Neighbors hope for answers in bizarre fatal shooting
A 63-year-old retiree is dead after a bizarre weekend attack outside his upscale home near Colville, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday.
Gordon R. Feist was shot twice late Sunday on Smart Way, a private cul-de-sac about four miles south of Colville, as he rode a small utility vehicle. He was taken off life support Monday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center; friends say he was an organ donor.
A neighbor reported a car crash to Stevens County officials about 11:20 p.m. after witnessing Feist crash into a utility pole as he rode a small vehicle that another neighbor described as a Kubota-style golf cart. Medics arrived to find Feist bleeding from two gunshot wounds, said Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen.
Sheriff’s officials say they have no suspects or motive in the slaying but say they don’t believe it was accidental. Investigators don’t know if Feist was shot before or after he hit the utility pole but suspect it was before, Allen said.
“Nothing has come to light that’s concrete at this time,” he said. “Everything we’ve got is pretty much an educated guess at this time.”
Allen described Feist as a “pretty clean-cut person” who had no criminal record. His girlfriend, Denise Ridley, works as a real estate agent in Ukiah, Calif., but often stayed at the Stevens County home, neighbors said.
A woman who answered Ridley’s cell phone declined comment.
Feist’s slaying has devastated the small neighborhood where he’d lived since relocating from California a couple of years ago.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Sylvia Rathbun, who lives on Smart Way. She described Feist as quiet and respectful – a perfect fit with the residents of the approximately seven other homes.
“He was one of the best neighbors I’ve ever had, and it’s hard to come by a good neighbor,” said Kevin Searls.
Baffled neighbors say they have no idea why someone would target Feist, but some suspect it may have been a burglary or home-invasion robbery that spiraled out of control.
Feist’s home, which was built in the last year or two, is “the nicest place back here” with a large shop filled with tools and other equipment, Searls said.
“If someone was looking for somebody that maybe had money or something, that house was the nicer house,” he said.
But, Searls added, “They would have to go by two or three houses to get to his house. That’s why it’s hard for me to think it’s a random thing.”
Sheriff’s officials have not said whether Feist’s home was disturbed but said he wasn’t missing anything, including his wallet or other valuables.
Searls believes Feist may have been forced into the cart or was trying to escape. He can’t picture his neighbor, who he described as an “early riser,” riding the cart so late at night for any other reason.
Searls has lived on the private road for about eight years and in the Colville area for 35 years.
“We’ve always felt really safe,” he said. “I came from the coast – that’s where you get killed. You just don’t hear about those things happening in Colville.”
Feist hunted and carried a firearm, Searls said, but “it didn’t matter. Whoever this was got past all that.”
Searls said he’s received little information from investigators.
“You can see that they were pretty much baffled, too,” he said. “I’m praying that they catch the person or that they have some lead or clue that could lead them to what happened,” he said.