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Intervening In Robbery For Second Time, Man Shot Dead

September 29, 1988

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ A 67-year-old widower who intervened in a pair of robberies just hours apart Wednesday was beaten by the first robber and shot dead by the second, police said.

Joseph William Riegler was killed outside The Table tavern in northeast Portland by a man who walked into the tavern with a knife, cut the cord on the cash register and walked out with the machine.

Just hours earlier, Riegler was beaten by a man who robbed another tavern. Police said the incidents apparently were unrelated.

″It’s the ultimate hard-luck story,″ said police Det. Steve Baumgarte. ″He’s at the first tavern when some guy comes in and robs the place. He tries to stop him and gets pistol whipped.

″He goes to the hospital, is treated and released. He ends up at a second tavern and that place is robbed,″ Baumgarte said.

″Against the warnings of the other patrons, he gets involved. He follows the robber outside and is shot in the head.″

Baumgarte said police had no suspects in the robberies and the killing. The man who killed Riegler wore a ski mask and the description of his getaway car was vague.

Friends said Riegler, a regular known as ″Old Joe″ at both taverns, took the robberies personally.

″He felt someone was breaking into his home,″ said George Dixon, owner of The Cracker Box tavern, scene of the first robbery. ″He liked coming in here. He was content to have a beer or two and just visit with friends.

″He belonged to what we call the old crowd,″ Dixon said. ″It was a group of guys that have been going to a bar in Parkrose and when they tore that down, they all came here. My place was a meeting place, not a place to get drunk.″

In the wake of the killing, Dixon said he was considering closing his tavern.

″My feelings are right now that I’m going to lock this place up and close the sucker down for good. But when his funeral is over,″ Dixon said, ″I’m going to open it up one more time.

″I’m going to invite all his friends in, and we’ll drink a toast to him. It won’t cost anyone a dime. It’ll be on me.″

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