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The Denver Post
By Kirk Mitchell and Howard Pankratz, The Denver Post
Posted: 01/01/2009 12:30:00 AM MST Updated: 01/01/2009 09:31:00 AM MST
An acquaintance noticed a shift in the quiet man’s attitude in the days before the violence at Eldora.
Brian Mahon, general manager of Eldora Mountain Resort, was shot and killed Tuesday. He’s remembered as a hardworking manager and a devoted dad.
Derik Bonestroo led an unremarkable life until Tuesday. He went to church, worked and had never been in trouble.
Football was his life at Lyons High School, where he was a model student. He later built his own trailer for a welding project at Trinidad State Junior College in Alamosa. He wanted to become a machinist.
“Something happened between high school and now,” said Lyons High School principal Mark Mills. “I’m befuddled and shocked.”
Tuesday morning, Bonestroo, 24, walked into a staff meeting with fellow lift operators at Eldora Mountain Resort and began a religious rant, authorities say. He then fatally shot general manager Brian Mahon.
Bonestroo eventually died in a shootout with a Boulder County deputy.
don’t know what happened,” Bonestroo’s uncle Greg Bonestroo said Wednesday. “It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and it can’t be taken back once it happens. He was a good kid.”
The Boulder County coroner’s office said Wednesday evening that although Bonestroo was hit multiple times by the deputy’s AR-15 assault rifle, his death was classified as a suicide. Bonestroo shot himself with the same semiautomatic pistol used to kill Mahon, the coroner’s statement said.
Derik Bonestroo’s landlord in Nederland, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said that while Bonestroo was quiet and paid his rent on time, he “was obviously socially very awkward.”
In the past three weeks, Bonestroo’s behavior became increasingly odd to the point that the landlord was very worried. Conversations became bizarre not ordinary talks about Christianity.
Bonestroo asked what kind of Bible the landlord had. Bonestroo said he hoped it wasn’t “Satan’s Bible.”
Greg Bonestroo, who lives in Phoenix, said his nephew was raised in an Army family. His father was an officer who became an air-traffic controller. His mother was a bank vice president. He has one older brother.
The family had lived in Hawaii, Arizona and Colorado.
A Boulder County Bomb Squad robot maneuvers behind the suspect’s vehicle after the shootings near Eldora Mountain Resort near Nederland on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008.
Derik loved the outdoors and as a kid was very good at rollerblading.
Mills said Derik Bonestroo was a good student whose parents were very involved in his progress.
He was on two football teams that lost to Akron High School in state championship games. He was the starting center his senior year, Mills said.
Derik Bonestroo liked to go hunting.
The last time Greg Bonestroo saw his nephew was about a year and a half ago when he came with his family to Arizona on vacation. Both of Derik Bonestroo’s parents are retired.
Derik was eager to ride go-carts in the desert.
“He was laughing and enjoying himself,” Greg Bones- troo said.
In November, Derik Bonestroo got a job as a lift operator at Eldora, said Rob Linde,
Employees console each other Wednesday at Eldora. Resort officials said Brian Mahon, slain Tuesday, would have wanted them to smile through adversity.
Eldora spokesman. He lived alone in a rented room on Jackson Street in Nederland, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.
Recently, Bonestroo suddenly told the landlord that he was going up to the resort on Tuesday to quit his job.
The landlord, who had been contemplating what to do with his quiet and strange tenant, became very concerned.
The landlord never felt threatened. He had never felt reason to call the police. But Bonestroo had said he was taking Lithium and antidepressants.
Bonestroo had also told his landlord he had studied gunsmithing. But Bonestroo claimed he had no guns in his Nederland room.
When, on Tuesday, the landlord heard of the shooting at the ski area, he suddenly thought of his tenant. And later the police came and went through the room he had rented to Bonestroo.
Co-workers described him as a quiet loner, said Cmdr. Phil West of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
“He didn’t socialize,” West said.
West said he was advised by county attorneys not to comment on any possible psychological care Derik Bonestroo had received. But he said Bonestroo had never been arrested and had only a traffic violation on his record.
“He was just a fine young man. He never got into trouble,” Mills said. “That’s why it’s such a shocking and sad thing. My heart not only goes out to his family but to the family of the man he shot.”
Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or email@example.com