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Dec. 11, 2019

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Smith Tower shooting suspect pleads not guilty, will remain in jail

Defense attorney says he’s ‘perfectly happy’ where he is

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published: October 8, 2019, 5:13pm

An 80-year-old man accused of opening fire in Smith Tower, killing a fellow resident and wounding another resident and her caregiver, entered not-guilty pleas Tuesday to murder and attempted murder.

Robert “Bob” Breck was in Clark County Superior Court on Tuesday to address his bail. However, Breck waived the bail hearing and will remain in the Clark County Jail on a no-bail hold.

Breck’s defense attorney, Renee Alsept, said her client doesn’t want to post bail. “He’s perfectly happy where he’s at now,” she said.

Because Breck was already in court, the parties opted to proceed to arraignment. Prosecutors have charged him with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for May 11.

Breck was arrested late Thursday afternoon following a nearly 2 1/2 -hour standoff with a brigade of law enforcement at the senior living apartment tower in downtown Vancouver.

He 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.

The Clark County medical examiner determined Tunstall died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest from a revolver. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

Court records also state that in the weeks before the shooting, Breck apparently asked his caregiver to be his mistress. She said no, and he subsequently fired her. However, she continued to care for his neighbor, the affidavit says. It’s unclear from court records how Breck’s connection to the caregiver and the men’s reported feud are related.

Police identified the injured resident and caregiver as Enelia Montoya, 73, and Shawne L. Garris, 44, respectively. A spokesman at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center said Garris has since been treated and released. Montoya was treated and transferred to another facility with specialty care. She was in satisfactory condition at that time.

Breck 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. The witness, who did not want to be named, said he then heard “boom-boom.” He fled and called police from a business next door.

Multiple law enforcement agencies responded 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. He was located in his 13th-floor apartment on the south side of Smith Tower.

A crisis negotiation team started communicating with him by 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 Breck to the 13th floor, where a drone hovered outside his window. At about 4:35 p.m., police led him, without further incident, out of the building to a patrol vehicle.

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