Update: Jan 1, 2014 by Francis Cebedo
Police used a bomb squad robot similar to this one to enter Morningstar’s home.
According to updates in The Bakersfield Californian, Paul Morningstar died of a gunshot wound, most likely from one of his booby trapped ‘bombs’ in his own home. Paul was seen biking to the post office by his neighbor Ted Brummer and later that evening, Ted who was busy with friends heard an ‘explosion or bang’ from Paul’s home. Ted knocked on the door and several windows two days later and when he could not get a response, notified authorities.
Warned of possible booby traps, police used a bomb-squad robot to enter the house. They discovered three bobby-traps, one of which was a shotgun triggered by mousetraps that seemed to have fired and caused Paul’s death.
Morningstar lived in Bodfish, CA, a small town east of Bakersfield.
According to Ted Brummer, Paul was a good natured guy but with very firm beliefs about protecting nature and wildlife coupled with some strong feelings about politics. Paul also believed that someone, a specific person, was out to kill him. It was this particular paranoia that led him to start booby-trapping his own home. It started with a flare and a trip wire between the kitchen and the garage and then led to shotguns and mousetrap devices.
In the bike industry, Paul Morningstar was known as genius and a problem solver. In an age where tools are sleek, refined and mass produced by big companies, Paul found a niche in designing and making his own tools that solve specific problems. His Drumstix and Rim Rench are examples where one straightens out a bent rim and the other a warped or bent disc brake rotor. These are common problems in cycling but few tools exist that solve these problems like the Morningstar tools.
Morningstar ROC Tech Tool.
According to his customers at Mtbr.com, Paul was kind and personable over the phone and email. He loved to talk and help solve issues whenever he had the opportunity. He even had a booth at the vintage bike pilgrimage called the Keyesville Classic bike race. Here, Paul sold his tools and fixed any bike issue for free.
But he did have a paranoid side. His friend John who spoke with him weekly said that Morningstar believed that a guy was out to kill him for the last eight years. John tried to convince him otherwise and of seeking legal and police help about this issue to no avail. Morningstar contacted the DA and local police to help him keep this guy away from him but it’s possible the police wrote him off as delusional.
So it is likely his own fears killed him in this unfortunate incident. But as his friend Paul put it nicely, “he was a great mechanic and problem solver”. And customer Mike Tierney said that Paul had a heart of gold as he sent used stamps from all over the world to Mike’s wife who was a stamp collector. RIP Paul Morningstar.
Dec. 26, 2013 by Don Palermini
This photo of toolmaker Paul Morningstar is from his website. Morningstar was found dead in his Bodfish, Calif. home on Saturday.
The Bakersfield Californian newspaper is reporting that bicycle toolmaker Paul Morningstar was found dead Saturday in his Bodfish, Calif. home that had been booby trapped with several bombs. Acting on a concerned neighbor’s tip about Morningstar’s wellbeing–and that his property might be booby trapped–police approached the situation with caution sending bomb squad robots into the home after getting no response on attempts to make contact. Officials have found at least four explosive devices on the property and continue to search for more.
Morningstar, whose tools like the Freehub Buddy–a tool for injecting grease in freehub bodies–and the Rim ‘Rench–a tool for straightening bent rim beads, enjoy a cult-like following of professional and home mechanics alike, and are still widely available in bike shops and online. A well-known tool and die maker in the area, Morningstar is presumed to have built the explosive devices.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Police have not yet released a cause of death in the incident, and Morningstar’s exact age is unknown. According to the morningstartools.com website, he was originally from Chicago and studied electrical systems and tool and die making in college.
A message of sympathy from Morningstar’s webmaster Martin Simard, a contractor from Quebec City, Canada now appears on the company’s homepage.
Bodfish is a town of 1,956 people located 32 miles east-northeast of Bakersfield. It sits in the Lake Isabella basin not far from the mountain bike destination of Kernville at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.