HAYDEN, Idaho — A man who inspired a 2014 movie about drug smuggling set in Coeur d'Alene was killed in a shooting outside of a Hayden, Idaho bar on Sunday.
A Kootenai County Sheriff's Office detective has confirmed the victim, 45-year-old Michael "Topher" Christopher Clark, was the subject of a movie about a drug-selling duo called "Kid Cannabis."
Kid Cannabis is a 2014 movie that profiles the true story of two Coeur d'Alene residents, Nate Norman and Topher Clark, who smuggled marijuana across the Canadian border and sold millions of dollars worth of drugs before being caught and sentenced to prison. The pair's story was also the subject of several articles, including pieces in the Inlander and Rolling Stone.
Both Clark and Norman had previously been released for the drug-related offenses.
Clark was shot on Feb. 24 at the Tipsy Pine Bar. Deputies received a call about the shooting at about 1:40 a.m., according to Kootenai County Sheriff Detective Dennis Stinebaugh.
The suspect has been identified as 33-year-old Scott M. White of Coeur d'Alene.
Vigil planned for Friday
Friends of Clark told KREM that a vigil was being planned for Independence Point on Friday. Many commented online that Clark was remembered as a devoted friend who helped others.
"Anyone who knows him knows that they can call on him and he could be right there," said Anton Hale, a friend of Clark's. "I think he's loved by thousands of people because he's helped thousands of people."
According to Hale, Clark worked on cars and had a passion for airbrushing art on vehicles. "He was a creator," Hale said. "his art really reflected in his painting and his airbrushing." Clark was deeply involved in North Idaho's "hot rod" and car scene as well.
Hale added that he and Clark crossed paths growing up but later reconnected in adulthood through mutual friends. "I broke down in tears and really wanted more answers. It's very unexpected," Hale said when he learned of Clark's passing.
Events leading to shooting
Witnesses told deputies that Clark and White were involved in a verbal altercation at the bar before they went to the parking lot, where the shooting happened.
According to police records, witnesses have given two different versions of the events leading up to the shooting.
A bartender and a friend of Clark told police that White entered the bar with his girlfriend. White sat behind Clark and two others and he addressed Clark by name. This allegedly led to Clark being alarmed by this as he did not know White.
The bartender and Clark's friend said the two then got into a fight inside the bar, resulting in a bartender asking White to leave. Clark then allegedly followed White to the parking lot, where the fight that would lead to the shooting occurred.
The other version of events told by witnesses, including the suspect's girlfriend, said that White was playing songs from a jukebox in the bar and singing loudly, prompting Clark to ask him to stop and leave, according to the records. This allegedly led to a fight inside the bar that continued into the parking lot after White left, witnesses said.
A man interviewed by police said Clark told him he thought a "hit" had been put out on him. Detectives did not provide further details about this in their notes
An armed bar patron went into the parking lot and detained White until deputies arrived, Stinebaugh said.
Upon arriving on scene at the Tipsy Pine Bar, deputies found Clark lying in the parking lot, Stinebaugh said. Clark was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
An officer who viewed Clark's body after he was pronounced dead noted four puncture wounds, including one to his stomach near his belly button, one on the small of his back, one on the right side of his chest and one above his right elbow.
During his interview with detectives after the shooting, White said he had problems with alcohol since he was young and that he would always carry a gun with him, but that he would sometimes place his gun in his girlfriend's purse when out.
White has a concealed weapons permit. During his interview, he told detectives he was having trouble remembering details of the night, but that he remembered ordering a drink then being in an altercation in the parking lot.
White also told detectives he felt like he was being pursued and that "there's a reason I drew and shot, but right now I don't remember."
Upon arrival for his interview, police noted injuries and abrasions to White's elbows, face, top of his head and both hands.
White was arrested on a second-degree murder charged and booked into the Kootenai County Jail.
The charge has since been upgraded to first-degree murder. White is being held on $1 million bail.
Flowers have been left outside of the bar as of Sunday afternoon in honor of Clark.