FREMONT — A man charged with three counts of murder remained in custody without bond late Monday after his arrest in connection with three men’s shooting deaths early Sunday at a Fremont bar.
Igmidio “Roger” Mista, 33, of Fremont was arrested without incident Monday by Fremont police officers at a relative’s house. He appeared before Fremont Municipal Court Judge Robert Hart later in the day after what witnesses described as a deadly shooting spree at Last Call Bar.
Judge Hart granted Prosecuting Attorney Jim Melle’s request for no bond after Mr. Melle said the defendant posed a “tremendous flight risk.” Mr. Mista is from the Philippines and is in the United States illegally, said Fremont police Chief Tim Wiersma.
“Based on the seriousness of the crime, the nature and circumstances of the crime, and the access to the weapon, the weight of the evidence against the defendant, and the confirmation of the defendant’s identity, it is necessary to prevent him from being released,” Mr. Melle said.
Mr. Mista is charged with shooting and killing three men: Bartender Ramiro Sanchez, 28; off-duty Elmore police Officer Jose Andy Chavez, 26, and Daniel Ramirez, 25. A fourth man, Ramiro Arreola, 25, was shot in the shoulder. Police did not provide addresses for the victims but said they all lived in the Sandusky County area.
Mr. Arreola, who attended Monday’s court hearing, said he and his cousin, Mr. Chavez, and his brother-in-law, Mr. Ramirez, stopped by the bar to celebrate the police officer’s recent birthday. He said the group was at the bar for about an hour before the shooting, and he noticed but didn’t know the suspect.
Witnesses and police described a scene that began with an altercation involving one of the shooting victims, his wife, and an unidentified person with Mr. Mista that quickly spiraled into mayhem.
“There was a report that a punch was thrown, and then Roger Mista then took over for his friend and shot a person. And then, we think, started to exit but was randomly shooting people at his exit,” said Chief Wiersma.
Jeremy Keller of Fremont attended a vigil at the bar Monday in honor of his friend Mr. Sanchez, whom he tried to comfort after the shooting. Mr. Sanchez was behind the counter when a fight broke out, Mr. Keller said.
“He went to jump over the counter. We just heard ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and then like ‘pop, pop.’ And everybody got down and ran out, and I went back to make sure he was OK, and I stayed there with him the whole time,” Mr. Keller said.
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He held Mr. Sanchez’s hand as the victim prayed and asked Mr. Keller to tell his family and others that he loved them.
Julia Sanchez of Woodville said her son, known as Ronnie, was “always protecting somebody else.” She hugged supporters outside the bar, where mourners left bouquets and religious candles depicting Saint Jude and the Virgin of Guadalupe.
“He wants everybody to rejoice because he’s up there,” she said of her son, who wrote poems and turned them into raps. “Because he’s flying. He’s up in heaven. He went home.”
Elmore police grieved the loss of Mr. Chavez, an officer for two years. He graduated from Fremont’s Ross High School and attended Owens Community College. The officer was married and had two children, a 16-month-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. He also was a volunteer coach for the Woodmore High School boys soccer team.
He will be buried with full honors, said Elmore police Sgt. Jeffrey Harrison.
“It’s been a tragic, senseless shock for our community and our police department,” he said.
Mr. Ramirez was remembered by loved ones as a fun-loving and sweet man who served a stint in the Army.
“My son-in-law, my friend, my buddy — he gave me three beautiful grandkids. My daughter’s going through hell right now,” said Marta Dominguez of Fremont.
Chief Wiersma said Mr. Mista, who allegedly has two passports, had been in the country legally at one point but no longer had legal status.
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Khaalid Walls, a spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Detroit, said the agency has lodged an immigration detainer against Mr. Mista, indicating officials there would have interest in pursuing immigration enforcement action after local proceedings conclude in Fremont.
The detainer request also notifies Fremont police that Immigration should be notified if Mr. Mista is released from their custody at any time, so that Immigration can assume custody. Mr. Walls declined to comment further.
Attorney Zachary Selvey was appointed to represent Mr. Mista. A receptionist at Dewey and Dewey Attorneys in Clyde told a reporter Mr. Selvey had no comment.
Fremont police responded to incidents involving Mr. Mista before, including a 2013 “trouble” call from the same bar, Chief Wiersma said.
Mr. Mista’s arrest took place after Fremont police went to a residence to follow up on leads, knocked on the door, and were met by one of the suspect’s relatives. Police said the suspect was apprehended when he came to the door.
Police have not recovered the handgun used in the shootings and continue to investigate. Additional charges could be filed.
Mr. Mista is lodged at the Sandusky County jail. His next court appearance is March 20.
Staff writer Taylor Dungjen contributed to this report.