“My son was a fighter, you know.”
That’s how Myron Pourier Sr. described his 19-year-old son Myron Blaine, who died last Sunday after a Rapid City, South Dakota, hotel shooting that ultimately sent their community into turmoil.
Charges against a man arrested in the March 19 attack were increased this week, with Quincy Maurce Bear Robe now accused of second-degree murder. A Pennington County grand jury handed down an indictment on Wednesday.
Bear Robe previously was charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, as well as committing or attempting to commit a felony with a firearm, a second-degree felony. He is being held in the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City on a $1 million bond.
A court hearing is scheduled for April 25. John Murphy, the Rapid City lawyer representing Bear Robe, was unavailable for comment; a person who answered the phone at his office said he was “out of the country” and could not be reached.
If the tick-tock of the shooting nearly three weeks ago has not attracted much outside attention, the ugly response from those purporting to represent the hotel where it took place sparked a furious backlash.
In the wake of the shooting, a woman named Connie Uhre suggested on Facebook that the Grand Gateway Hotel—as well as Cheers, a sports bar and casino connected to the hotel—would ban all Native Americans.
“Due to the killing [sic] that took place at the Grand Gateway Hotel on March 19, 2022… we will no longer allow any Native American on property. Rancher and Travelers will receive a very special rate of $59.00 per night. Book direct.”
The post falsely suggested Pourier Jr. was already dead.
The post was later taken down, but Republican Mayor Steve Allender posted a screenshot, others shared it on social media, and things spiraled from there.
The uproar eventually led to a federal discrimination lawsuit from NDN Collective, a Rapid City nonprofit organization “dedicated to building Indigenous power,” with former U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, the son of former South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, filing the lawsuit.
Attempts to reach Connie Uhre for comment for this story were not immediately successful, and her son, general manager Nick Uhre, told The Daily Beast no such ban was in place. The family did not appear to have filed a response to the suit in the federal docket.
A march and rally were held in Rapid City on March 23 to express disgust with the racist post. Tensions have been a constant concern in the city and state, which has a 10 percent Native American population and a lengthy history of conflict between Native Americans and whites dating back to Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s illegal sojourn through the Black Hills—the sacred Paha Sapa to the Lakota—in 1874.
The shooting was a nightmare, Myron Pourier Sr. said, and seeing a racial issue follow on its heels just added to his family’s pain.
Early on, they were still hoping their son would make it through after a shooting that they said stemmed from Pourier Jr. trying to look after a female cousin. Pourier Sr. and his daughter said the female relative asked for assistance retrieving personal items, including clothes, from a hotel room.
According to a probable-cause affidavit made available to The Daily Beast, Rapid City police officers responded to the Grand Gateway Hotel at 1721 N. LaCrosse St. at approximately 4: 30 a.m. on March 18 for a possible shooting.
“When officers arrived, they located Myron Blaine Pourier Jr. with a gunshot wound,” the report from Rapid City Police Det. Andrew Randazzo states. “He was transported to the hospital and taken into emergency surgery. Myron remains in critical condition in the hospital.”
Pourier Jr. died 16 days later.
Rapid City Assistant Police Chief Scott Sitts told The Daily Beast that Officer Samantha Williams was in the hotel parking lot on a different call when a staffer for Black Hills Patrol, a private security firm, yelled to her about hearing gunshots and a fleeing suspect. Williams, who was working alone while on patrol that night, pursued Bear Robe, who was armed with a loaded .40-caliber handgun, according to court records, and made the arrest.
“During an interview, Quincy stated he shot Myron during an argument Myron was having with Quincy’s girlfriend,” the report states. “This account was corroborated by other witnesses. On scene, .40 caliber shell casings were located. The shell casings that were located matched the brand of bullets remaining in the pistol on Quincy’s person.
“A bullet was recovered from Myron during surgery. That bullet is consistent in size with a .40 caliber bullet,” the report adds.
While police were apprehending Bear Robe, a Black Hills Patrol staffer located the hotel room where the shooting had taken place and found Pourier Jr. The security officer began providing medical aid, Sitts said.
All he was doing, he was doing it for this girl, to protect her from these people. And that’s all he did. That’s all he did and he got shot for it.
Myron Pourier Sr. said his son was in the hotel as part of a birthday weekend celebration for his own girlfriend. He added that his son was a peaceful person who only went into the other hotel room to assist the cousin who was afraid to go in there.
The senior Pourier, who was not present, said that, as he understood it, his son was asked to help the young woman retrieve her clothing so she could leave. Once he set foot inside the room, Pourier said he was told, an altercation ensued.
“All he was doing, he was doing it for this girl, to protect her from these people. And that’s all he did. That’s all he did and he got shot for it,” Pourier said. “He was probably only in that room for a minute, maybe two. There’s a lot that needs to come out.”
She judged him by the color of his skin, not who he was. That woman turned it into a race war.
Even as his son eventually lost his life in the hospital, Pourier Sr., 52, noted he was still alive when Uhre made her comments.
“She judged him by the color of his skin, not who he was,” he told The Daily Beast. “That woman turned it into a race war.”
Days later, someone from the Uhre family posted a comment expressing her sorrow about his son, Pourier said, and offered to arrange a meeting between the two families. He said he was so preoccupied with his son’s battle for life, he didn’t quite grasp who sent it, and had not replied.
The Grand Gateway has announced being closed “for spring cleaning” until May 16, but General Manager Nick Uhre told The Daily Beast Friday that it was still accepting check-ins on “direct booking.”
Uhre said he—rather than his 77-year-old mother—was the hotel owner, and that no ban on Native Americans was in place. However, the federal lawsuit states that Retsel Corp does business at the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Bar and Lounge. The 2021 annual report for Retsel Corp. lists Connie Uhre as president and a director of that entity.
Nick Uhre did not respond when asked about the apparent disparity in his claim.
He said his mother made “stupid comments in anger” after the March 19 shooting, and he apologized for them. Nick Uhre said he had prayed for the Pourier family and asked people to donate to their fund to offset medical expenses.
Still, the lawsuit claims that on March 21, Connie Red Bear of Rapid City and a second Native American tried to rent a room at the Grand Gateway. They were turned away, according to the suit.
The next day, representatives of NDN Collective attempted to rent five rooms, and also were rejected, the suit claims. When they asked to speak to a manager, a person they believed to be Nick Uhre ordered them out of the hotel, following them outside and making them feel intimidated by his “threatening demeanor,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also refers to armed guards, one carrying an assault rifle, who were posted at the hotel on March 23. A photo of two men, one with a long gun, was attached.
Uhre admittedly has had an adversarial relationship with the city. In a lengthy email he submitted to local media and shared with The Daily Beast, he said murders, assaults, drug sales and use, and sex workers were common problems in the city and at the Grand Gateway. He said police and Mayor Allender, a former police chief now in his third term, have ignored these problems for years.
Uhre has asked Gov. Kristi Noem to intercede, including requesting she remove Mayor Allender from office. “Steve Allender has been looking for a way to smear me or my family because of our outspokenness regarding the agenda of the left,” Uhre wrote. Such an intervention is not possible under South Dakota law.
But Pourier Sr. was less focused on the politics than his son’s survival.
According to the father, doctors indicated after a few days that his son was brain dead, and after life-support was removed, he died at 3: 24 p.m. on Sunday, April 3.
On Friday, Pourier Sr. told The Daily Beast he wanted to put the crime and the controversy behind him. The family was pivoting to his son’s journey to the Spirit World, he said, adding that he wanted to remember the gentle, loving young man who shared prayers with him as they hiked up Black Elk Peak. The highest point in South Dakota, the area is named for revered Lakota holy man Black Elk, a relative of the Pourier family.
He’s still thinking about his son—not any racist hoteliers. Pourier said his son had smiled as he told his dad that he was headed to Rapid City to play volleyball and spend time with his girlfriend. It was the last time he ever saw him.
“He was enjoying life,” Pourier said. “Doing what he loved to do.”