seek suspects in Basalt shooting
BASALT ” Basalt police worked with law officers from Pitkin and Eagle counties and Snowmass Village Wednesday to try to find two “persons of interest” in a shooting incident at the Basalt 7-Eleven Tuesday night.
No arrests had been made as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to Basalt Sgt. Joe Chavira, but officers will still working numerous leads.
Five shots were fired into the 7-Eleven from a rifle at about 11:10 p.m. Tuesday. No one was hit but Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda said the clerk and the four or so patrons in the store at the time easily could have been killed or serious injured.
The two men being sought for questioning had a verbal confrontation with a clerk at 7-Eleven at about 9:30 p.m., Ikeda said. The men left the store, hung around outside for a short time, then departed.
The clerk the men argued with was off duty and had gone home by the time of the shooting. That clerk, Bruno Kirchenwitz, helped police by looking at a photo lineup and identifying one of the men being sought, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Police had images of the two men to work with from video surveillance cameras at the store, Ikeda said.
Kirchenwitz said the two Latino males were angry about a hat he often wears to work. The baseball cap reads, “U.S. Border Patrol.” He said he didn’t have the hat on at the time they approached him and he doesn’t wear it while working at 7-Eleven.
He acknowledged that he possesses the hat and claimed the two men threatened him. Kirchenwitz suspects those men returned later and opened fire on the store.
Ikeda said police are investigating whether the cap and the immigration issues connected to it spurred the confrontation. He stopped short of calling the incident racially charged.
“All we know is he got in a verbal dispute with two Latino males and we believe that this may be connected to the shooting,” Ikeda said.
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The skier, who was on vacation with his family, was found unresponsive at the base of a tree and “was pronounced deceased at the Sunlight ski patrol first-aid room.”