The shooting death of a bicyclist considered the unofficial mayor of a normally quiet Colorado town has led organizers to cancel a popular annual race, while a lack of details in the case fuels speculation that Windsor’s first homicide in eight years is linked to a nearby highway shooting.
John Jacoby’s body was found Monday along a rural road in the town of about 19,000, southeast of Fort Collins. The 48-year-old was a part-time parks worker and friendly grocery store bagger who walked or rode his bike everywhere.
His brother, a fire department EMT, was among those who responded to what authorities initially thought was a fatal hit-and-run. Police later disclosed Jacoby was shot twice, but they have not said where he was shot or what type of gun was used.
Investigators said this week they’re looking at all possibilities, including whether the killing involved road rage or if it was connected to the April 22 shooting of Cori Romero about 5 miles away on Interstate 25.
Romero was shot in the neck while driving but managed to pull over and call for help.
On Wednesday, town spokeswoman Kelly Unger said only that the investigation is ongoing and there was no new information to release.
The FBI has been assisting but referred questions to police.
Meanwhile, a string of unsolved cases of broken vehicle windows reported by drivers since the I-25 shooting has added to residents’ concerns.
Investigators have so far no found no evidence of gunshots in those cases. They’ve been checking with insurance companies and repair shops to find out whether something unusual is going on, and have been getting conflicting information, Larimer County sheriff’s spokesman David Moore said.
Last week, Shonna Kempter reported damage to one of her SUV windows after dropping off her child at a Fort Collins high school, about 20 miles from the latest shooting. But city police Sgt. Dean Cunningham said it appeared to be the result of a stress fracture.
Kempter said part of what concerns her is not knowing what happened to her car or who is behind the shootings or broken windows.
“It doesn’t feel like as safe a community as it did a few years ago. I know it’s part of growth,” she said. Kempter, a marathon runner, added she has restricted her runs and those of her 14-year-old cross-country athlete daughter to their neighborhood and off main roads.
The organizer of the Pelican Fest Triathlon, Dennis Vanderheiden, who regularly bikes and runs in Fort Collins, said he is not changing his schedule.
“People enjoy the outdoors here,” he said. “That’s kind of what drew us to the area.”
Vanderheiden said he called off Saturday’s race in Windsor because of safety concerns and to ensure police can concentrate on the investigation.
A friend of Jacoby’s had planned to compete. But Vanderheiden assured him that Jacoby, a huge booster of high school sports who would have been cheering on competitors, will be honored in another race.
“I’ve had a lot of support for my decision, and I appreciate that,” Vanderheiden said, adding it was unlikely he would reschedule the event this year.
The annual Ride of Silence, a worldwide event to honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling, went on as planned in northern Colorado on Wednesday evening. About 100 people with black arm bands over their neon cycling jackets rode for an hour through Fort Collins — the clatter of gears and the clip of shoes the only sounds during the 8-mile route.
Debbie Bush, of Fort Collins, participated this year for the first time, motivated in part by Jacoby’s death.
“It’s worrysome,” she said. “You wonder if that could have happened to you.”
Since one of Jacoby’s brothers is a paramedic and the other is a firefighter who used to work in town, Jacoby often was at the fire station chatting about his love for the Denver Broncos and other interests, Fire Chief Herb Brady said. A hearing problem kept Jacoby from getting a driver’s license.
“He was just a really positive person you always wanted to seek out,” Brady said. “In retrospect, that was a good part of why he was here: to keep people positive.”
Part of Jacoby’s high profile in Windsor came from working at its King Soopers supermarket.
In an online memory book for Jacoby, customers recalled how he would always smile, talk about town happenings and help load groceries.
“He was a wonderful human being and will be in my heart as a role model of how to spread kindness forever,” one of them wrote.
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