By Sherry Elshaug and Mark Gutglueck
Robert Allen Shuey, the violent career criminal whose savage attack on Alex Opmanis in January 2019 precipitated the July 2019 fatal shooting of Shuey’s friend Sammy Davis, was arrested on May 21 for battery with serious bodily injury, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Shuey’s penchant for methamphetamine use, drug dealing, theft, and assault has resulted in no fewer than 17 criminal charges having been filed against him in his 29 years, concluding so far in convictions on three felonies and four misdemeanors. Two felony assault cases are currently pending against him, including that one stemming from his most current arrest.
Last year and earlier this year, Shuey’s infamy escalated as his role as a catalyst in the death of Davis, 28, last July, came to light in the aftermath of Opmanis’s arrest and the filing of murder charges against him.
The events which triggered the July 11, 2019 shooting go back more than six months prior to that. In January 2019, Opmanis, then 27, who had previously made the acquaintance of Shuey, now 29, through their mutual interest in dirt bike riding, was at the Dogwood bar in Blue Jay. Shuey, who lived not too distant from the bar, invited Opmanis, who had been drinking heavily, to come to his home. Opmanis at some point vomited while he was at Shuey’s house, after which a fight ensued. Opmanis was beaten severely and required hospitalization as a result, losing a portion of his vision in his left eye. The doctors treating him considered it necessary to insert a plate in his head because a portion of his skull had collapsed.
Encouraged by his family, Opmanis filed a civil suit against Shuey. The filing of the suit antagonized Shuey, an avid motorcyclist and gang member against whom the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office alone had filed no fewer than 17 criminal charges, having obtained felony convictions for burglary, illegal firearms possession and drug dealing, as well as reduced or misdemeanor convictions for theft, auto theft, possession of drugs and assault. In addition, Shuey has a reputation for fighting with and stabbing people. During the February-to-June 2019 timeframe, Shuey made repeated threats against Opmanis and his family, on occasion in public places and in public situations. In reaction, Opmanis obtained a handgun, a Glock 27 .40 caliber, which he stored unloaded in a lockbox below the passenger side seat of his vehicle, a black 2000 Mercedes. He kept the magazine for the gun separately in the glove compartment.
On July 11, 2019 Shuey and another avid motorcyclist, Shane Codman, then 28, had ridden their motorcycles down from the mountain communities first to Corona and then to a “Bike Night” in Riverside, where they met up with Sammy Davis around 6 p.m., in the course of which they were consuming alcohol. The three left Riverside around 8 p.m., riding their motorcycles to return to the mountains. They intended to stop at Goodwin’s Market in Crestline to purchase hamburger and beer before going to Shuey’s home in Blue Jay.
Meanwhile, Opmanis had gone to Goodwin’s Market, located at at 24089 Lake Gregory Drive in Crestline. An external security camera at Goodwin’s Market, operated by Scottsdale, Arizona-based Clear Protection Services, Inc. shows Opmanis driving into the store’s parking lot at 8:49 p.m., and an internal camera also operated by Clear Protection shows him coming into the store at 8:52 p.m., accompanied by two individuals, one identified as Osvaldo Nuno and another known only as Johnny. Davis, Shuey and Codman arrived at Goodwin’s Market at 9:02 p.m., as recorded by the store’s external security camera, and are seen coming into the store at 9:04 p.m. While Opmanis knew both Shuey and Codman, he had no previous encounters with Davis and did not know him.
According to an individual speaking on behalf of Clear Protection Services, the video surveillance system in place at Goodwin’s Market consists of several cameras, all of which run continuously and are not triggered by motion sensors or any other devices which interrupt the video surveillance.
The most telling piece of evidence in the case involving Opmanis is the video taken from one of the store’s external cameras which has the parking space where Opmanis’s Mercedes is parked very close to the center of its field of perspective. The store’s other cameras, while useful in putting the events of that evening in a temporal order, do not actually capture the shooting itself.
At 9:06 p.m., Opmanis, Nuno and Johnny are shown on the internal and then the external cameras leaving the store. Thereafter, Opmanis puts groceries into his Mercedes. Between 9:08 p.m. and 9:09 p.m., the external video shows Opmanis talking to Nuno and Johnny while they are seated in Johnny’s vehicle, which is parked proximate to Opmanis’s Mercedes. Johnny and Nuno in their vehicle drive out of the camera’s field of view.
The external camera shows Sammy Davis emerging from the store at 9:09 p.m., at which point he lights a cigarette and spots Opmanis. The camera’s audio picks up Davis yelling at Opmanis, “It’s on you, punk.” At 9:10 p.m. on the external video, Opmanis can be seen standing on the running board of his Mercedes and remaining regardful of Davis, Shuey and Codman.
At 9:11 p.m., the video shows Johnny and Nuno pull back into the parking lot and park, lights on, behind Opmanis’s black Mercedes SUV.
Between 9:11:36 p.m. and 9:11:44 p.m, Opmanis is outside his vehicle looking in the direction of the bikers. Shortly thereafter, the audio on the video captures the sound of the three bikers starting their motors. Between 9:12:06 p.m. and 9:12:24 p.m. the motorbikes’ engines are rumbling loudly. Between 9:12:26 p.m. and 9:13:20 p.m., amidst revving motorcycle engines, the bikers, with Shuey in the lead, begin to move out from the parking lot, crossing in front of the Mercedes. As they pass, Shuey can be seen ﬂipping Opmanis off with his right hand, which causes his motorcycle to momentarily swerve while he is making the hand gesture. This provokes Opmanis, who responds by himself ﬂipping Shuey off and, it appears, honking his horn. Codman and Davis honk back and turn hard left to confront Opmanis, who can be seen kicking the shopping cart return holder. Shuey briefly exits the parking lot, but then makes an immediate U-turn to return to the parking lot, joining Codman, who yet has his helmet on and is in a verbal exchange with Opmanis. Sammy Davis is at that point parked near the rear of Opmanis’s Mercedes SUV. Shuey pulls in and parks in between Codman and Davis, at the front of Alex’s SUV. Between 9:13:20 p.m. and 9:13:28 p.m. on the video, Opmanis is surrounded by the three bikers. Opmanis is a few feet from the driver’s door where he was previously standing, and it appears he is having a loud and animated exchange with Davis and Codman as Shuey has arrived. Davis dismounts from his bike. Between 9:13:28 p.m. and 9:13:40 p.m., twelve seconds are cut from the video that was presented to the court as evidence during Opmanis’s preliminary hearing. From 9:13:40 p.m. to 9:13:48 p.m., Shuey removes his helmet, dismounts from his bike, and approaches Opmanis. Davis is at the rear of the Mercedes at the same time as Shuey takes off his helmet and his jacket. He then dismounts his bike. Shuey, wearing a short-sleeved black shirt and jeans, and Davis, wearing jeans and a short-sleeved black shirt with a large white graphic on its front, are seen on the video approaching Opmanis, it appears aggressively. Codman remains on his motorcycle to the far right in the video camera’s field. Market patrons are scattered about, with cars coming and going and other commotion. There is a two second overlap from the last to the next video segment, which runs form 9:13:46 p.m. to 9:13:56 p.m. In it, Shuey is approaching Opmanis, who is toward the rear of the SUV and makes his way back to the front driver’s side door that is open, as Sammy Davis at first moves in but then circles around the back side of Shuey. At that point, it appears that the assault on Opmanis begins, followed by a crucial 12-second gap in the video that was presented as evidence during Opmanis’s preliminary hearing. When the video resumes at 9:14:08 p.m., the physical altercation between Opmanis and Davis is in full swing more toward the rear of the SUV than the front. A shopping cart or carts can be heard rattling violently in the shopping cart corral next to Opmanis’s vehicle. Shuey approaches the fight as Davis and Opmanis appear to be hunched over and struggling. The fight between them moves toward the front of Opmanis’s SUV. Shuey has his phone out with its light engaged, and appears to be videoing the fight. Two shots are heard. Nuno gets out of the passenger side of Johnny’s vehicle, still parked behind Opmanis’s Mercedes SUV with the lights on. Nuno immediately returns to the vehicle and Johnny speeds off. Shuey runs away and ducks behind a parked car. Shuey is crouching down approximately eight to ten feet away from where Davis was shot, very close to the SUV.
After the shooting, between 9:14:30 and 9:15:00, Opmanis can be heard attempting to summon help. “Someone call an ambulance! Please call for help,” Opmanis is heard saying on the video that was presented as evidence during his preliminary hearing. When Opmanis produces his phone to make a call and Shuey begins moving toward him, however, Opmanis yells, “Get back! Get Back!” and gestures strongly to Shuey. Someone can be heard saying, “He’s dying.” At that point, Opmanis beckons to Codman, “Shane! Help! Shane, come help me.” Shuey momentarily crouches behind a vehicle.
By 9:17 p.m., a woman, later identified as an off-duty nurse, is seen on the video attempting to administer to Davis. The nurse later reported that Davis reeked of alcohol.
Also by 9:17 p.m., Codman mounted his bike and rode off.
Shuey, however remained at the scene for more than four minutes following the shooting, at one point retrieving something from Davis’s person or next to him. He then made a hand gesture towards Opmanis, put his helmet on, started his motorcycle and rode away at 9:18 p.m.
Opmanis, who was originally represented by attorney Jeffrey Lawrence, subsequently by David Striker of the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office and now by attorney Mark Geragos, has pleaded not guilty, asserting he was acting in self defense.
Davis, too, had an extensive criminal record, including a 2012 conviction for burglary, a 2011 conviction for receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor conviction for public intoxication, and a 2008 felony conviction for burglary. Just prior to the shooting, Davis had been released from prison after serving a portion of a sentence for assault.
Shuey’s arrest last week, on May 21, on charges of burglary together with assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury was made at 27115 State Highway 189 in Blue Jay by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies working out of the Twin Peaks sheriff’s substation
Shuey is yet facing felony assault charges stemming from a 2016 incident in which he severely beat a security guard, Pedro Chavez, who was working the grounds of the Lake Arrowhead Marina at the time. Shuey, who was inebriated, assaulted Chavez because he believed the security guard was flirting with his girlfriend.
It remains to be seen whether Geragos will be able to get the record with regard to Shuey’s repeated arrests for assault into the record once Opmanis’s trial begins.
By Sherry Elshaug and Mark Gutglueck