Inn shooter was not under drug influence

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2006

Kevin Pearcey

A Louisiana man who opened fire on police officers at the Comfort Inn in January was not under the influence of drugs but was legally intoxicated, according to the state forensic sciences laboratory and Greenville police.

On Jan. 14, Wayne A. Vasquez, 50, opened fire on police when they attempted to gain entrance into his hotel room. Police were responding to a 9-11 call of a man walking through the first-floor carrying a firearm.

Officers John Bass and Lionel Davidson were injured in the shooting. Vasquez died during the initial shootout between Bass and fellow patrolman Byron Russell, who had arrived on the scene as back up.

Lt. Randy Courtney said toxicology tests conducted on Vasquez's body found no traces of drugs. He said results indicated Vasquez had been drinking, but his blood alcohol content was not much above the legally allowed limit of .08 percent.

&#8220He was legally drunk - drunk enough to receive a DUI - but not drunk enough to do what he did,” said Courtney. &#8220Apparently, he was just mentally unstable and lost it.”

Courtney said investigators found no drugs or prescription medication in Vasquez's hotel room or in his vehicle.

Vasquez was from St. Bernard, La., one the areas that received significant damage during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Police believe he was a transient who may have lost everything during the Category 3 storm that pounded the Gulf Coast.

Courtney said Vasquez' criminal record was minor.

A Butler County grand jury later deemed that the killing of Vasquez justifiable.

The ballistics report indicated that Vasquez suffered three entrance wounds to the torso and chest area. Three bullet &#8220pieces” were found in Vasquez from Russell's and Bass' firearms, according to the district attorney's office.