A shooting at Smith Tower Apartments that left one resident dead and another resident and her caretaker injured apparently started after the alleged shooter asked the caretaker to be his mistress and she said no, court records show.
However, Robert “Bob” Breck, 80, told investigators he had an ongoing feud with the man he killed, identified by police as 75-year-old Dean Leon Tunstall, according to an affidavit of probable cause. It’s unclear from court records how Breck’s connection to the caretaker and the men’s reported feud are related.
Breck appeared Friday morning in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Judge Daniel Stahnke set no bail in the case after a prosecutor argued Breck is a substantial threat to the community.
Breck was arrested late Thursday afternoon following a nearly 2 ½-hour standoff with a brigade of law enforcement at the senior living apartment tower in downtown Vancouver.
Police identified the two women injured in the shooting as Enelia Montoya, 73, also a resident of the building, and her caretaker, Shawne L. Garris, 44, court records show. A spokesman at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center said Friday morning that one of the women was treated and released, while the other was treated and transferred to another hospital with specialty care.
“Our trauma team saved their lives, and one of them is now at another facility,” PeaceHealth spokesman Randy Querin said.
Breck, who is also a Smith Tower resident, fired shots in the building’s lobby shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, according to the Vancouver Police Department.
A 77-year-old resident who entered the building through a side door shortly after Breck told The Columbian he saw Breck standing with a handgun in the lobby and heard “boom-boom.” The witness said he fled and called police from a business next door.
Numerous law enforcement agencies were summoned at 2:09 p.m. for an “active shooter” call at 515 Washington St. There, they found three victims in the lobby suffering from gunshot wounds.
Teams of officers, holding the victims’ arms and legs, carried them out the front door. Tunstall was pronounced dead at the scene. The injured victims were tended to in the building’s parking lot until paramedics arrived and transported them to the hospital.
Witnesses and the surviving victims identified Breck as the shooter. The witnesses were ushered from the building by law enforcement and taken to City Hall to be interviewed.
Breck was holed up in his apartment on the building’s 13th floor on the south side when officers arrived.
A crisis negotiation team started communicating with him via phone before 3 p.m. SWAT officers evacuated the residents who were able to navigate the stairs and told the rest to shelter in place. The elevators inside the 15-story tower were shut off as police worked to contain the gunman to the 13th floor, where a drone hovered outside his window.
At about 4:35 p.m., police led Breck out of the building. He was wearing a gray T-shirt, plaid pajama pants and a baseball cap.
Law enforcement did not fire their weapons during the incident, Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle thanked emergency responders on Friday, stating their swift response ensured the safety of the public in the surrounding area and the Smith Tower residents who were still in the building.
“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of one of our residents and extend our condolences to the victims, their families and friends, and the residents at Smith Tower who experienced this tragedy,” McEnerny-Ogle said.
Police had not released a motive for the shooting Thursday, but court records shed some light on what transpired beforehand.
Two Vancouver police detectives went to the hospital to talk to Montoya and Garris.
Montoya told a detective that she, Garris and Tunstall were talking in the lobby when Breck exited the elevator and approached them. Breck confronted Tunstall about knowing Garris and then shot him in the chest; Tunstall fell to the floor, according to the affidavit.
When Montoya got up from her chair, Breck shot her, and she fell to the floor. She did not realize she had been shot twice. She said she heard another shot and believed Breck shot Garris, the affidavit says.
Garris said she got up from her chair to flee when Breck shot her in the back. She fell to the floor. She heard Breck fire at least one other round, but she didn’t see whom he was shooting at, according to court records.
All three of them were lying on the floor, Montoya said, when she saw Breck run away to the elevator, the affidavit says. Garris said she covered her head until Breck left, and then she called 911.
Montoya said she was scared and thought she was going to die. She didn’t remember seeing the gun but said Breck was about 2 to 3 feet away from Tunstall. She said she heard a total of four gunshots, the court document states.
Video surveillance in the lobby captured the entire incident and corroborated what the victims told detectives, according to the affidavit.
Garris was Breck’s caregiver for about a year until a few weeks ago, when he offered to pay her to be his mistress, she said. She declined, and he fired her about a week later, court records say.
However, Garris continued to care for Montoya, who is Breck’s neighbor.
Both women said Breck began spreading rumors about Garris and Tunstall to other men in the building, the affidavit says The court document does not state the nature of the rumors. Prior to the shooting, Garris said she learned Breck told Tunstall that Garris was going into his room without his knowledge. Tunstall told Breck he didn’t know Garris, according to the court document.
Montoya confronted Breck on Wednesday, she said, and asked him to stop spreading rumors. She also approached Tunstall and warned him to be careful, because she heard Breck was carrying a gun. Montoya said she had never seen Breck carry a gun, but Garris told her she saw his firearm, the affidavit states.
Once in custody, Breck agreed to a recorded interview and was advised of his right to remain silent. He stated he wanted a lawyer. However, without prompting, he continued to say, “The reason I shot that guy,” and then summarized his ongoing feud with Tunstall. That summary was not included in court records. Breck said he “couldn’t take it anymore,” according to the affidavit.
He will be arraigned Thursday.