Man killed, mom hurt in fight at senior center

A fight that began with a toy helicopter at a senior citizens' living center led to a shooting in which a man was killed and his mother was severely wounded.

Roger T. Foley II, 63, was arrested Saturday on charges of murder with a deadly weapon in the death of Ronald Wayne Mattox and the attempted murder of Betty Mattox.

According to his arrest report, Foley and Ronald Mattox, 54, were neighbors on the fourth floor of the seniors' apartment complex at 4170 Bonanza Road, near Lamb Boulevard. The two had a history of arguments, the police report said.

Foley, a relative of prominent figures in the Las Vegas legal community, told Las Vegas police that he left his apartment about 1:30 p.m. Saturday to go target shooting.

He had a 9 mm handgun in a briefcase and was pushing a cart containing extra magazines and ammunition when he encountered Ronald Mattox, who was flying a model helicopter in the hallway.

Foley told detectives that Mattox began swearing at him. Foley "may have pushed Mattox first," but Mattox then struck him in the head and face, the arrest report said.

Foley said that because he was fearful that Mattox would kill him, he took his handgun from the briefcase and fired multiple shots at Mattox, striking him in the neck and torso.

Betty Mattox told police she went to the hallway to tell her son to call police. When she turned back toward her door, she was struck in the back, she said.

Foley would not say he intentionally shot Betty Mattox. He told police he was "not sure, but he may have shot at her also," the report said.

Foley told detectives that after the shooting, he went back to his apartment, reloaded his gun and called police.

Ronald Mattox died in the hallway. Betty Mattox was shot once, and the bullet went through her arm and into her chest.

She was expected to recover, but she was listed in serious condition Monday at University Medical Center.

Foley is related to the prominent legal family of the same name, including deceased federal judges Roger T. Foley and his son, Roger D. Foley. The Foley Federal Building on Las Vegas Boulevard is named in honor of the family.

Foley also is related to Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Foley, who works in the civil division. Michael Foley could not be reached late Monday.

Because of that relationship, the district attorney's office could recuse itself from prosecuting the case, or Michael Foley could be prohibited from contact with the prosecutor or any documents and evidence associated with the case.

The district attorney's office probably won't have to make that decision until Foley's court appearance, which is scheduled for Wednesday before Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis.

Foley is being held in the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

Wayne McGartlin, president of one of the valley's local model aviation club, said flying helicopters in tight spaces is forbidden.

According to Academy of Model Aeronautics guidelines, operators are told to avoid obstacles and people.

"Going up and down the hallways and stuff, no way. That's strictly not allowed," McGartlin said.

He said he did not know Ronald Mattox, and police did not disclose what type of helicopter he may have been flying.

A model helicopter flown by serious hobbyists can have carbon fiber rotor blades between 450 and 700 millimeters. Any contact with human skin could be "very, very serious," McGartlin said.

But those are difficult to fly in tight spaces, he added.

"Even the best of pilots couldn't fly a 400 millimeter chopper in a hallway," he said. "It was probably one of those dinky little things you buy at the mall in those booths with the plastic blades."

McGartlin said even the dinky plastic helicopters produce a consistent "buzz," which can be very annoying in an apartment building where neighbors live in close quarters.

But that isn't an excuse for violence, he said.

"That sounds totally ridiculous," McGartlin said. "Why not call 911 and say it's a small domestic disturbance?"

Review-Journal writer Francis McCabe contributed to this report. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@ or 702-383-0283.