An officer who stopped at a 7-Eleven for a drink early Tuesday shot a man trying to rob the store, according to Las Vegas police.
The attempt was foiled when an officer pulled his squad car into the convenience store parking lot at Lake Mead and Jones boulevards in the northwest valley. Two people ran from the store and told him there was a robbery in progress, said officer Laura Meltzer, a police spokeswoman.
The officer stepped inside and saw a suspect, later identified as 19-year-old Lawrence Howard, with a T-shirt pulled over his face and pointing a .38-caliber handgun at the clerk.
Police released a statement Tuesday afternoon that said Howard turned toward the officer with the handgun. The officer fired "several rounds," striking Howard.
"The investigation is still ongoing, but it appears the officer was in the right place at the right time," Meltzer said.
Howard was taken to University Medical Center and was in critical condition after undergoing surgery, Meltzer said. He was booked in absentia on charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon.
A second suspect involved in the robbery, an unidentified 17-year-old male, also was arrested after a search of the convenience store. The unarmed juvenile was booked into the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center on recommended charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery. It is up to the district attorney's office to decide how he will be charged.
The clerk involved in the hold-up was taken to the hospital after having breathing problems or a panic attack, police said.
The name of the officer will be released 48 hours after the shooting, per department policy.
The incident was the sixth officer-involved shooting this year. The five previous shootings in 2012 mark the department's fewest in a six-month period in a decade.
Meltzer said incidents of police officers happening upon ongoing crimes during their nightly routines are not uncommon.
"It's only routine until it's not routine," she said.
Review-Journal reporter Ben Frederickson contributed to this report. Contact Kyle Potter at kpotter@reviewjournal .com or 702-383-0391. Contact Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283.