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Police say man charged in shooting might have known victim

December 05, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A West Virginia State Police trooper investigating Saturday's shooting death of a Cliffside Bar and Grill bartender said Monday that he believes the man charged in the shooting knew the victim and the victim's brother.

Trooper H.D. Heil said he was trying to determine whether Robert James Jones, 25, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., had a "beef" with the victim, Michael Mihalik.

Heil said he believes that Jones might have been looking for Mihalik or his brother earlier in the evening before the shooting and added that he does not believe Mihalik knew Jones' intentions.

Heil said he was trying to make contact with Mihalik's brother to learn more information about the incident.

Mihalik, 26, of Harpers Ferry, died after being shot in the chest at the Cliffside Bar and Grill shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday.

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Mihalik was found unconscious on the floor next to a kitchen door after he was shot, said Harpers Ferry Police Chief Donald Buracker, who responded to the bar with state police and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department deputies.

Jones was being held without bond Monday at Eastern Regional Jail in Martinsburg, W.Va., on a charge of murder.

Police said Mihalik and two other people were shot when a man walked into the bar at the Quality Inn along U.S. 340 and opened fire with a 9 mm automatic handgun.

Police described the scene inside the bar at the Quality Inn as "hostile" as patrons overpowered the assailant. Buracker said a man who had been shot was holding down the alleged shooter when the chief entered the bar.

Six shots were fired, police said Sunday.

One of the shooting victims, Richard Bannerman, said he was sitting at the bar with friends when he heard a "popping" sound, according to a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate Court.

Bannerman said he felt something hit him in the leg and looked down and noticed blood on his jeans and a hole in his pants, according to the complaint filed by Trooper J.J. Phillips.

Bannerman said his friends grabbed the shooter and he helped them, Phillips said.

The third shooting victim, identified as Sean Foster, was shot in the right calf, Phillips said.

One patron in the bar, William Gardner, said he went toward Jones, and Jones threw a punch at him, striking Gardner in the head, Phillips said.

Gardner then wrestled with Jones, Phillips said.

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