An “unprovoked” shooting in downtown Durango early Thursday was largely fueled by excessive drinking, law enforcement said.
Durango police accused Anthony Pappas, 22, of trying to kill Skylar Bowers, 25, with a .40 caliber handgun around 2 a.m. on Main Avenue. The two didn’t know each other, according to an arrest affidavit filed in 6th Judicial District Court. Pappas had a blood-alcohol level of 0.235, or almost three times the legal driving limit of 0.08, about 1½ hours after the incident, police wrote in arrest documents.
Pappas of Durango appeared Friday afternoon in the La Plata County Combined Courts for a hearing to advise him of the pending charges against him and to set his bail. He was being held Friday night at the La Plata County Jail on a $100,000 cash bond.
Prosecutors suggested a $100,000 bail, noting the apparent unprovoked nature of the incident, the supposed flight risk of someone who hid from police and the damning statements Pappas made to law enforcement the night of his arrest, including “I planned to kill a person,” said Deputy District Attorney Reid Stewart.
Defense attorney David Greenberg told La Plata County Court Judge Dondi Osborne that $100,000 bail was “outrageous,” there was “no evidence before the court” to suggest a risk to public safety and suggested if bail is “unduly oppressive, it’s tantamount to no bail at all.” Greenberg said the court should release Pappas on his word that he’ll appear for scheduled court dates and a requirement that he won’t contact the alleged victim, consume alcohol or possess a firearm or ammunition. He also asked the judge to allow his client to go on a planned weekslong vacation out of state.
Defense and prosecuting attorneys recognized that before the incident, Pappas had never been arrested. His father, Charles Wallace, told Osborne his son recently graduated from Norwich University – also known as The Military School of Vermont – and planned to attend officer cadet school and join U.S. Army Special Forces. People recognized Pappas for his “good judgment” growing up, Wallace said.
Greenberg encouraged Osborne to “temper her judgment” of the statements Pappas made to law enforcement after his arrest. Comments reportedly included, “I walk around town every night with my handgun,” and “I just wanted to save the world.”
If convicted, Pappas could face anywhere from 10 to 32 years in prison, Osborne said.
“The statements are of great concern,” Osborne said. “Perhaps the statement was enhanced by alcohol, but the content is concerning.”
‘I didn’t even kill him’According to the arrest affidavit, Pappas approached Bowers sitting on a bench a couple of blocks from Denny’s restaurant – where Bowers had just been to get a to-go cup of water.
Bowers, who told law enforcement he hadn’t consumed any alcohol or drugs, said he didn’t know the man but could tell he was drunk.
The man asked for some water and the two chatted, Bowers told law enforcement. At some point, the man stood and pointed a gun at Bowers’ face, he told police. Bowers at first thought the weapon wasn’t real – believing it could have been a BB gun – but also didn’t like having a firearm pointed at him, he told law enforcement.
Bowers told the man not to point the gun at him, the man sat down and they resumed talking. But the man stood again and pointed the gun at Bowers’ face, Bowers told law enforcement. Bowers stood and told the man not to point the gun at him, but he kept doing it, according to arresting documents.
Bowers grabbed the man and wrestled with him, throwing him to the ground at one point and putting him in a headlock, police wrote.
“Bowers said he heard two gunshots and felt when a bullet hit him,” according to the arrest affidavit. “Bowers said the other man ran off and Bowers kind of walked and ran to the gas station, where he asked for help.”
Mercy Regional Medical Center staff told law enforcement Bowers suffered a gunshot wound to his back that “narrowly missed hitting his spinal cord,” according to arresting documents.
Bowers has since been released from the hospital.
Officers searched the area and found Pappas – who denied knowledge of the incident to another officer just minutes before – hiding behind a trash bin “acting very strange” and looking “confused,” according to the affidavit. Pappas told officers he had a gun in his pocket, but no weapons were recovered.
A Durango police officer took Pappas to a holding cell at the department and “could smell a strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage on his breath,” police wrote in arresting documents. Pappas kept talking while in custody, according to arresting documents, telling law enforcement, “... I shot a guy that was assaulting me. I didn’t even kill him.”