Jones trial: Friend of victims saw bright light, heard four "pops’
The third week of NAU shooter Steven Jones trial for first-degree murder began on Tuesday with a friend of victim Colin Brough testifying. Zach Volpo stated in front of a jury that all he observed before Jones shot and killed Brough and wounded Nick Prato, Nick Piring and Kyle Zientek was a bright light and four loud pops. Volpo was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity to which the four victims belonged.
The witness recalled the early morning shooting in October 2015 started out with a party of around 50 to 75 people. He then recalled being across the street of the Mountain View dormitory parking lot when an altercation began to occur that led Jones to retrieve his handgun equipped with a tactical flashlight from his car.
I was across the street from the parking lot and a cluster of people were outside. I couldn t hear what was going on, but it was some kind of altercation, Volpo said. He continued, stating that he saw a bright LED light.
I saw this light approaching and it got my attention because it was so bright I thought it was something a police officer or security guard would use, Volpo said, referring to the moments before Jones fired his weapon. I didn t see the shots because my friend Nick Pletke distracted me and then I hear four loud pops. Volpo said that he thought the pops, were fireworks because he was not expecting a gun on a college campus so he ran over to the incident.
I ran up to the parking lot and saw my friends Nick Piring and Colin Brough on the ground, bleeding and I assumed they had been shot so I put my hands up to signal, Don t shoot, Volpo said raising his hands in front of the jury to the level of his face.
The defense went after Volpo s credibility by stating that he did not try to talk to the police at any point that night, yet he later gave a deposition.
Do you recall saying that you had a front-row seat to this incident? Jones attorney Joshua Davidson asked. In fact you thought you and Nick Pletke were critical witnesses in this case correct? Volpo responded to Davidson s question by saying that he did not think he was a critical witness, but an important one. Davidson intensified his questioning,
OK, so if you considered yourself as an information source did you ever attempt to call the police and let them know you were a witness? Davidson asked.
Volpo responded that he did not try to contact that police, assuming that they would contact him.
Did you call the police when you went to your fraternity house? Davidson asked.
No, Volpo said.
Did you try to contact the police when you were at the hospital? Davidson asked.
No, Volpo said.
You didn t see or contact any police at the hospital? Davidson asked.
No, how many times are you going to ask me the same question? Volpo said loudly as he began to move uncomfortably in his chair. Davidson went even further, at one point insinuating that Volpo and his fraternity brothers did not voluntarily talk to police as a means to protect Brough’s image.
Did you know Colin was dead at the time of the press conference? Davidson asked, referring to an early-morning NAU press conference that occurred several hours after the shooting.
When I approached the situation I assumed unfortunately that Colin was probably not going to make it, Volpo said.
So despite the belief that your brother had fallen you made no effort to contact the police? Davidson asked.
I wanted to pray and grieve with my fraternity brothers, Volpo said. Davidson then intensified his questioning.
You wanted to be with your brothers and pray or be with your brothers and get your story straight?
Volpo restated that he was with his brothers to pray. The prosecution attempted to counter the defense s questioning, stating that the trauma of the situation kept Volpo from contacting the police.
You weren t lying about what you saw that night? Coconino County Deputy Attorney Ammon Barker asked.
No, my friends and I were consoling each other, not trying to get our story straight, Volpo said. My priority was to be by my friends side and make sure everyone s spirits were high. Barker then asked what Volpo told people about the shooting before he talked to the police.
I just told people who asked that there was a shooting, Volpo said as he swayed back and forth in his chair. None of us were trying to meet up and talk in detail about the most traumatic night of our lives.
Witness testimony continues today and through the rest of the week.