Arrest made in shooting of Big Bear Lake artist

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A 43-year-old artist was fatally shot following an argument that spilled outside of a Big Bear Lake bar and nightclub early Tuesday morning.

Sheriff's deputies have arrested a Big Bear store owner in the shooting death of a 43-year-old artist outside a local bar and nightclub early Tuesday.

Deputies arrested Frank Popovich, 53, owner of the Black Fox Trading Post, a shop which sells novelties, crafts and magic tricks, in the death of James Clark, 42.

Deputies said the two were acquaintances and that Popovich shot Clark during a fight outside the AV Nightclub on Pine Knot Avenue. The motive is still being investigated.

The incident happened around 1 a.m. Tuesday, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

At that time, a bartender flagged down a sheriff's deputy and said a man had been shot in the rear parking lot of the bar.

The victim was transported to Bear Valley Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be performed to determine the man's cause of death.

After conducting interviews and collecting evidence throughout the day, sheriff's deputies took Popovich into custody without incident and booked him for murder at West Valley Detention Center.

Friends identified Clark as a local artist.

"James was a great person. He had a fantastic heart and he may have been misunderstood, but he cared about everybody," said Devon Cote, the victim's friend.

Rusty Myers says he worked with Clark at Oktoberfest.

"I was quite shocked for somebody like him. He just wasn't that type of person to be known to cause any trouble with anybody," Myers said.

Friends and family have set up a makeshift memorial outside the bar that Clark was said to have frequently attended.

Chrystel Worsman had some of Clark's wood-burning art on display in her candle shop, Ohnaturel.

"I remember him as a great artist. He is really, really good. He has his work all over Big Bear," Worsman said.

Big Bear Village, where the shooting happened, is best known for its shops and restaurants, not murder investigations.

"These things just don't happen here. We just don't have that kind of stuff here," Myers said.

Anyone with information on this case was asked to contact Detective Jon Cahow at (909) 387-3589 or the Big Bear Station at (909) 866-0100.
Related Topics:
newsshootingman killedman shothomicidemurderhomicide investigationSan Bernardino CountyBig Bear Lake
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