In Brief


Cooking fire started blaze, authorities say

Wednesday's blaze at the historic Fifth Street School in downtown Las Vegas was started by small cooking fire, the Las Vegas Fire Department said Thursday.

Gary Duane Tamborrino, 52, started the fire about 6 p.m. in the courtyard of the school at the intersection of Clark Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, authorities alleged. The flames climbed into the attic and caused about $250,000 in damage.

Investigators ruled the fire accidental, but Tamborrino was arrested for trespassing on city property.

The school is under renovation because it is being turned into a city arts and cultural center.


Police officer chases, shoots robbery suspect

A Las Vegas police officer shot and wounded an armed robbery suspect early Thursday after a chase on foot.

Homicide Lt. Lew Roberts said the suspect was in serious but stable condition at University Medical Center.

The man was shot shortly after robbing a Rebel gasoline station at 6720 W. Flamingo Road, near Rainbow Boulevard, about 6:15 a.m., Roberts said. The officer was responding to the call when he saw the robber and gave chase, Roberts said.

The pursuit entered an alley behind a shopping center. The robber and the officer got into a physical confrontation when the robber tried to carjack a driver, Roberts said, and the officer fired one shot, hitting the suspect.

Police did not release the name of the robbery suspect, and police policy prevents the release of the officer's name until 48 hours after the incident. HIT-AND-RUN

Vehicle strikes, kills man, 49, on sidewalk

A 49-year-old man was killed early Thursday after being struck by a vehicle while he was walking on a Flamingo Road sidewalk, near Eastern Avenue.

The man was walking eastbound at 1:07 a.m. near the 2700 block of Flamingo when a vehicle, also traveling eastbound, drove onto the sidewalk and hit him.

The driver of the automobile fled the scene, leaving the man to die, police said. The pedestrian was pronounced dead when medical personnel arrived.

The Clark County coroner's office will identify the man pending notification of his next of kin.

The accident remained under investigation ,and police were trying to identify the driver and his vehicle.

Anyone who might have witnessed the crash is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 385-5555 or detectives in Las Vegas police's traffic fatal bureau at 828-3121.


Jury finds shooter innocent of murder

A Lake Havasu City, Ariz., man who shot and killed his friend in November 2006 was acquitted at trial Wednesday.

A Mohave County Superior Court jury deliberated 45 minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty in the second-degree murder trial of Humberto Morales Ruiz, 38.

Public defender Carlene Lacy contended that Ruiz thought Rito Valdez, 34, was armed when he shot him in self-defense during an argument in Lake Havasu.

Prosecutor Jeremy Huss countered that investigators never found the victim's weapon and that Ruiz' evasive actions after the shooting were not those of a man who simply defended himself.

After the verdict, Ruiz was returned to jail in Kingman, where he awaits trial in an unrelated drug case.


Judge sentences man to 18-years in prison

A defendant in the August 2005 robbery-related murder of a Kingman, Ariz., teenager received on Thursday the maximum sentence possible under terms of a plea agreement.

Larry Gene Tate, 42, of Kingman was given an 18-year prison term for second-degree murder in the choking and stabbing death of Christopher Marcus, 18, whose body was never found.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge James Chavez rejected defense attorney Rick Williams' argument that Tate was only a "minor player" in Marcus' death.

Marcus was targeted for robbery after he received about $6,000 from an insurance settlement.

Shannon Blair, 34, of Golden Valley cut a deal with the state to testify in the case and is serving a six-year prison term for her role. Trials are pending for David Srout and Mike Withers, both of Kingman.


Air Force reports crash of Predator spy plane

A remotely piloted MQ-1 Predator spy plane crashed Thursday in an unpopulated area of Iraq, Air Force officials at U.S. Central Command in Southwest Asia said in a news release.

The release, sent in an e-mail message with a dateline of Ali Air Base, Iraq, said a board will investigate the incident.

Airmen from Creech Air Force Base, at Indian Springs, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, have been deployed to Ali Air Base to conduct Predator operations.

The 407th Air Expeditionary Group started 24-hour operations Nov. 1 to launch and recover armed reconnaissance Predators in the war zone, according to a recently released Air Force report out of Ali Air Base.


Energy Office official quits amid controversy

Joe Enge, recently hired as deputy director of the Nevada Governor's Energy Office, has resigned after news accounts focusing on his job experience and driving record.

Hatice Gecol, head of the office, confirmed Thursday that Enge had resigned from the nearly $65,000-a-year state job, which he started Nov. 12.

Gecol had said previously that Enge, a member of the Carson City school board, was the best qualified of three finalists for the deputy position though he is not an engineer but a government and history teacher by profession.

Enge had said that, besides his teaching experience, he was an analyst for the Nevada Policy Research Institute. He acknowledged that controversy occurred during his teaching stint in Carson City, which ended with him getting an undisclosed settlement.

He had two DUI convictions more than 10 years ago, beat a DUI charge in 2005 and recently ran his car into a fence and left the scene.


Second suspect pleads guilty in L.A. dog heist

A second man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Los Angeles to a robbery in which purebred Yorkshire terrier puppies were stolen at gunpoint from their owners' home.

Troy Cabral, 24, pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree residential robbery and assault with a firearm, Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Loveman said.

Cabral faces eight years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 10.

Three puppies that had been advertised for $2,500 each and an adult dog were taken in the Feb. 23 robbery.

Authorities said the two robbers came to the residence and said they wanted to see the puppies, then returned later in the day and rushed inside when the door was opened. The dogs later were recovered.

The other defendant, Ryan Jason Betton, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery earlier this year and was going to testify at Cabral's trial, the district attorney's office said.