FREMONT — “Shooting someone in cold blood is the coward’s way,” says Mike McClelland, retired Steuben County Sheriff.
McClelland was a deputy sheriff 30 years ago when Fremont Town Marshal Bobby Moore was gunned down at his home on Spring Street in Fremont.
He was also one of the first officers on scene July 26, 1988, when Moore was killed.
McClelland said when he was elected sheriff, Moore came to offer his credentials and said if the county ever needed help to let him know and he would be there.
Moore became town marshal in 1984 after moving to Fremont in 1982.
McClelland served two, two-term spans as sheriff, from 1979-1986 and 1991-1998.
Moore had spent much of his career as a homicide detective in Washington, D.C., before moving to Fremont with his wife, Barbara, whom he met while investigating the murder of her husband, Louis Sisler.
“He was a good man and a good officer for Fremont,” McClelland said of Moore.
McClelland was working as a road officer not long before Moore was shot. One day he stopped in to talk with Moore about him potentially moving on and out of the community, well away from the area.
“The threats were getting pretty real,” McClelland said. “They needed (to be) taken more serious than he took them.”
In February 1988, Moore shot Barbara Moore in self defense. After facing an initial charge of murder, Moore was released after special prosecutors in the case determined they did not have adequate evidence to win at trial.
An April 13, 1988, article from the Herald-Republican says Moore’s residence at the time was being kept a secret and that threats had been made on his life, though Moore refused to let them interfere with his work.
In a special section printed by the Herald-Republican on July 28, 1988, it is brought up that since charges against Moore were dismissed in the shooting of his wife, others thought he also should have left town to potentially avoid such an incident as his murder.
“I think after he got off he should have moved out of town because something like this could happen and it did,” said Rick Bristle of Fremont in one of the articles in the special section.
McClelland said Moore insisted he would be fine staying in Fremont, saying the turmoil would die down.
Moore was shot just a few days later, he said.
At least two shots were fired at Moore, with two shell casings from a high-powered rifle found in the vacant lot across the street from Moore’s home.
McClelland said he and Fremont Deputy Walter Merrick both checked the lot across the street after the shooting.
It’s a death, he said, nobody deserves.
The cause of death, said information in the special section from then-Steuben County Coroner R. Lawrence “Skip” Klink, was a lacerated aorta. Both lungs were also lacerated in the shooting.
The thing that stuck in McClelland’s mind, he said, was when he went up to check Moore’s body for signs of life, he was on his back, had the keys in his hand and a cigarette still lit and burning in his mouth.
The question still to this day is, who killed Bobby Moore?