NEDERLAND, Colo. – A gunman who broke into a staff meeting at a Colorado ski resort ranting about religion asked the manager what he believed and shot him twice when the victim responded he was Catholic, according to reports published today about the tragedy.
The gunman later was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in a firefight alongside a snowy mountain road, authorities confirmed.
The Boulder County coroner identified the gunman as Derik A. Bonestroo, 24, who had been living in Nederland. According to a report in the Boulder Daily Camera, witnesses said Bonestroo burst into the staff meeting yesterday at the Eldora Mountain Resort near here.
Sheriff Joe Pelle said Bonestroo was yelling something about religion to employees when resort General Manager Brian Mahon heard the commotion and came into the room. The Camera said witnesses reported the shooter asked Mahon which religion he believed, and when Mahon said he was Catholic, the shooter fired twice and killed him.
Sheriff’s Commander Phil West said, “There are various interpretations about what was said. Witnesses told us (Bonestroo) had been through some emotional crisis.”
Mahon, 49, leaves behind a wife and two children. He had worked at Eldora since 1991.
According to a statement from Boulder County Undersheriff Tom Shomaker, deputy John Seifert was on duty in Nederland when the call came in about the shooting. Told the shooter had fled and given a description of the vehicle, Seifer spotted a suspect vehicle on the Peak-to-Peak Highway only a few miles downhill from the ski area. After a short pursuit, the suspect vehicle stopped, the sheriff said.
“The male driver immediately opened fire on the deputy after stopping his vehicle,” the sheriff’s department statement said.
“The deputy was able to exit his patrol vehicle and return fire. The suspect was hit at least once and died at the scene,” Shomaker reported.
West said Seifert suffered an injury from a flying piece of glass, and was treated and released.
Bonestroo had worked at the ski area, and, according to the Camera, just before the shooting had pounded on the door of a Nederland resident, demanding to know where some of her neighbors – who were not identified by authorities – had gone.
The newspaper reported Cynthia Davis, 35, met the suspect at her front door about an hour before the shooting. She said he was dressed all in black and was wearing what looked like a gun strapped to his thigh.
She reported he was agitated and wanted to know where her neighbors were. Those individuals, she said, recently had quit work at the ski area and moved out of the neighborhood.
Authorities described the deputy’s confrontation with the suspect as a “gun battle.”
Matthew Koehorst, a ski area worker, told the Camera Mahon 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.”
A multi-agency task force was appointed to investigate the shooting.