Ice cream truck driver Zyber Selimaj was reunited with his three young sons Friday after what he described as a harrowing several days, beginning with the fatal shooting of his wife Tuesday by a Henderson police officer.
The boys, Alban, 12, Azbi, 7 and Arber, 5, each clutched a basketball and stuck close to their father as they left Child Haven just after noon.
"I have to be strong for me and my kids," Selimaj, an Albanian immigrant, said through a translator, his long-time friend Fismik Boyku. "I hope this doesn't happen to anybody else. It's ruined my life."
Boyku said Selimaj on Friday told his sons that their mother, 42-year-old Deshira Selimaj, was dead.
Alban understood, Boyku said, but "the two other kids are very young. They kind of act like it's a dream."
The family's drama began Tuesday afternoon when police pulled over 65-year-old Selimaj in his ice cream truck for speeding and failing to obey a stop sign at an intersection near Coronado High School, police said.
Deshira Selimaj, also an ice cream truck driver, came to her husband's aid after police called her because he was combative and initially refused to sign a traffic citation, police said. She had two of her sons with her.
Police said that a language barrier hindered communication with the couple, but that both Zyber and Deshira Selimaj made suicidal statements during the incident.
At some point, police said, Deshira Selimaj returned to her ice cream truck, got a knife and held it to the throat of one of her sons.
Police said they tried to subdue her using Tasers but she did not drop the knife and made an aggressive move toward them. Police were able to pull the child away from the mother before Officer Luke Morrison, 23, shot the woman, who later died at a hospital.
Zyber Selimaj and his son Alban have a different version of Tuesday's events, Boyku said.
"They said she (Deshira Selimaj) was on her knees when they (police) shot her," Boyku said.
Zyber Selimaj declined to comment further Friday.
He was arrested Tuesday on two traffic violations and a charge of obstructing police. He was held in the Henderson jail until posting nearly $4,000 bail Thursday night. He had tearfully pleaded not guilty on Thursday to those charges in Henderson Municipal Court.
Selimaj's children had been in protective custody since his arrest.
He appeared in Clark County Family Court on Friday morning, after which he was granted custody of his children, said Christine Skorupski, a spokeswoman for Clark County Family Services.
She would not give further details or say whether conditions had been placed on Selimaj's custody of the boys.
Boyku said that the Selimaj family has lived in Las Vegas about 10 years and that Zyber Selimaj is a good man.
"He was very mistreated and very upset his wife was killed," Boyku said
He said he was setting up a bank account so that people could donate money to help the family.
Selimaj was cited by Henderson police in October for hitting a 14-year-old boy in the face after he told the boy there was nothing in the ice cream truck that he could buy for a dollar.
According to a court official, Selimaj pleaded no contest to the battery charge and was given a 30-day jail sentence, which was suspended with the condition he complete an anger management class and not be arrested within a year.
Morrison, who has been with the Henderson police department for two years, is on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at email@example.com or (702) 383-0285.