Killer angry about fumes from businessSheriff's Office could change search tactics in similar situations
by SARA REED SaraReed@coloradoan.com
Barry Shebs shot and killed Matthew Gulakowski through a small hole near the ceiling of Shebs' unit at a commercial park east of Fort Collins, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said Tuesday.
Gulakowski, 35, was found shot six times Monday in his unit at the Mulberry Commercial Park, 2649 E. Mulberry St., about 4:15 p.m., setting off an hours-long search for a gunman in the commercial park. Four hours later, Shebs, 45, was found hanging in his unit, which was adjacent to Gulakowski's.
The case could prompt the Sheriff's Office to conduct investigations differently into similar situations, Alderden said.
Shebs lived in a camper in his unit, Alderden said. It was a zoning violation for Shebs to live in the unit, and the owner of the unit said he did not know Shebs was living there and would not have allowed him to continue living there had he known.
Alderden said a specific time of death had not been established for Shebs.
Shebs fired six shots from a .357-caliber Magnum Ruger revolver through a 4-by-4-inch hole about 12 feet up the wall, Alderden said. There was a loft under the hole, Alderden said, and it appears Shebs was lying in wait for Gulakowski.
Gulakowski was almost done moving his custom woodworking business, Pro Formance Creations, out of the unit when he was shot, Alderden said. Shebs had complained to many people, including the Sheriff's Office on one occasion, about the fumes coming from Gulakowski's business, Alderden said.
The two men also had a disagreement regarding snow removal following one of the heavy snowfalls the area received late last year.
There is some indication that the dispute contributed to Gulakowski relocating his business, Alderden said.
In the complaint he made to the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 11, Shebs said he thought the fumes were military gas, Alderden said, and that he had an "organic gas mask" to protect himself.
Investigators found an 18-page letter in Shebs' unit detailing his complaints about the fumes, the last four pages of which were written Monday, Alderden said. In the letter, Shebs indicated that he knew Gulakowski was moving but that it "wouldn't stop the harassment" and he had to do something to stop it.
Alderden said he was not aware if Shebs had a diagnosed mental illness or history of mental-health problems. Shebs also did not have a local criminal history and only a "minor offense" in Utah, Alderden said.
The discovery of the hole Shebs used in the shooting caused some re-evaluation of the method used to clear the scene, Alderden said.
Alderden said the units with people inside them were evacuated and cleared once and then locked units were cleared from the perimeter in. Immediately following the shooting, deputies knocked on the door to Shebs' unit but did not get an answer and the door was locked, he said.
As they searched, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman told at least one news outlet that a gunman could be on the loose in the area.
When investigators learned of the dispute between the two men, the SWAT team immediately went to Shebs' unit and found the door had been barricaded, Alderden said.
In retrospect, Alderden said, it might have been better to clear the units closest to the crime scene first.
The discovery of the hole also cleared up a lot of initial confusion during the investigation, Alderden said.
Investigators had a witness who saw Gulakowski being shot but couldn't understand how that witness couldn't have seen the shooter, Alderden said. It also explained why no shell casings were found at the scene, he said.
In a camper in Shebs' unit, investigators also found a television showing a closed-circuit camera feed from a camera that showed activity in front of the two units.
Rebecca and Matt at my Halloween party. I just saw them at my going away party, where Matt was complaining about the friggin' murderer. He was so excited to be moving into an actual shop. I feel really helpless right now.