The flag at DeSmet’s Sacred Heart Mission hung at half-staff Monday, as Coeur d’Alene Indian tribal members mourned the fatal shooting Saturday of a 38-year-old Plummer woman.
Angie LaSarte was shot once in the throat just before midnight outside Bobbi’s bar in Plummer, witnesses said.
LaSarte was the daughter of former longtime tribal chairman Bernard “Happy” LaSarte. In mourning, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe canceled an upcoming powwow honoring local students.
Police arrested Don Houser, 22, of Plummer. He was taken to the Benewah County Jail in St. Maries.
Plummer mechanic Chris Biles said he took Houser to the bar for a few beers after work Saturday. Houser was a mechanic at a shop across the street.
Biles said Houser left the bar about 8:30 p.m., then returned about 11:30 p.m., staggering and slurring his words.
“He was done. He should have been home a long time ago,” said Biles.
Houser had dated LaSarte for about 18 months, Biles said. The couple broke up about two weeks ago.
“They fought like cats and dogs,” Biles said.
When Houser returned to the bar Saturday, he saw LaSarte sitting with another man.
“He saw his old girlfriend and her new boyfriend in there, and he went off the wall,” said Biles, who said he restrained his friend from trying to hit the man over the head with a beer bottle.
Yvonne Weaskus was playing darts in the bar at the time. She said Houser was arguing with bar patrons and yelling. LaSarte went outside with him, apparently to calm him down.
The two apparently got into an argument in the parking lot. When it was over, LaSarte was lying on her back, a bullet in her throat. Witnesses who ran out of the bar said Houser was kneeling beside her still body, and crying.
“He was saying ‘I didn’t mean it, I didn’t mean it. I loved her,”’ said Weaskus, a receptionist at the Benewah Medical Center dental clinic.
Houser ran back inside. Biles also ran inside and called 911 as two bar patrons wrestled Houser to the ground and beat him. The Plummer town marshal arrived and arrested Houser, who by then was bleeding from the nose and mouth.
Biles said a small-caliber pistol fell from Houser when he was pulled off the bar floor. Friends and relatives were clustered around LaSarte’s body outside.
“By the time the ambulance got there, I’m sure she was gone,” Biles said.
Federal agents moved Houser from the Benewah County Jail on Monday, but agents could not be reached for information about his whereabouts. The Bureau of Indian Affairs referred questions about the shooting to the FBI. FBI officials in Coeur d’Alene and Boise couldn’t be reached, and an FBI spokesman at regional headquarters in Salt Lake City said he wouldn’t have any information until today.
Houser’s father, Ed Houser of Plummer, said the shooting was “strictly an accident.”
“The gal ran in front of him and the gun went off,” Ed Houser said. “He’ll have to serve the consequences. He thought a lot of her.”
He said his son carried the gun for protection.
“He’s just a good kid, a good worker, on the fire department since he was 15,” Ed Houser said.
The death still is being mourned.
An all-night wake begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the tribal school in DeSmet, with a funeral at the mission at 10 a.m. Thursday.
“The Coeur d’Alene tribe is outraged by the atrociousness of this crime committed against our Coeur d’Alene tribal member who is a mother of young children,” said tribal communications director Donna Matheson.
LaSarte had three sons and a daughter from a previous marriage. Friends said she was divorced two years ago. She worked at the tribalowned Benewah Market.
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