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Reports of gunman's character conflict

Photo
DAVID HARDEN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
A Tucson firefighter and a Tucson police officer work outside of Robert Stewart Flores Jr.'s apartment building yesterday. Flores, who lived at the Broadway Village apartment complex, is responsible for the shooting death of three people yesterday morning.
By Rebekah Jampole
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday October 29, 2002

Neighbors of Robert Stewart Flores Jr. said they were shocked when they heard that the man they described as "a nice guy" murdered three people before taking his own life yesterday morning.

However, students and faculty remembered Flores as disrespectful and strange.

Flores lived at Broadway Village Apartments, 150 S. Eastbourne Ave., with his great dane "Bridget." His two children from a previous marriage, ages 10 and 15, visited him during summers.

"We never had any problems," said apartment manager Joe Brink. "We were all close here. I talked to him a lot and he never said a harsh word."

Some recalled seeing him only in passing, but always with a smile and a pleasant greeting.

"I am very, very shocked," said Deanna Hoxsie, a second-year pharmacy student who lived above Flores. "You don't expect people you say ╬Hi' to every day to be murderers."

Many of the neighbors at the 28-unit complex said Flores was always willing to help anyone in need, although he was shy. Most did not know he was a student at the UA.

"We never talked about school. I didn't even know he was taking classes. We just talked about our dogs and whatever came to mind," said a friend (who asked not to be named) who often went with Flores to a nearby park.

The few neighbors who were aware that Flores was a nursing student at the UA said he was always very studious and passionate about becoming a nurse. He often asked them to wish him luck before a test and was never heard complaining about his schoolwork, professors or grades.

"He would come home and tell me how he did on his tests or that he thought he did well, something like that," Brink said.

But there were some indications that Flores had another side.

Last April, either faculty or staff from the College of Nursing alerted UAPD that Flores seemed very depressed and could possibly harm someone, said Chief Anthony Daykin.

Although no calls were made regarding Flores after that incident, Gena Johnson, a fourth semester nursing student said that Flores was considered a "loner" by classmates and was often rebuked for being disrespectful.

"Bob was weird. No one liked him. He was always mouthy. He said weird things in class all the time," Johnson said.

Neighbors said they never saw that side of him.

They said they had no idea that Flores was involved in the shooting until police forced them to evacuate the building.

"I did not think it was Bob. I couldn't believe it," said Rita Ibrahim, 30. "He had a sense of humor. He always wore a bandanna like Rambo."

Flores, a Gulf War veteran, was contracted through an organization called Nurse Finders to work at the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System.

Between October 1999 and September 2002, he worked 362 days at the VA hospital, said Spencer Ralston, associate director of the health care system.

No employee or patient complaints were ever filed against Flores.

Despite his good reputation with neighbors and employers, there might have been a long history of anger that those who came in contact with him were not aware of, said Alfred Kaszniak, head of the department of psychology.

"Things build up, one disappointment or loss can be traumatic and life looks so bleak after that," Kaszniak said. "Our neighbors and close friends don't always know us that well."

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