Green River Star -

By David Martin

Bond set for alleged strip club shooter


Circuit Court Judge John Prokos set bond for Joaquin Leon-Guzman at $750,000 cash or surety Tuesday afternoon, citing Leon-Guzman as a flight risk.

Leon-Guzman, 33, is charged with felony aggravated assault and battery and three misdemeanor counts of reckless endangering stemming from him allegedly shooting at bystanders in front of the Bareback Saloon in Rock Springs early Sunday morning. One person was injured in the shooting. If convicted, Leon-Guzman could face up to 10 years in prison, three years in jail and a total fine of $12,250, not including court costs. 

“He was lucky no one was killed,” Kristi Pucci, representing the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office, said during Leon-Guzman’s initial appearance hearing.

Even if Leon-Guzman can provide the bond amount, he is under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold, which according to Prokos means Leon-Guzman could be shipped to another holding facility and would not be released before his trial.

According to court documents, officers with the Rock Springs Police Department responded to the Bareback Saloon at 1:27 a.m., Sunday to a report of shots fired outside the club and a person being injured. Witnesses at the club described the shooter as being a Hispanic male with a beard driving a  black, lifted Dodge pickup truck. While processing the scene, officers found two bullet defects on the lower part of the building where four people were standing.

One man, Kory White, was shot in the upper thigh during the incident and was transported to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. The bullet entered and exited White’s thigh and hospital personnel claimed the injury was not fatal.

In a statement White gave to officers, White said he and three other people were standing outside the club’s front entrance when a bearded Mexican in a black lifted truck drove in front of the club and yelled towards the group in Spanish. He claimed the man aimed a rifle in their diction and heard “two pops.” White said he thought the man fired at them and believed the rifle was a .22 caliber because the pops weren’t loud. White then said he went into the bar and passed out at the entrance.

The truck was later found near the Fire District No. 1 building on College Hill, with Leon-Guzman being the sole occupant in the vehicle and matching the description provided to officers.

During a search of the vehicle, officers found a .22 caliber model AR-15 rifle, laying on the back seat. Leon-Guzman was then transported to the RSPD for questioning, while his truck logged as evidence for processing.

During an interview at the police department, court documents state Leon-Guzman said he initially went to the Bareback Saloon at 11 p.m. that night. He went to the bar for a drink, but the bartender denied him alcohol. After he bought a drink from another woman at the bar and proceeded to play pool. Later, he offered to buy other patrons a round of drinks and the bartender told him he wouldn’t do that and was told to leave. Leon-Guzman said the bartender called him a an “expletive Mexican” and escorted him outside. Once outside, he said the bartender kicked him multiple times in front of a group of bystanders who did not intervene. Leon-Guzman said he thought he heard the group say “kill him” as he was attacked and said a bouncer came out and kicked him as well, but wasn’t entirely sure.

Leon-Guzman, feeling enraged over how he was treated, said he went to his truck and drove in front of the club, pulling out a .22 caliber rifle and firing in the direction of four people standing near the entrance.

Court documents state he told officers he wasn’t shooting at anyone in particular, just shooting because he was upset. He claimed he was unaware someone was injured during the shooting.

Documents also claim he said he would take full responsibility for his actions and that he did not mean to hurt anyone.

“I apologize for what I did. I did not consider the people who were there,” Leon-Guzman said through an interpreter at the hearing Tuesday.


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