Fred Stabbert III | Democrat
THE PORTICO OF the Western Hotel in Callicoon, above, is cordoned off by crime scene tape Sunday morning after a shooting death hours before.
Few answers to death at Western Hotel
By Jeanne Sager and Fred Stabbert III
CALLICOON April 15, 2008 The circumstances surrounding the tragic death of a barmaid at the Western Hotel in Callicoon are still a mystery even to police.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office have confirmed Lori Schubeler, 41, is dead.
According to the results of an autopsy performed Sunday night, she died as the result of a single gunshot wound to the upper left chest which damaged both the aorta and lung. District Attorney Steve Lungen said it was quick, but confirmed Schubeler bled to death.
She was pronounced dead at the scene by Sullivan County Coroner Alan Kesten.
Lungen has also confirmed the .25 caliber handgun was discharged around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday inside the hotel bar. Although the bar was open for business, he said there were few patrons remaining, and hotel staff were cleaning up to go home.
There were three people in the bar area at the time of the shooting, Lungen said, including Schubeler.
For now, Lungen’s remaining mum on whether the gun which he characterized as “older” but not necessarily “antique” was registered and to whom. Nor would he comment on who discharged the handgun or even how it happened.
That’s what State Police investigators and Sheriff’s deputies are trying to ascertain the real cause of the incident.
“There was a discharge of a firearm, and incident to that unfortunately we have a death,” Lungen said. “The circumstance of that discharge, whether or not there’s responsibility for that in a criminal sense or a negligence sense, is what we’re looking into.”
Recovered at the scene, Lungen said the handgun has been sent upstate to the State Police lab for additional testing.
With no answers, no arrests have been made in the case, authorities said.
“We don’t want to act precipitously; we want to know what happened,” Lungen noted.
As residents of the Delaware River hamlet awoke Sunday morning, they saw the portico of the Western Hotel wrapped in yellow crime scene tape and a host of State Police and Sullivan County Sheriff’s cruisers as well as a State Police crime scene van.
The outside of the hotel was guarded by uniformed officers throughout the day as police collected evidence and interviewed witnesses.
Remembering a talented actress
Meanwhile residents in the stunned town are mourning the loss of Schubeler, who lived a short walk away from her job at the bar on Railroad Ave. in Callicoon.
A noted thespian and singer, Schubeler was a familiar face on the stage at the Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburg.
“I just saw her the other day in Peck’s and asked her which plays she would be involved with this summer,” said fellow actress Tanya Cohen of Jeffersonville. “I was hoping we could work together again, but she said with the price of gas and the commute, she was going to pass this summer.
"I feel so privileged to have worked with Lori in ‘Glass Menagerie,’” Cohen said. “She really helped me with my own acting and gave me insightful pointers. She was a very talented actress who really took her craft seriously.”
“Lori was an incredibly gifted actress and singer and will be missed very much by her community theatre family,” added Lori Schneider-Wendt, long-time head of the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop.
“There was a magnetism and electric quality that exemplified the presence of Lori whenever she was on stage. As her director in two very successful productions, I was always taken with her ability and dynamic power on stage,” stated Syeus S. Mottel of New York City. “She was a very special person. To say she will be missed will be an understatement. With the greatest feeling of sorrow I remain in debt to Lori for her contribution to the theatre life of the area plus the joy and pleasure she expressed in her daily life.”
“We have a little town,” said Karen Zadabura, a neighbor to Schubeler and her long-time beau, Jim Heisel. “These things aren’t supposed to happen here.
“It was a blow,” she said of the loss of the neighbor who played with the Zadabura’s daughter and walked her dog down their street. “The whole town had a real blow who would think that you’d go to work one day and not come home.
“Lori was a good person, and she will be missed,” Zadabura continued. “I just hope everybody makes it through this.”
People in Callicoon spoke highly of Western Hotel proprietor Joe Naughton too.
Owner of the hotel since the late 1960s, Naughton, who could not comment on the investigation, is known for running a genteel establishment.
His tap room was a place where patrons knew better than to swear, lest they be escorted out the door, and where they made sure they kept a napkin beneath their drink.
Clad in a vest and collared shirt, his handlebar moustache neatly trimmed, Naughton kept a careful watch on the kitchen, dining room and goings on in his bar.
“He’s never had an incident in his place in all these years,” said friend Mickey Roche. “He runs a clean place.”
Even with a separate entrance from the dining room, the tap room at the Western has traditionally been the calmest bar in town.
“Everybody knows you don’t fool around in there,” Roche continued. “You could send your wife in there without a problem.”