Longform

Killing Time at Shadow Mountain High

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One police officer recalls throwing him out of Paradise Valley Mall on two separate occasions just for daring to show his face there. Mall security apparently knew him by reputation--and by sight. And just a few weeks ago, he was thrown out of Burger King on 32nd Street near Cactus, for dumping salt out of salt shakers; then he lurked in the parking lot until the restaurant manager called police.

And though Chris' attorney claims that he no longer runs with the group of lost boys that called itself Piru Blood, neighborhood kids have reported seeing him with them during his bail. Parents of those other boys in the would-be gang do not understand why their sons act as they do.

Coni Schelling, whose two sons run with Chris Colombi, claims that the parents of the boys have sat them down in a group and asked, "What's going on with you guys? Why so much anger with other kids?"

Neither Chris' nor Ryan Winn's friends seem to know why the two boys had been cultivating a grudge for so many months. Rumors floated that Chris had stolen a stereo out of Ryan's car, but Ryan's parents say that didn't happen.

Ryan had apparently been acquainted with Chris' younger sister Jamie, a pretty and athletic girl who used to attend Shadow Mountain, and who is known to be as sweet as her brother is not. Ryan had given her rides home after school, and had once attended a party at her house while Chris was present.

In police reports, both Chris' and Ryan's friends say that Ryan took a dislike to Chris at that party and later trashed him around town, calling him a "punk ass" among other things.

Last March 18, there was a confrontation between the two boys at Shadow Mountain, and whether Chris sought out Ryan to confront him, or just ran into him by chance while dropping off his sister, is open to interpretation. They argued, Chris allegedly called Ryan out for a fight right then and there, and Ryan told him he'd meet him after school.

Chris didn't show for the after-hours fight, so an enraged Ryan jumped in his car and drove to Chris' house--followed by several of his friends--and stood in the front yard shouting for Chris to come outside to fight. Chris stayed in the house while his mother called police.

Ryan's parents never heard a word about it.
"We never knew of Chris Colombi," says Loretta Winn. "We never knew a Jamie Colombi. And when people would call, we would ask who they were."

And, improbably, many of Ryan's best friends claim they never knew that there was an ongoing dispute between the boys, let alone one that was leading to killing.

Just like Ryan Winn, Chris Colombi told his mother he was going out to watch the Fourth of July fireworks display. He took Jamie with him, and they went to pick up Chris' friend Naaman Haynes, then gathered with other teens at an apartment near Cave Creek and Sweetwater roads.

Chris, Jamie, Haynes, another young man named Philemon Ingram, and two brothers, Travis and Justin Schelling, got in Chris' mother's car and headed for the party.

On the short ride there, according to witness accounts in the police reports, Travis, the older of the Schelling boys, argued with his younger brother about going to the party, telling him that walking into a yard full of jocks would be nothing but trouble, since they had had problems with jocks in the past.

Finally, Jamie Colombi and Travis got out of the car and walked back tothe apartments without attending the party.

Chris and his friends had already been drinking beer. They paid their way into the party, bought some marijuana there, and sat in their car and smoked it. Then they went back to the yard where Chris Colombi committed the desperate act of shooting another boy in front of more than 50 witnesses who knew his name.

After the shooting, some of the boys ran back to the apartment; Chris drove. When he got there, Justin later told his mother a detail that could show premeditation on Chris' part.

According to Coni Schelling, Travis had asked Chris, "Did you shoot him?" or "Did you get him?"

Chris responded by pantomiming the way that Ryan fell.
Later, under police interrogation, neither of the Schelling brothers would admit that that conversation ever occurred, but Coni Schelling, their mother, holds fast to her story.

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Michael Kiefer