KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — An employee at a Kalamazoo bar has been arrested after police said he shot and killed a 23-year-old man inside Wayside West bar early Thursday morning.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety confirms Damian Tarey Tejada of Kalamazoo was shot and killed around 1:30 a.m. Thursday inside the Wayside West bar located at 3406 Stadium Drive.
When officers arrived, Tejada was unresponsive. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Witnesses at the scene gave police a detailed description of the shooter, who was arrested shortly after the shooting near Lafayette Avenue and West Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo.
John Bolenbaugh plays poker at Wayside West most Wednesday nights. He says he witnessed the brutal murder of one of his buddies.
“It was murder; I mean down right murder. He chasing down with several bullets until he fell and then he just unloaded on him as he laid there,” Bolenbaugh said.
“We were trying to keep it alive and I didn’t do a very good job. It’s hard to have someone die in your arms,” he continued.
Police and Bolenbaugh agree the shooting started over an argument. But with as many as 300 potential witnesses, it’s anybody’s guess as to over what.
The suspect, a 23-year-old Kalamazoo resident and also an employee at the bar, was arrested and will be charged with open murder, according to police.
Wayside West General Manager Kory Newby released this statement Thursday: Wayside West regrets the tragic events which took place last night at our facility which resulted in the loss of a young man’s life. We are fully cooperating with KPS as it interviews our employees and customers in its investigation of this crime.
Wayside has been in business for more than 50 years and has never had an incident like this occur before. The safety of our customers and employees is a top priority. We have never permitted firearms inside our facility. We believe that this incident was a random act of violence which could have occurred anywhere.
We do not wish to compromise the on-going criminal investigation or intrude on the privacy of the victim’s family. As a result, all inquiries about this incident should be directed to KDPS.
A nagging question remains: Why did a bar employee have a gun on him in the first place?
The statement by Newby doesn’t cut it with John Bolenbaugh. “I sympathize with them because it’s not their fault, but it is their establishment and I was almost killed by their employee,” Bolenbaugh said.
Wayside West opened up for business at 11 a.m. Thursday.