Killer’s motivation will remain a mystery
Police close book on Fine-Gallagher driveway slayings
The mystery shrouding the motive for an attack that left two Grand Junction residents dead and two others wounded will remain just that — a mystery.
Grand Junction police Friday formally closed the investigation into the Oct. 11 killings of Terry Fine, a well-known Grand Junction dentist, and Flo Gallagher, a retired teacher and the wife of former Mesa State College President Mike Gallagher.
Fine’s widow, Linda, was shot several times in the ambush on a quiet north Grand Junction street and another man, Paco Larson, was shot once.
The shooter was identified as a 22-year-old loner from Alaska, Stefan Martin-Urban, who made his way to Colorado about eight weeks before the violent outburst on a quiet Saturday morning.
Martin-Urban shot himself in the head about 45 minutes after the attack, and his death a day later ended any real hope of understanding exactly why he opened fire on five unsuspecting, unarmed victims.
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, said Grand Junction Police Sgt. Tony Clayton, who investigated the attack.
The horror of the day is now over without ever really ending, said Mike Gallagher, who was the apparent target of five shots by Martin-Urban, but who escaped at high speed to St. Mary’s
Hospital with a bleeding Linda Fine in the smoke-filled back seat and his silver BMW riddled with bullet holes.
“It’s obvious at this point that we’re never going to know,” Gallagher said Friday. “It doesn’t matter anyway because it’s not going to bring Flo back or Terry back.”
Among the conclusions of the police investigation, which was conducted with the aid of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, were that Martin-Urban acted alone and gave no indication of his intentions, which might have allowed someone to intervene, and that he chose his victims at random.
Martin-Urban had “an intense interest in video games that graphically portray the shooting deaths of people,” police said in a statement. “That alone does not give us a motive for the shooting, but may have provided Martin-Urban with an idea of how to carry out the act.”
The Gallaghers and Fines were to drive that morning to Las Vegas for a long weekend.
It was Flo Gallagher’s first weekend of her actual retirement. Though she had formally left her job teaching reading at Grand Junction High School that spring, she had just completed work as a long-term substitute for a pregnant friend who was just ready to return to the classroom.
As they left their home in Spring Valley, the Gallaghers noticed a dark-green Honda CR-V in their cul-de-sac, but paid it little heed.
They noticed the same vehicle pull onto the street in front of the Fines’ home on Chestnut Drive several minutes later. Martin-Urban got out, approached Terry Fine and shot him at close range with a 9 mm Ruger handgun.
Without speaking, the gunman fired several times into the back seat of the Gallaghers’ car, striking Linda Fine several times. He then fired at Flo Gallagher as she stepped outside the car, wounding her fatally.
The gunman ran out of ammunition as he leveled his gun at Mike Gallagher, giving Gallagher a moment to throw the car into reverse and then speed away to St. Mary’s with Linda Fine bleeding in the back seat.
Martin-Urban, who reloaded his weapon, wasn’t done shooting. He fired five shots at Gallagher as he backed his vehicle away and drove off.
Martin-Urban then fired twice at a neighbor, Paco Larson, leaving Larson with a bullet lodged in his back.
Several details emerged during the police investigation.
Martin-Urban, for instance, had been through Grand Junction once before, during a bus ride to Denver, where he moved about eight weeks before the shooting, Clayton said.
There was no evidence that the stop in Grand Junction had an effect on him one way or the other, Clayton said.
Although Martin-Urban left no note, which might undercut any intention of suicide, he also had no money and left nothing behind that suggested he had any plans beyond that morning.
He had been in Green River, Utah, just 12 hours before, but the only reason authorities knew that was the discovery of a receipt for a hamburger he bought there.
Gallagher is now back to teaching business at Mesa State College. Linda Fine, said Gallagher, is “doing really well physically, considering what she’s been through.”
With the end of the investigation, “We all just want to try moving on with our lives,” Gallagher said. “Reliving it is not something any of us want to do.”