Gunshot to head kills man in Grand Junction

Grand Junction police investigate at the scene of a fatal shooting late Sunday night in the 2400 block of Texas Avenue in Grand Junction. Andrew Boxa died from a gunshot wound to the head.

A Grand Junction man accused of killing his neighbor told police he shot the man in the head after the neighbor had intervened in an argument between him and his wife, according to an arrest affidavit.

Robert JW McCleland, 31, 2541 Texas Ave., told arresting Grand Junction police officers he had drunk about four beers in several hours before he and his common-law wife argued Sunday night.

The neighbor, 27-year-old Andrew Boxa, walked over to McCleland’s home to “try and calm him down,” the affidavit said McCleland told officers.

McCleland and Boxa argued on the front porch, but Boxa never entered McCleland’s home, the affidavit said. The two residences are across Texas Avenue from one another.

McCleland told police he went back to his bedroom and retrieved a Glock .40-caliber pistol, returned and pointed the weapon at Boxa, the affidavit said.

McCleland said he repeatedly told Boxa to “get the (expletive) away” and that Boxa retreated just a few feet but remained “confrontational,” the affidavit said.

McCleland told officers he didn’t believe Boxa was armed. McCleland said he fired a shot into his front yard, in front of Boxa, then fired again, wounding Boxa in the leg.

“McCleland said by this time they were standing in the street in front of his house but Boxa still would not leave,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit said McCleland admitted taking aim at Boxa’s head and firing once.

Although he told officers that he’d been drinking, McCleland refused to submit to breath or blood tests for alcohol in his system, the affidavit said.

Witnesses told The Daily Sentinel they heard a gunshot, then after several minutes, three to four more shots.

McCleland’s wife was among the first witnesses greeting arriving officers, yelling, “He shot him.” Officers initially were called to McCleland’s home at 8:55 p.m. on a reported verbal disturbance.

When they arrived and ordered, with guns drawn, McCleland to drop the weapon, he removed the magazine from the gun and placed both on the front porch, the affidavit said.

“I think he realized pretty quickly this wasn’t a bad dream,” said a man who lives near McCleland, speaking on the condition he not be named.

McCleland and his wife have two young girls, one weeks old and another just more than a year old, who were home when the shooting occurred and were later taken to stay with their grandparents, the neighbor said.

Loud verbal spats between the couple were fairly common, he said. “They sometimes would lead outside.”

Officers were called to the home on a report of verbal disturbance Christmas evening. No action was taken, according to police records.

Another resident in that block of Texas Avenue said Boxa was a married father of two young boys and that the family would occasionally go to that resident’s home to watch football games.

Betty Hill, 78, said she baby-sat for one of the young girls at McCleland’s home.

“He was just being a good Samaritan,” Hill said of Boxa’s actions.

On Monday, McCleland was ordered held on $1 million bond at Mesa County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, menacing with a deadly weapon, prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

“He’s been a good kid his entire life, except for his alcohol issues,” McCleland’s father told Mesa County Judge Craig Henderson.

According to records on file with the Mesa County Justice Center, Robert McCleland between 1996 and 1999 was charged in seven separate misdemeanor cases of being a minor in possession of alcohol. He pleaded guilty to the charge five times.

In two of the cases, the charges were dropped after McCleland pleaded guilty to obstructing a peace officer and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

He will be formally charged in the shooting case on Monday.


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