Varied descriptions of shooter puzzled investigators

Inconclusive and often contradictory descriptions of Stefan Martin-Urban hampered investigators who tried to understand why the 22-year-old Alaska man shot and killed two people, wounded two others and fired several times at the fifth.

Martin-Urban’s actions on the morning of Oct. 11, 2008, remain unexplained. He died Oct. 12 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and never spoke to police.

Witnesses to the attack that left Dr. Terry Fine and Flo Gallagher dead and Linda Fine and Paco Larsen wounded described the assailant as mechanical and detached.

Mike Gallagher also lived to describe those tumultuous moments when five rounds were fired at him as he sped to St. Mary’s Hospital with Linda Fine in the back of his car. Gallagher, a former Mesa State College president, couldn’t be reached for comment on the anniversary of the shooting.

The Fines and Gallaghers were attacked as they were preparing to leave the Fines’ north Grand Junction home for a trip to Las Vegas.

Martin-Urban’s mother, Christine Urban of Alaska, told Grand Junction police who interviewed her by telephone that her son had limited social skills and described him as “somewhat autistic,” according to one of several police reports obtained by The Sentinel.

A school counselor told police she was aware Martin-Urban was said to have been autistic but never saw him exhibit autistic behavior.

Martin-Urban also had become fascinated with the Mayan calendar, his mother told investigators. By her account, he seemed to have believed an alien event was to occur on Oct. 12, 2008.

None of the other people interviewed by police, however, described him as having any fascination with the Mayan calendar.

His roommate during the spring semester of 2008 at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, described him as a resolute atheist who fended off efforts by devout Mormons to draw him to their church.

Martin-Urban left several personal items with the roommate, along with a note saying he wasn’t good with good-byes, before the semester ended.

A counselor once described her son as “a chameleon, saying he didn’t have a persona of his own, but took on the persona of others,” Martin-Urban’s mother told the police.

Investigators searched the hard-drive on Martin-Urban’s computer, using several terms, such as the names of the victims, their relatives and associates, computer games, street names, and other words in hopes of finding connections that might shed light on his actions.

They found none.

Martin-Urban left “no notes, no journal, no nothing” that could help explain what drove him to kill, much less offer insight into why and how he chose his victims, Grand Junction Police Sgt. Tony Clayton said in a March 27 interview. That was the day the police closed the investigation, unable to draw any conclusion other than Martin-Urban’s action was a random act of violence.


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