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Shooting incident at Crested Butte bar deemed accidental

Shooter charged with two felonies

Not much good can come when guns and alcohol mix, and that maxim proved true early Tuesday morning when a Crested Butte man was shot and injured in a local bar. The incident resulted in 21-year-old Michael Fritz of Crested Butte being arrested and Josh Stewart of Crested Butte being hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the pelvis.



The incident took place at Kochevar’s early Tuesday, November  20 at about 1 a.m. According to a Probable Cause Affidavit filed from the Crested Butte Marshal’s Office, witnesses say the two men were talking together when Fritz fired a shot from a handgun. Everyone on the premises said there didn’t appear to be any anger or malice involved and by all accounts, including one from the victim, it was an accident.
Deputy Marshal Peter Daniels responded to the scene, where he met with the victim, who showed him “a fresh bleeding wound just below his stomach’s beltline.” Local EMS personnel responded to the scene to treat Stewart, who was transported to the Gunnison Valley Hospital by ambulance. As of Tuesday he was listed in stable condition and was being transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction for further evaluation by a specialist not available in Gunnison.
Witnesses say one round was fired from a black handgun. It struck Stewart and the bullet passed through him and stopped in a corner of the bar. Fritz fled the bar immediately. Mt. Crested Butte police officer Sara Poppe responded to the scene and saw a man fitting Fritz’s description about three blocks from Kochevar’s.
He identified himself as Fritz and Poppe arrested him about 15 minutes after the initial call. He was taken to the Crested Butte Marshal’s Office, where he was advised of his Miranda Rights and interviewed by Marshal Mike Reilly.
According to the marshal’s report, Fritz said he had five or six drinks at a Crested Butte South bar and then hitched up to Crested Butte. He said he had another five or six drinks at Kochevar’s. He said he was “hanging around with his buddy” when the accident occurred and he fled the bar. He then told Marshal Reilly that things “went fuzzy” and he didn’t remember much else until being arrested by officer Poppe. Fritz also admitted to not having the legal permits required to carry a concealed firearm.
The bartender on duty, Todd Riceman, had called law enforcement to report the incident. He said Fritz told him after the gun fired that no one had been hit. Riceman apparently confiscated the weapon and removed the loaded magazine to make sure all live ammo was emptied. The gun was dropped into a bucket until recovered by marshals.
 Fritz is being held in the Gunnison County Detention Facility in Gunnison pending charges being filed by the District Attorney’s Office. Fritz is facing two felony charges and two misdemeanor counts. He will be charged with second-degree assault, illegal discharge of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon and the prohibited use of a weapon while intoxicated.
A press release from the Marshal’s Office made it clear that officers do “not believe there is any further pending danger to the general public regarding this incident.” The press release also states, “The charges are merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty.”
The incident is still officially under investigation.

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