A 63-year-old man who was fatally shot Tuesday morning after exchanging gunfire with Henderson police officers drove to the scene on his motorcycle with a rifle and three handguns, then “ambushed” a female officer, police said.
The man shot at her squad car point blank as she was “simply sitting” inside it, Keith Paul, a spokesman for the department, said at a news conference after the 8 a.m. shooting at Boulder Highway and College Drive.
Undercover Henderson officers in unmarked squad cars spent all day Tuesday keeping watch on the man’s house and served a search warrant in the evening, Paul said.
The man’s name was not released because his next of kin had not yet been notified, the Clark County coroner’s office said.
Bruce Boyd, a neighbor, said a SWAT team was outside the man’s house on a megaphone about 4:30 p.m. calling for someone to come out “with your hands up.”
“They’re playing it like somebody’s inside,” said Boyd, who added that he knew the man and wishes he had talked with him more when he’d see him on his driveway getting the newspaper.
“He was a semi-reclusive guy, but he was nonconfrontational,” Boyd said. “I was shocked to hear that he had all those guns because he never came across as a ‘gun rights’ kind of guy.”
A few neighbors said that on the rare times they saw him, he was on his motorcycle — with his long, gray ponytail showing.
“I remember meeting him about 15 years ago at a neighborhood watch meeting,” said Melinda Brady, a neighbor who lives a few houses down. “But other than that, I never spoke to him or had a conversation with him.”
Melanie Payne, who has lived in her house since 1980, said her inner circle would jokingly refer to the man as “the Unabomber,” a Montana recluse who was engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign from 1978 to 1995.
“It’s a shame what happened,” Payne said.
The man’s house is just shy of four miles from the scene of the shooting.
Several squad cars from the Henderson police department had been called to Boulder Highway and Horizon Drive — a nearby intersection — about 4 a.m. to reroute traffic after a 75-year-old pedestrian was fatally struck by a motorist as he tried to cross Boulder Highway.
The gunman walked across the median of Boulder Highway at College Drive and began firing at an officer’s marked police car, striking the rear driver’s side window, Paul said.
“She was simply sitting in her car when a bullet shattered her window,” Paul said.
At first, the officer thought she heard “firecrackers,” but when the window shattered behind her, she pulled forward and called for backup.
Responding officers, who were just a few blocks away, chased the man in their cruisers.
When they caught up to him, he opened fired again, striking their vehicles multiple times, Paul said.
Officers fired back.
“It was very clear that he was shooting at our officers,” Paul said.
The man was taken to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, where he later died. It was not known how many times he was shot.
Nearby residents woke up inside their apartment complexes to yellow crime scene tape as officers investigated the shooting.
One man was en route with his children to the 7-Eleven for their morning Slurpies when they were stopped.
“I moved here to get away from this kind of stuff,” said George McKinney, who recently moved to Henderson from North Las Vegas. “It’s crazy. It’s crazy when somebody just comes up out of the blue and starts shooting at you and you don’t even know it’s coming. There’s just no way you can protect yourself.”
The names of the officers involved in the shooting will be released within 48 hours. No officers were hit.
The area around College Drive and Boulder Highway was shut down for 12 hours Tuesday, according to the Regional Transportation Commission.
Police say the pedestrian who was struck died at the scene and was 300 feet from the nearest crosswalk.
A 79-year-old woman driving a 2002 Acura was not at fault, and speed was not a factor, Paul said.
This was the first officer-involved shooting for the Henderson Police Department this year.
Contact reporter Tom Ragan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512.