Drunken brawl preceded hit-and-run that killed 1, injured 6 at Colorado bar
The Denver Post October 11, 2022
DENVER — A chaotic drunken brawl preceded the hit-and-run at a Golden bar that killed one man and injured six other people early Sunday morning, according to court records.
Adrian Ponce, 26, was killed when a pickup truck driver plowed a Chevy Silverado into a crowd of people outside Rock Rest Lodge on Mount Vernon Road in Golden around 1:43 a.m. Sunday. A bar patron, Ronnie Fisher, 27, and two bar employees, Robert Fulcomer, 52, and Michael Gause, 28, were also seriously injured.
An additional two bar employees suffered minor injuries, and Ponce’s brother, Angel Estrada, 28, was taken to a hospital after the attack and sedated but suffered only minor injuries, according to an affidavit filed against the two men arrested after the attack. Another victim was inside a car that was struck during the attack but was not injured.
Investigators believe Ruben Marquez, 29, drove the truck into the crowd. He is facing charges of first-degree murder and assault. His cousin, Ernesto DeJesus Avila, 25, who is the registered owner of the truck, is believed to have been a passenger during the assault. He is facing charges of accessory to murder and accessory to assault.
Marquez, who has a lengthy criminal history in Colorado and is on parole, was also charged with violating that parole and violating a previous protection order by drinking alcohol. He told deputies that he was “(expletive) drunk” when he was arrested Sunday.
An affidavit filed against the two men lays out a chaotic, alcohol-fueled confrontation that preceded the vehicular attack. The incident may have been motivated by a gang dispute, according to the affidavit.
Avila told police that he, Marquez and another cousin went to Rock Rest Lodge for a birthday celebration and that they drank several alcoholic beverages that night. He said he went to the bathroom and was confronted by two men who asked about his gang affiliation.
Avila said he denied being in a gang. Marquez told investigators during his arrest that he is a member of a gang. Another witness told investigators that Avila and Marquez had exchanged light-hearted banter about gang affiliations with another group of men throughout the night, and that it did not turn serious until later.
After Avila was confronted by the two men at the bathroom, he decided “it was time to leave,” and found Marquez and his other cousin on the dance floor, according to the affidavit. As the trio left the bar, they were again confronted by the two men, identified by one witness as Ponce and his brother, Estrada.
A fist fight ensued. The other cousin told police he was punched in the face and ran away, but tripped and was kicked by multiple people while he was on the ground. Avila told police he went after his cousin and got him back into the truck.
Investigators believe Marquez got into the driver’s seat of the truck and then drove it into the crowd. Multiple witnesses described Marquez as the driver of the truck during the attack, according to the affidavit.
After the attack, Avila got back into the driver’s seat and drove away, at which point the trio were pulled over, according to the affidavit, which notes several of the witnesses to the attack were drunk and some suffered blackouts.
Estrada, Ponce’s brother, punched a witness who approached him after the attack, and was so “combative” that he had to be handcuffed and later sedated, according to the affidavit. He suffered only minor injuries.
Other victims suffered injuries that included a fractured spine, broken pelvis, broken rib, head wounds and internal bleeding.
Ponce’s family could not be immediately reached for comment Monday. But they described him as a hard-working, dedicated and outgoing father of two in a GoFundMe account that was set up to raise money for funeral expenses.
Rock Rest’s owner could not be reached for comment Monday. A post on the bar and grill’s Facebook page said it would reopen for business on Thursday.