William Allen "Rookie" Kruse, 55, was found dead on the flying bridge of his boat, The Rookie, at the dock at Fort Morgan Marina just before 7 a.m., Baldwin County Deputy Coroner Rod Steade said.
"He had just let his deckhands off the boat and sent them to get something," Steade said. "He was going to meet them at the fuel dock. They heard a pop and when the boat didn't come around, they went back and found him."
Baldwin County Coroner Stan Vinson said witnesses told investigators that Kruse had been upset about the loss of business caused by the closing of fishing grounds and public perceptions of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Vinson said Kruse was shot once with a handgun. He said the incident remains under investigation, but officials believe the wound was self-inflicted. A statement by the Gulf Shores Police Department said Kruse shot himself in the head.
Before the Deepwater Horizon sank, Kruse said he planned on retiring in a couple of years, said Jason Bell, who knew Kruse for 10 years and worked for him for 3 years, first as a deckhand and later as captain of the Rookie II.
"He didn't show any signs he was going to this that would have thrown up any red flags where you'd think you better keep an eye on him," Bell said. "He wasn't any more aggravated with the whole situation than any of the rest of us. "
Bell added, however, that Kruse did like to know what was going on and was particularly frustrated with the lack of straight answers coming from BP about the Vessel of Opportunity program and particularly about how he was to be paid once his 2 boats were deployed.
"It's a nightmare with just all of the paperwork and training and then waiting to get hired on top of the fact we're all stressed about losing our entire season anyway," Bell said. "I hate to say it, but I'm surprised something like this hasn't already happened."
Kruse had more than 30 years' experience in charter fishing, according to the website for his business. His boat was based at Zeke's Marina in Orange Beach.
Like some other vessels in the cleanup program, The Rookie had moved to Fort Morgan to avoid the booms set up near Perdido Pass, according to marina employees.Please click this button to share this news story ,thank you
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