After a cold-blooded gang shooting outside a now-shuttered tavern, Colorado Springs police arrived within minutes and the witnesses they encountered ultimately led them to an arrest.
But did they get the right man?
That question is at the heart of a trial that began this week for Tyler Scott Williamson, a 25-year-old Colorado Springs man arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder after Kevin McCray was shot three times in the back Aug. 19 outside the 2 Dog Tavern, 3113 S. Academy Blvd.
According to investigators, McCray, a 35-year-old father of three, had spent the night drinking with friends inside the bar and was in the parking lot smoking a cigar when a gunman emerged from the dark, claimed a gang affiliation and opened fire.
During opening statements Wednesday, prosecutor John Russo repeatedly called the shooting a "cowardly" act and told jurors that eyewitness identifications and gunshot residue found on clothing stashed in Williamson's Colorado Springs apartment will tie him to McCray's death. Surveillance footage from the bar shows that like the victim, Williamson and his associates had spent the night drinking at the bar, according to Russo, who did not suggest a motive beyond quoting the shooter's gang-related rallying cry before he began firing.
Defense attorneys countered that the case against their client is short on evidence - stitched together by inconsistent statements from eyewitnesses, who they say initially blamed the shooting on a dark-skinned, long-haired man.
But Williamson is light skinned and his head was bald then as now, public defender Jeremy Loew countered in court, adding that police and prosecutors were undeterred by the discrepancy.
"We got our man - let's just move on," Loew said of investigators' attitudes with a clap of his hands, in what became a refrain in his opening statement. He said the gunpowder residue could have been left on Williamson's clothes by the armed SWAT officers who raided his residence.
When police officers arrived at the 2 Dog Tavern, they rendered aide to the dying McCray while lining up potential witnesses.
Colorado Springs police Sgt. Joel Kern testified that he was on the street nearby on a traffic stop when he heard shots ring out from the tavern. He and Officer Anthony Voltz ran toward the gunfire, arriving to find two of McCray's friends trying to load him into a car.
After ordering them to leave McCray and wait for an ambulance, Kern said he performed CPR on McCray for what seemed like 10 to 15 minutes.
Despite officers' life-saving efforts, McCray did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital.
The witnesses the officers encountered outside the tavern led police to their shooting suspect, prosecutors say.
Defense attorneys say that police interviewed only a relative handful of the 60 people who were outside the bar when the officers arrived.
The trial is expected to last two weeks; testimony continues Thursday morning.
Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366 Twitter @lancebenzel
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