Shuey Death Intrigue & Mystery Deepen With Rumors He Was An Informant

The mystery and controversy over the April 26, 2021 death of Robert Shuey in Blue Jay has deepened, with law enforcement authorities restricting ever more tightly information with regard to exactly how his demise came about, while further information, speculation and conflicting accounts surface on an almost daily basis.
Most provocative of the emerging accounts is that Shuey, who had a criminal record literally as long as his arm, was serving as an informant, and was cooperating with at least one and perhaps several law enforcement agencies. That alone touched off a round of variegated speculation. Suggested by the circumstance was that Shuey had been killed by a local drug dealer in his orbit who has long been active in the San Bernardino Mountains communities, Johnny Garcia. It is also deemed possible that he might have been rubbed out by a Mexican drug cartel believed to be involved in the importation of methamphetamine into Southern California. Others think it is not beyond the realm of the possible that the highly volatile Shuey was killed by an element within the region’s law enforcement structure over concern that he possessed too much information about the oftentimes shady interlocking nature of San Bernardino County’s law enforcement establishment and both organized and solitary criminal elements, one that are subject to investigation, arrest, prosecution and which, nonetheless,  inexplicably coexist unmolested by the powers that be.
Shuey’s life was both daring and violent.
In his 30 years, Shuey was charged with 13 separate felonies and more than 20 misdemeanors stemming from 17 different cases/arrests in San Bernardino County alone. He was convicted on seven of those felonies and 11 of the misdemeanors. At the time of his death, two felony charges stemming from a single incident on May 21, 2020 were pending against him, those charges being first degree burglary and assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury.
Since turning 18 years old, Shuey was sentenced to prison or jail terms totaling seven years and 257 days.
Among the felony convictions Shuey sustained were for drug dealing, theft, assault, burglary and weapons charges. Several of his misdemeanor charges involved fighting or assault. At the time of his death, the district attorney’s office was considering filing charges, either as misdemeanors or felonies, relating to two physical assaults – indeed severe beatings – he had administered.
Shuey loved to fight and had engaged in far many more physical assaults than he had been criminally charged with. In recent years, he had bragged that he had put over a dozen people into the hospital.
In 2016, an inebriated Shuey beat a uniformed security guard working the grounds of the Lake Arrowhead Marina, Pedro Chavez, to a pulp, because he said, Chavez was flirting with his girlfriend.
Shuey’s savage attack on Alex Opmanis in January 2019 precipitated the July 2019 fatal shooting of Shuey’s friend, Sammy Davis. Indeed, Shuey’s infamy escalated as a result of his role as a catalyst in the death of Davis, 28. Shuey fled the scene after the shooting, gathering up what some believe was crucial evidence that might have served to exonerate Opmanis. Shuey’s involvement in Davis’s death came to public 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 of Davis went back some six months prior to that. In January 2019, Opmanis, then 27, who had previously made the acquaintance of Shuey 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 from the trauma Shuey had inflicted. The doctors treating Opmanis 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 with a reputation for stabbing people. During the February-to-June 2019 timeframe, Shuey made repeated threats against Opmanis and his family, on occasion in public places and situations. In reaction, Opmanis obtained a handgun, a Glock 27 .40 caliber, which he routinely carried in his vehicle, a black 2000 Mercedes SUV.
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 for a late night barbecue.
Meanwhile, Opmanis had gone to Goodwin’s Market, located on Lake Gregory Drive in Crestline. An external security camera at Goodwin’s Market operated by Scottsdale, Arizona-based Clear Protection Services, Inc. captured a video of the confrontation between Davis and Opmanis, footage which indicated that Shuey at one point moved in to assist Davis in administering a thrashing to Opmanis, and then backed away to use his cellphone to capture a video of Davis pounding on Opmanis. Ultimately, Opmanis managed to retrieve the Glock from his vehicle, with which he fatally shot Davis at the 9:14 p.m. point on the Goodwin’s Market video.
The video shows Codman and Shuey mounting their motorcycles and taking their leave of the parking lot after the shooting, but not before Shuey gathered several items on the ground near the scene of the shooting.
Opmanis is yet awaiting trial in the shooting of Davis, who had spent a considerable portion of the previous decade in prison, having been released shortly before the shooting incident after serving a sentence for assault.
It was anticipated that Shuey was going to be called to testify during Opmanis’s trial. He was considered to be a key witness for both the prosecution and the defense. There have been indications that Mark Geragos and Alexandra Kazarian, who are representing Opmanis, intend to make an issue at trial of the severe beating Opmanis had suffered at the hands of Shuey roughly six months before the shooting of Davis, as well as Shuey’s participation in the assault upon Opmanis on July 11, 2019 just seconds before Davis was fatally shot to establish that Opmanis had a reasonable fear for his safety that justified the discharge of his weapon.
Shuey was yet facing the charges of burglary together with assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury relating to the incident he was involved in on May 21 of last year in Blue Jay. Shuey was arrested by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies working out of the Twin Peaks sheriff’s substation in the aftermath of that incident.
Shuey had drug-related convictions including drug-trafficking, in particular dealing methamphetamine. There is indication that he was involved in the importation of methamphetamine manufactured in Mexico and that he was associating with a drug dealer working in the San Bernardino Mountains communities, Johnny Garcia. Garcia was formerly involved in the distribution of methamphetamine and more recently began trafficking in fentanyl. Unverified reports are that there were six fentanyl-related deaths in the mountains between early April and mid-May of this year.
There have been contradictory versions of how Shuey died. Initially, it was reported that he had been killed inside his home by a single gunshot to his face. That version was supported by the initial entry into the sheriff’s call/dispatch log referencing the matter as a 187, that is, a showing that the sheriff’s department considered the matter to be a homicide, Penal Section 187, specifically murder, defined as the intentional killing of another. In a highly irregular development, the sheriff’s department’s call/dispatch log was altered to reference the matter as a “DB,” i.e., a dead body. An indication that the department initially considered the matter to be a homicide consists of a screen shot the Sentinel possesses showing the log as it was originally posted prior to its alteration.
More recently, the unofficial story circulating in the mountain communities is that Shuey died at his own hand, either purposefully as a suicide or unintentionally from a drug overdose.
The Sentinel is reliably informed that Shuey expired on the night of April 26 within his home in Blue Jay. The home was locked, and inside it was his now-nearly four-year-old daughter. Sheriff’s department investigators did not arrive on the scene or gain access to the house until the morning of April 27, the Sentinel has learned, which is contrary to a previous report in the Sentinel that investigators arrived at the home on the night of April 26.
Moreover, Shuey’s three-year-old daughter was apparently in the house at the time of his death, and she remained there with her father’s corpse for at least ten and perhaps more than 12 hours until sheriff’s personnel arrived. Further, the Sentinel is told, when investigators arrived and took stock of the situation, they arranged to have a child psychologist/child and family services expert speak to the girl, and she said that the night before a man she did not know had come to the house to speak with her father, and that her father had told her to hide before he engaged with that individual.
This emerging information would seem to indicate that the initial account of Shuey’s death, by homicide, is accurate and that the later suggestion that he had expired by suicide or by an unintended drug overdose is inoperative. The sheriff’s department has not officially embraced the suicide or overdose explanation, but its actions would suggest that it wants or at least previously wanted the public to assume the matter to be a suicide or overdose. The alteration of the call/dispatch log to indicate department personnel were responding to the report of a dead body might be consistent with an effort to prevent any possible suspect in the case from being alerted to specifics that might complicate a de facto homicide investigation.
Of note is that earlier the department stated that it was awaiting the result of toxicology tests. Inquiries about the outcome of those tests by the Sentinel and others have yet to yield a response from the department, more than six weeks after Shuey’s death.
Speculation has run rampant as to what actually happened to Shuey.
If, in fact, he was serving as an informant and he was involved with a Mexican cartel importing methamphetamine to California or if he was involved in Garcia’s drug dealing operation, that might explain his death.
There are contrary indications as to whether Shuey was an informant or not.
Despite his multiple arrests and convictions, Shuey appeared to have dodged having to serve a great deal of time in prison. His accumulated sentences over the years on his convictions totaled more than seven years. Nevertheless, his actual time incarcerated was well under half of that.
In this way, Shuey seemed to be leading a charmed life, oftentimes not being held accountable for what he had done. Within the district attorney’s office, one prosecutor previously expressed frustration at not being able to put Shuey away for a decent interim, at least a decade or more, to keep him off the streets until he had aged to the point where the edge was taken off his aggressiveness and his propensity for violence, and those he was continuously hurting had some measure of protection or isolation from him. With Shuey’s demise, that is a moot point now, but the prosecutor at one point openly stated that the way in which Shuey remained at large was inexplicable to her.
Shuey’s ability to minimize the time he spent in captivity, nevertheless, might not have been a result of his cooperation with law enforcement. His attorney, Gary Wenkle Smith, on at least two occasions kept him insulated from the often rough-edged wheels of justice through skillful lawyering and outmaneuvering the district attorney’s office.
Smith told the Sentinel that it was highly unlikely that Shuey was an informant or cooperating with law enforcement authorities in any way.
“I can’t imagine Rob being a rat,” Smith said. “I don’t respect informants and I don’t represent them. More than that, the sheriff’s department had arrested him and he had been charged by the district attorney with assault with great bodily injury. They weren’t going to dismiss that. They were planning on going for it. If he was an informant, he would not have been arrested at all. They would have found some way to not charge him.”
Smith said, “I knew Rob his entire life, from the time he was born. I didn’t see this one coming. He was known to be violent. There’s no hiding that. Last year, he got busy with some guy who tried to steal his motorcycle. In the motorcycle world, if you steal someone’s bike, that can be a death sentence. That’s what comes with that. In this case, the guy got his ass kicked. But to say Rob was an informant, all the signs are contrary to that. I would never believe it.”
Meanwhile, there has long been a plethora of individuals, victims of Shuey’s violence or criminal activity, who might have held a deadly grudge against him. The Sentinel this week was regaled with the tale of a man who had recently been jailed for a short period of time on a relatively minor crime and then died after his release from the county jail. During his brief incarceration, the Sentinel was told, the man had lamented to his fellow inmates how Shuey had beaten his son, nearly to death, and was not being held to account for it. Furthermore, Shuey’s alleged involvement with Garcia, the methamphetamine-turned-fentanyl-dealer whose product is widely believed to have resulted in a wave of overdose deaths in the San Bernardino Mountains communities recently, could have induced some bereaved entity to make sure that Shuey paid the ultimate price for the misery he had doled out.
-Mark Gutglueck

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