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thedrifter
06-16-03, 06:02 AM
Police: Iraq remark led to killing

By Jon Burstein
Staff Writer
Posted June 14 2003

It began as an unremarkable Sunday night at Margarita's. Three customers drank at the small Lake Worth bar while the manager sat watching television updates on the fourth day of the Iraq war.

The conversation naturally turned to the war. Former U.S. Marine Ronald Mellor, who had been downing Smirnoff vodka and tonics, sparked the discussion by talking about the possible execution of American prisoners of war.

Within a half-hour, bar manager John Komyakevich's bullet-riddled body lay near Margarita's back door. Witnesses said Mellor, 61, killed him after becoming upset with the Russian immigrant's comments on the war.

Court documents released this week detail the events that led up to Komyakevich's March 23 death and Mellor's arrest minutes later. Witnesses said Mellor stormed out of the bar after getting angry with Komyakevich, 33, and then burst back in minutes later with a semiautomatic handgun.

"I saw the gun come up and he just ... just fired and fired and fired," said bartender Walter Peretto. "John had gotten up and he was walking towards the back of the bar and I heard him ... I heard him like scream a little bit and then he ... he just went down."

Mellor then fled. He told police later that night, "I found out today how effective a 9 mm bullet is."

Mellor has been charged with second-degree murder and could face a life sentence if convicted. He has been in the Palm Beach County Jail without bond since his arrest.

Peretto told police Mellor had been drinking for a couple hours when Komyakevich came in, sat at the end of the bar and began watching television. When Mellor mentioned the possible execution of prisoners of war, Komyakevich responded.

"The victim said something like, `Well, that's just part of war,'" Peretto said. "I mean he was saying that we invaded ... and this is what happens in war. You know ... it's just you got to expect it."

That prompted Mellor to rail on Komyakevich, asking him what he was doing in the United States, Peretto said. Komyakevich refused to back down though.

Bar customer Michael Morales said he "never saw anybody that was so intense about this war with Iraq" as Mellor.

Mellor came at the bar manager, but Peretto said he jumped between them.

"I'm keeping them at arm's distance," Peretto said. "John never got out of his seat, but the other guy ... he wanted to come up and hit him. He really wanted to hit him."

Komyakevich ordered Mellor to leave. Peretto said Komyakevich never had a chance when Mellor walked through the front door about 10 minutes later and started firing. Komyakevich was dead by the time police arrived. Autopsy reports show he was shot seven times, including four times in the back.

Bar customer Frank Mace Jr., who was a half-dozen stools away from Komyakevich, said he had known Mellor for five years and "always thought he was a little nutty."

"Ron was being a troublemaker," Mace told police. "He's stirred up trouble in other places in town I'm sure."

Mellor's attorney has filed paperwork indicating the Lake Worth civil engineer intends to use an insanity defense if the case goes to trial.

"I think he was overcome by emotion at the time regarding our troops in Iraq," said Randy Berman, Mellor's attorney. "When you talk about it in relation to the terror attack of 9-11, you're talking about exacerbation of those emotions."

One mental health expert already has examined Mellor's mental state and Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Richard Wennet has ordered two others to evaluate him. Berman declined to discuss the first expert's report, which is kept in confidential court files.

After the shooting, Mellor drove home and called 911, according to court records.

"My name is Ron Mellor," he began the call. "I live at 931 North J Street. I just shot a man."

When a dispatcher asked why, he responded, "Because he was very anti ... very ... very anti-American and he was very against the war."

Mellor surrendered to police minutes later. He said Komyakevich got him upset after the bar manager made comments that he thought the U.S. was wrong for going to war against Iraq and took pleasure in U.S. soldiers getting captured.

"I let him have it," Mellor told police.

Jon Burstein can be reached at jburstein@sun-sentinel.com or 561-832-2895.







Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-pmellor14jun14,0,1048922.story?coll=sfla-news-palm


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