A Grand Junction man shot to death by a federal officer Sunday had killed two people and wounded five in 1993 after bursting into a Colorado Springs bar in a flak jacket with an AK-47 and four grenades.
But Eugene Baylis was acquitted. His attorneys argued that he fired more than 100 rounds at and outside Jim & I’s Star Bar in self-defense after a motorcycle gang member earlier shot him in the face with a pellet gun.
Killed were Paul “P.K.” Klein, 40, a Sons of Silence member who managed the bar, and Steven Fairfax, 33, who was outside the bar.
Police Officer James Rau shot Baylis in the head, wounding him, as he tried to reload.
Sunday, an officer with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management fatally shot Baylis after he opened fire on two BLM officers near Grand Junction.
Baylis, 67, was on BLM land about a mile from the agency’s rifle range when he shot one officer, who was saved by his protective vest.
Baylis was tried in 1995 on his high-profile Colorado Springs case, with more than 100 witnesses testifying over 28 days. But a Pueblo County jury found him innocent of 43 charges in the April 17, 1993, shooting spree.
“They convinced the jury that Gene Baylis was a victim. That was a hell of a job,” said then-District Attorney John Suthers, now mayor of Colorado Springs.
The defense team had worried that Sons of Silence members would seek revenge against Baylis. One attorney dropped out of the case after reported threats.
“I worry about somebody capping (Baylis) because he’s got the whole world mad at him,” said J.R. Reed, national president of the Sons of Silence, in 1995. “But they won’t get the blame. We will.”
Baylis pleaded guilty later in 1995 to federal charges of illegal possession of three machine guns. He was sentenced to three years in prison, minus 758 days for time served.
His criminal history had faded after he pleaded guilty in 1999 in Grand Junction to providing alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor, court records show.
But his last crime occurred about 2:45 p.m. Sunday, when he shot at the BLM officers as they approached a white van in the desert near the Bookcliffs, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Baylis died of multiple gunshot wounds, the Mesa County Coroner’s Office found.
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