Police have identified a suspect in the investigation of a homicide last month at a Peerless Tyre Co. gas station in Longmont, Colo.
Charles Wilson, 86, was shot sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight Feb. 12 at the station, which is paired with a Peerless retail tire outlet. Police found his body about 4:45 a.m. after family members said he hadn't returned home from work, said Detective Commander Craig Earhart of the Longmont Police Department.
Samuel Forbes, president, CEO and chairman of Denver-based Peerless, said Mr. Wilson, a 14-year company veteran, had been working the night shift part-time. He was scheduled to close the gas station at 9:30 p.m.
``We assume that happened,'' Mr. Forbes said, adding Mr. Wilson was a friendly person who liked to be around people.
Police and Mr. Forbes said the incident ap-peared to be a robbery attempt though Mr. Forbes said the assailant did not seem to get any cash. The only available cash was a limited amount in the change fund, and the rest was in a drop safe that Mr. Wilson would not have been able to open.
``It would appear they came in while he was closing out,'' Mr. Forbes said.
The suspect, a 21-year-old Longmont man, was arrested on unrelated charges about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 13, about four hours before the murder was discovered, police said. Mr. Earhart said police stopped the suspect for driving with expired license plates and arrested him on an outstanding warrant.
Police discovered .25 caliber ammunition and a shoulder holster, but Mr. Earhart declined to say if they were connected to the Peerless shooting. He said the suspect has not been charged with the murder, and he remains out of jail on bond for the other charges. He declined to comment on whether more suspects may be involved.
``We do have suspects in this case, but we're not at the point yet that we can make an arrest,'' Mr. Earhart said.
Mr. Forbes said the company had been operating gas stations since its founding in 1949. ``This is the first time we had an employee death or a violent death,'' he said.
Mr. Earhart said the incident- Longmont's first murder in three years-also is unusual for the city, which has a population of 71,000.
Peerless operates 54 tire stores in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, and posted sales of $100 million in 2001. Mr. Forbes said the firm operates 38 gas stations, 12 of which are combined with retail outlets.
He said the company has not decided on any drastic changes to the Longmont outlet or others. Still, Peerless made some adjustments, including changing some procedures, improving lighting and trimming shrubs, Mr. Forbes said. The changes apply to the other gas stations.