Live Oak man shot dead during apparent drug deal

Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 1:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 11:36 p.m.

Live Oak police are investigating what appears to be a drug deal that went bad late Monday and ended with one person being shot to death.

The shooting happened at 1615 NW Hamilton Ave. shortly after 11:30 p.m., according to police spokesman Sgt. Ron Shaw. The victim was Robert Bruce Koester, 47, of 18610 181st Place, who was found dead in the laundry room of the Hamilton Avenue home. Shaw said it appeared Koester had been shot at least once.

A police official said they are still sorting out the details, but it appears that Koester and another man, Brian Van Auken, 22, of 13273 225th Road, went to the home on Hamilton Avenue to conduct a drug deal with the resident, 52-year-old Ralph Michael Ortiz.

During the drug deal, a fight began between Koester, who was armed with a revolver, and Ortiz, police said. A 16-year-old who was also at the home walked in on the fight carrying a rifle and fired at least once, hitting Koester, according to Sgt. Shaw.

Van Auken fled from the house after the shooting and was found at a nearby home a short time later, police said.

Police charged Van Auken with home invasion robbery and felony murder, and he was booked into the Suwannee County jail.

Koester’s body was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Jacksonville for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top