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Murder suspect, motive lacking

Greg Masse
Staff Writer

Glenwood Springs police still had no suspect Tuesday in the Sunday night shooting death of 56-year-old Tom Lubchenco at Wal-Mart and the gunman remained at large.

“We’re into the phase of reinterviewing the witnesses,” said Glenwood Springs police Lt. Lou Vallario. “We don’t have reason to believe (Lubchenco) was the intended victim of the shooting.”

Wal-Mart was open for business Tuesday after being closed for the entire day on Monday so investigators could examine the crime scene.

Police personnel are still in the early stages of the investigation, Vallario said, and they’re still searching for a motive behind the assailant’s actions.

“What we’re doing is the grind work and the tedious tracking down of information,” he said. “Was it someone who was mad at him? Was it an armed robbery and he happened to stumble onto this guy?”

He did not elaborate on whether the shooter left the store with any money or merchandise.

Vallario urged city residents to be vigilant in closing and locking their homes, but did not issue any additional warnings.

“We always encourage people to lock their cars and lock their doors,” he said.

Vallario discounted an earlier report by witness Phil Riley, a co-worker of Lubchenco’s at Wal-Mart, that Lubchenco’s wife was at the store during the shooting.

Vallario said Ruth Lubchenco was at home sleeping at the time. He said Glenwood Springs police informed her of her husband’s death.

Ruth Lubchenco also said Tuesday that she was not at the store at the time and she is not employed there.

Police are describing the suspect as a 5-foot 10-inch white male with a thin build, wearing a black baseball cap and a black jacket at the time of the shooting. Vallario also said witnesses reported that the suspect might have been wearing either a ski mask, dark glasses or tinted goggles.

“Right now we’re getting various reports,” he said.

Police were provided with some security videotapes from the store filmed at the time of the incident, but investigators haven’t yet studied them carefully, Vallario said.

The worker who was struck by the assailant with a shovel was treated and released from Valley View Hospital, Vallario said. The worker’s name has not been released.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday to officially determine the cause of Lubchenco’s death.

Vallario said it’s hard to say whether the killer will be caught.

“In the last few years, we’ve been fortunate,” he said of the department’s murder-solving prowess.

Glenwood Springs police were notified of the shooting at 11:28 p.m. Sunday. After their arrival, police searched the store property and an adjacent hillside. They tried to track the suspect using a police dog and infrared night vision devices, but their attempts were unsuccessful.

For those who wish to donate money to the family of Tom Lubchenco, a fund for has been set up at the Bank of Colorado in Glenwood Springs.

Editor’s note: A retrospective of some of the work of Tom Lubchenco, who was an artist, can be found on page 15.


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