Prosecution: Rap-off near Detroit Lakes led to shootingDETROIT LAKES, Minn. - According to opening statements, those gathered at the party where Travis Buckanaga was shot and killed in January barely knew the man being charged with the murder.
By: Pippi Mayfield, Forum News Service, INFORUM, Forum News Service
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - According to opening statements, those gathered at the party where Travis Buckanaga was shot and killed in January barely knew the man being charged with the murder.
After two days of jury selection, the murder trial of Ronald Quiceno of Detroit Lakes began Thursday.
Quiceno, 38, is charged with two counts of second degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of assault and one count of possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Witnesses have been questioned multiple times since January by various law enforcement agencies, and Thursday and Friday, while under oath in the court room, many said they didn’t recall saying things to law enforcement that have been taken into record.
In Becker County Attorney Mike Fritz’s opening statement Thursday, he described the scene of night of Jan. 25 and early morning of Jan. 26 at Kountry Manor mobile home park north of Detroit Lakes, where the shooting happened.
At 9:37 p.m. on Jan. 25, Buckanaga, 23, punched out from his job at Quizno’s in Detroit Lakes. Allen Bloom Jr. picked him up and they drove to Lot 9 of the mobile home park. Bloom had a bottle of brandy with him.
The mobile home on that lot is owned by Arlys Bloom, but her son, Brad, was living there at the time and remodeling the home.
That night, various friends came and went from the home, including Buckanaga, Kasey Burk, 20, Corinne Cochrane, 25, Brad Bloom, Allen Bloom Jr., Houston Moorman, 21, and Barris Guy, 27.
“They lived a lifestyle most would frown on,” Fritz said of the group of friends.
Some were homeless, most were not employed, some did drugs and some had warrants out for their arrest, he said.
Fritz went on to describe that Houston Moorman, who lived at Kountry Manor Lot 12, was a friend of Quiceno’s and the two drove Quiceno’s minivan over to Lot 9 that night to hang out.
Moorman knew the people at the house, though Quiceno was little more than an acquaintance to most.
Several of the people left the gathering for various reasons, leaving Buckanaga, Cochrane, Allen Bloom, Moorman and Quiceno.
Buckanaga and Quiceno start to have a rap-off, with Buckanaga free-styling lyrics, and Quiceno reading lyrics from his phone.
An argument then broke out between Buckanaga and Quiceno because Buckanaga said that Quiceno was being disrespectful to Cochrane, and he told Quiceno to leave the home.
Quiceno told him that only Brad Bloom had the authority to kick him out because it’s his house, not theirs. Buckanaga got more upset and punched Quiceno in the face.
Quiceno, who Fritz said is older than everyone else at the gathering by 14 years, left the house.
Guy, Burk and Brad Bloom returned, and they all decided to go back into the house to work it out.
They all entered the mobile home and an argument ensued between Buckagana and Quiceno. Fritz alleges that Quiceno then pulled out a gun and fired off multiple rounds of ammunition.
Buckanaga was shot five times in the right side, and Guy was shot in the neck.
Moorman then pushed Quiceno out of the house and Quiceno drove away in his van without Moorman. Allen Bloom chased after him and broke the window out of Quiceno’s van.
A few of the friends at the party tried to get Buckanaga out to a van and take him to the hospital, but they were unable to easily move him because Buckanaga was a big guy, standing 6-feet-10-inches tall. They had to leave his body on the ground outside.
A couple calls were made to 911, and law enforcement was dispatched to the scene. Most of the people at the party left because they had outstanding arrest warrants.
Allen Bloom did CPR on Buckanaga until law enforcement arrived and took over for him.
Buckanaga was pronounced dead at Essentia Health St. Mary’s at 1:22 a.m. on Jan. 26.
An autopsy revealed that Buckanaga had alcohol and methamphetamine in his system when he died.
Guy was wounded, and Burk drove him to her sister’s house — but they soon left and started driving toward Perham.
His bullet wounds wouldn’t stop bleeding, and she took him to the Perham Hospital, where he gave a statement to police before being transferred to Sanford Health in Fargo.
After law enforcement learned who the suspected shooter was, they staked out Quiceno’s house in Detroit Lakes, beginning at 6:30 a.m. Jan. 26.
At 1:10 p.m., they executed a search warrant on the house.
They arrested Quiceno there. They also found a laundry room with a strong odor of bleach coming from the washing machine. In it they found brown sweatpants, a brown hoodie, boots, stocking cap, leather gloves and a towel.
They found Quiceno’s van with broken windows and a black box inside it. Inside the box was Quiceno’s passport and Social Security cards and birth certificates for him and his family.
Quiceno is married with four biological children and one stepchild, ranging in ages from 8-14.
Law enforcement also found luggage in the van on top of the broken glass.
Fritz said that officers interviewed Quiceno twice, and he said he was jumped by six guys but didn’t know their names. He denied having a gun at the mobile home park.
In an interview with the police, Quiceno said that he went to a friend’s house in Callaway after the shooting, but that his friend Jon wasn’t home.
In a Jan. 27 police interview with Eric Ortega, he said he pawned a Harrington & Richardson .22 pistol to Quiceno for $300 to buy Christmas presents for his family.
Jon Moore, the Callaway man Quiceno went to visit after the shooting, was interviewed by police and said that he was in fact home that night and that Quiceno woke him up and they talked for about an hour before Moore told Quiceno to go turn himself in to the police.
He said that Quiceno gave him a revolver. The revolver was later tested, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said it was the gun used to shoot Buckanaga and wound Guy.
Defense attorney Simon George said that in the early morning hours of Jan. 26, after a fight had ensued and Quiceno was outside the trailer house, Brad Bloom wanted to “clear the air,” and invited Quiceno back into his trailer.
He said that Quiceno’s friend, Moorman, wanted to go back inside and didn’t think that Quiceno was being disrespectful to Cochrane as Buckanaga had accused him.
He said that Quiceno left the house when Buckanaga had told him to and had waited outside until he was invited back inside.
Once inside, however, Quiceno was again attacked and a fight ensued.
Guy told Buckanaga to calm down, and Cochrane said things were calming down, George said, but that Buckanaga and Guy planned to fight Quiceno.
“However it happened, a gun shows up. However it happened, shots are fired and however it happened, Mr. Quiceno ends up with the gun,” George said.
After leaving the mobile home, Quiceno drove to Moore’s house in Callaway and gave him the gun.
“He drives around in panic; he doesn’t know what to do,” George said of Quiceno that night.
“He says it wasn’t a crime because he was defending himself,” he added.
When the police came to Quiceno’s home later that day, they were solely focused on Quiceno as the shooter. Quiceno tried to distance himself from the situation and the group of people, and wasn’t completely forthcoming in his answers to law enforcement that afternoon.
“People say and do things they wish they hadn’t. It happens every day,” George said.