Smith Tower shooting suspect pleads not guilty

Robert Breck declined to have a judge set any bail amount

VANCOUVER — Robert “Bob” Breck, the man accused of shooting three people inside the lobby of the Smith Tower in downtown Vancouver last week, killing one of them, appeared in court on Tuesday. 

Robert E. Breck is wheeled into court on Tuesday. Breck is charged with shooting three people at Vancouver’s Smith Tower last week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Robert E. Breck is wheeled into court on Tuesday. Breck is charged with shooting three people at Vancouver’s Smith Tower last week. Photo by Mike Schultz

Breck’s court appointed attorney said the 80-year old was declining to have any bail set.

“My client does not want to post bail,” said Renee Alsept, “and he’s perfectly happy where he’s at right now.”

Breck pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the shooting of 75-year-old Dean Tunstall, 77-year-old Enelia Montoya and 44-year-old Shawne Garris. A report from the Clark County Coroner’s office said Tunstall died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.

According to probable cause documents, Breck told investigators he shot Tunstall over a simmering feud. Garris said Breck had offered her money to be his mistress, which she declined. She was later fired as Breck’s caretaker and told detectives he began spreading rumors about her around the senior living facility. Garris still worked as a caretaker for Montoya at the time of the shooting.

Judge David Gregerson presides over arraignment for Robert E. Breck on Thursday. Photo by Mike Schultz
Judge David Gregerson presides over arraignment for Robert E. Breck on Thursday. Photo by Mike Schultz

A trial date was set for May 11, and Breck waived his right to a speedy trial. Alsept also made a request to have video cameras banned from the courtroom.

“The defendant has a right to be presumed innocent and is guaranteed a fair trial,” said Alsept, noting that Breck was fully shackled when he was wheeled into the courtroom. “He’s basically shown fully. You know, it’s as if it’s a party by the press to show up and to take his picture.”

Robert E. Breck’s court appointed attorney, Renee Alsept, lost an attempt to ban media from her client’s upcoming trial. Photo by Mike Schultz
Robert E. Breck’s court appointed attorney, Renee Alsept, lost an attempt to ban media from her client’s upcoming trial. Photo by Mike Schultz

Judge David Gregerson responded that the court believes previous law means court proceedings are open to the public, and that the public has a right to know.

“Given the nature of the charges, there’s a high public interest in that, I’m going to deny that motion,” said Gregerson, noting that he would not eliminate the possibility of excluding cameras in the future if more information came to light.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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