KALAMAZOO, Mich. – (April 17, 2014) We’re learning more about the man who was shot and killed at the Wayside West bar in Kalamazoo.
The victim is Damian Tejada, 23, of Kalamazoo.
Witnesses say he ran from the shooter who was firing at him as he tried to hide under a poker table before he was fatally wounded.
It was around 1:30 am Thursday when chaos erupted inside a smaller room that’s used for charity poker events.
John Bolenbaugh, who was a regular for card night at the bar on Wednesdays, was nearly hit by bullets as the victim tried to run to get away.
“The shooter that was chasing him down was shooting as he was running after him,” he said. “Then he stood over him and shot him til the clip was empty. I was within a couple feet, scared for my life, and the only thing I could think of is my baby I might never see and my wife.”
The two men were both regulars at Wednesday night charity poker when the bullets flew.
The organizer of that event, could be seen coming up from under a counter where she dove for shelter.
Bolenbaugh said that he was sitting at the poker table when Damian ran behind him, trying to get away.
“He ran around me to get there, so that’s when he’s shooting at him, he’s shooting at me, thank God nothing hit me,” said Bolenbaugh.
The patrons at the bar could be seen shoving the poker table out of the way to aid Damian.
Bolenbaugh walked us through how far the shooter ran to get at Damian and how close he was to losing his own life.
“He’s got to run where the opening is at Wayside past me to get underneath the table for protection,” said Bolenbaugh. “It’s a blessing from God I didn’t get shot.”
“I crouched down like this and I ‘m a few feet from him and he’s right behind my chair.”
“He went Boom boom boom until the clip was empty when the clip was empty he yelled at him and I took my jacket off and went over and held him,” he said.
Bolenbaugh knew Damian from card nights at the bar and had just bought an SUV from one of his family members who wanted him to share the video to get justice for Damian.
“He’s a nice guy. Him and his girlfriend come in and we play cards. He’s always smiling. He’s a nice person, nice guy. I’ve never heard of anything negative in the last year that I’ve been playing. He’s a good guy as far as I know and I don’t understand,” said Bolenbaugh.
Girlfriend Kia Smith shares a young daughter with Damian.
She was also at the bar and watched him pass away.
“I’m heartbroken for her,” said Bolenbaugh.
Smith’s Facebook page was full of messages, telling her to stay strong for their daughter.
Damian’s cousin, Sierra Allen , said Damian grew up in the Kalamazoo area although his mother, brother and sister now live in Georgia.
She was too broken up to go on camera, but she did tell us, “Damian was a sweet guy and funny. He didn’t deserve this. I don’t know what happened.”
His sister wrote on her Facebook page, “Not my brother God, not my brother.”
“Why would anyone shoot somebody else that’’s unarmed, running away,” said Bolenbaugh. “I’ll never forget it. I can’t sleep now.”
Although it’s been confirmed that the shooter was an employee at Wayside West and patrons tell us he was a bouncer, it’s unclear whether he was working the evening of the shooting.
Wayside West staff couldn’t comment on that, they said due to the ongoing investigation.
The owner did release this statement: