2 dead after standoff at Barona Indian casino office

Dec 29, 2009 10:31 PM


A man who was fired from his job at the Barona Resort and Casino last month burst into the tribal gaming commission's security office with a gun Tuesday and reportedly killed a man and then turned the gun on himself, according to authorities.

San Diego County sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell identified the shooter as Donnell Roberts, 38, of El Cajon, who was fired from a security job with the tribal gaming commission and was previously a casino guard. There was no phone number for an address listed for a Donnell Roberts in El Cajon.

The 10 a.m. shooting did not take place in the casino section of the popular resort 30 miles northeast of downtown San Diego.

Roberts walked in and ordered three secretaries to leave, and witnesses heard three shots, Caldwell said.

Sheriff Bill Gore says the bodies were discovered Tuesday about 2:30 p.m. when deputies sent two robots inside the office after an hours-long standoff.

Officials aren't yet releasing any details about the victim.

Earlier, Sheriff's Lt. Julie Sutton said Roberts reportedly took several people hostage when he arrived at the office, but he quickly let them go.

About 15 people left the building, Caldwell said. Sheriff's deputies, California Highway Patrol officers and tribal police surrounded the building. FBI agents also arrived.

The casino's general manager, Rick Salinas, said the casino remained open but the gaming commission offices, where about 25 people work, were evacuated.

The resort, which includes a 400-room hotel, golf course and spa, is operated by the Barona Band of Mission Indians, which is recognized by the federal government as a sovereign Indian nation.

The tribe bought the reservation property in 1932 after its original reservation land was used to build a reservoir. Tribal gaming began there in 1994 with the opening of the Barona Casino Big Top.

The gaming commission offices are located in trailers or bungalow-type buildings behind the casino.

The five-member gaming commission meets about three times a week, said Sheilla Alvarex, director of government affairs for the tribe.

Commission members are not all tribal members but they are employees of the tribal government, Salinas said.

"They are responsible for ensuring that the management team is complying with all regulations," she said.