Celeste Faumui was having a drink with friends at 8th Ave. Tavern on Jan. 29, a night much like any other, when gunshots started firing.
“It just came out of nowhere,” she said. “People just started yelling ‘get down’ and trying to get inside the building through the door.”
After hearing the first shot, Faumui dropped to the ground for cover, but was struck by the second bullet. She then lost consciousness.
“The next thing I remember is being loaded into an ambulance,” she said.
Faumui, 41, who has lived in Durango for about 20 years, was one of seven people hanging out on the outdoor patio of 8th Ave. Tavern, at 509 East Eighth Ave., when a gunman opened fire around 11 p.m.
The gunman, according to police records, shot six to seven times from an alley behind CJ’s Diner, which is across the street and east of the bar, toward the outdoor section of the bar, striking Faumui and a 29-year-old man.
The man, who was shot through the leg, did not respond to a request for comment.
Both Faumui and the man were taken to Mercy Regional Medical Center, where they were treated and released the next day.
But that doesn’t mean the suffering, or healing process, is over for Faumui.
Faumui lives across the street from 8th Ave. Tavern, so she’s a regular there a few nights of the week. She was at the bar for only 30 minutes or so with her boyfriend before the shooting.
“I’ve never felt unsafe in this town,” she said. “It was definitely eye-opening for sure.”
The bullet went through Faumui’s right shoulder, about a half-inch from her spine. She still has no movement in her right shoulder or right arm, and will likely have to go through months of physical therapy.
And because the shot passed so close to the spine, she must see a spine specialist, she said. It’s also possible she will need surgery.
Aside from the obvious physical trauma, unexpected medical costs are likely to pile up. Faumui is a single mother with two children. She works as a teacher in Bayfield, and also at Steamworks Brewing Co. and Olde Tymers Cafe.
Because of her injuries, she has not been able to return to work.
“You wouldn’t think someone could walk by, shoot you and then you’d have all these bills,” she said. “Right now, I’m depending on friends and the community to help me.”
A GoFundMe account has been started to help Faumui with medical costs, which can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3kwBSnL.
Victims of crime in Colorado eventually have access to what is known as a victim’s compensation fund, which helps them pay for expenses incurred from a crime but not covered by insurance or other sources.
But victims must go through an application process, which is ultimately approved or denied by a three-member board, so it’s unknown when Faumui may receive financial help.
The program is funded in part by federal assistance, and also fees from violations like speeding tickets and convictions. The program usually sends out $75,000 to $100,000 a year to victims in La Plata County.
Nancy Lewis, executive director of Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, said the victim compensation fund is an important resource for victims to recover costs, especially for medical expenses.
And where the victim compensation fund ends, COVA steps in.
“COVA has funds to help people with non-victim compensation eligible things,” she said. “It’s a big list.”
Lewis said expenses such as rent, necessities like food and diapers, as well as day care can be covered. Victims must also apply and go through a victim’s advocate to help assess a person’s needs.
Faumui said she is going through the victim advocate program in Durango, but she is still learning the process. Since the shooting happened about a month ago, she has been focusing on her health.
“Just last week, finally, I’ve been able to process some things,” she said.
Part of Faumui’s healing is going to be coming to terms with the events that unfolded that night, which will likely include therapy. After two decades in Durango, she never had safety concerns for herself or her children.
“That’s the whole reason I live in Durango,” she said. “It’s always been a small town.”
Durango Police Department Cmdr. Rita Warfield could recall only one or two times in her history with the force when someone shot at people at random, most recently, an unprovoked shooting on Main Avenue in June 2019.
“As a rule, we don’t have these,” Warfield said.
Authorities are still at a loss as to why the suspect, Michael Victor Quirova, 27, opened fire that night.
Investigators said he wasn’t at the bar and didn’t get into a fight with anyone at the bar. Nor does it appear he argued with anyone outside the bar, including the patio area. It appears a random act.
“As far as we can tell, the suspect was just in the area and had been hanging around nearby the tavern just before he decided to fire shots at the bar,” Cmdr. Jacob Dunlop said at the time. “Nothing was instigated inside.”
The only statement he gave to authorities on the way to the jail, according to the arrest affidavit, was, “Why did this take so long?”
Authorities say Quirova is from the Front Range, but was living in Durango.
Recently, he had been released from Hilltop House community corrections center, which provides transitional housing to parolees and criminal offenders who are required to work and earn income while living in the community.
Quirova wore an ankle bracelet because he was still on parole at the time of the shooting.
Quirova has a criminal record dating to 2008, police records show, which includes convictions for burglary, possession of a controlled substance, vehicular eluding and escape.
According to a report in The Colorado Springs Gazette, Quirova in 2013 had a long standoff with police, in which he allegedly held a female hostage against her will inside an apartment.
A SWAT team forced entry and took Quirova into custody. According to state records, he was sentenced to prison and was eligible for parole in March 2020, though the rest of his timeline remains unclear.
Annie Skinner, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, did not return a call or email seeking comment.
Quirova is in custody at the La Plata County Jail on $500,000 bail set Feb. 2 by Judge William Herringer. He was cited with seven counts of attempted murder, because seven people were on the outdoor patio.
Durango Fire Protection District Chief Hal Doughty also said random shootings are an uncommon occurrence in town, but emergency crews constantly train for all situations – gunshots, stabbings, car crashes.
“It’s a really big part of what we do,” he said.
Doughty wasn’t at the scene the night of the shooting, but he said emergency crews are in constant communication with law enforcement to know when it is safe to enter a scene and start treating victims.
“We have to take precautions, make sure we’re not going to be the next gunshot victim,” he said.
Though the victims were released the next day from Mercy, Doughty said victims of gunshots have to deal with both the physical and mental trauma long after hospital treatment.
“It’s a significant trauma event,” he said. “There are people who struggle greatly with that for years to come. It’s a life-changing event for the victim.”
Faumui said she’s likely going to receive therapy, but for now, she has received the support of family, friends and the community. She hasn’t been back to her neighborhood bar quite yet, but she will, some day.
“It’ll take me some time to be able to do that,” she said. “But I’ve gotten a lot of love from people in the community.”