A few years ago, when Erik Scott found himself unemployed in the midst of Las Vegas' deepest recession, his father worried about where his son would find work.
But Erik just laughed. He never worried. The West Point graduate told his father he would get a haircut, buy a suit and look for a new job.
"We always laughed about the Erik Scott luck," his father, Bill Scott, said Thursday. "It just always seemed to go his way until July 10, 2010. It went totally against him."
Bill Scott, a former Air Force colonel, and a journalist and author, said his son's death at the hands of three Las Vegas police officers in front of a Costco store Saturday would give voice to other citizens killed by police.
"There are a lot of people who have been killed in Las Vegas, a lot of them by the police," he said. "They didn't have a voice. This time, quote me: they killed the wrong guy."
Scott, 63, of Colorado Springs, Colo., called for greater police accountability and openness in the wake of his son's death. He said officer-involved shootings should be reviewed by third parties, and that Clark County's coroner inquest process should be reformed.
The inquest process has been heavily criticized by local advocates, including the ACLU, because only once in its 34-year history has an inquest jury not found an officer's actions justified or excusable. Bill Scott did not state specifically how he would change the process.
"The bottom line is I have a hell of a lot of questions,'' he said in an interview at the Review-Journal. "The sub-bottom line is the citizens of Las Vegas should have even more questions than I do."
Police, citing an ongoing investigation, have not released the recording of the 911 call from a Costco employee to police. Nor have they obtained video of the incident from the store's surveillance cameras. They declined to comment for this story.
Police have said they have spoken to 40 witnesses and more than a dozen said they saw Erik Scott pull out a handgun. But police also say the 38-year-old man also pointed the weapon ---- one of two he carried as a concealed weapons permit holder ---- at officers who responded to reports of an armed man acting erratically in the store.
The Review-Journal has interviewed seven incident witnesses. Three said Scott drew the gun in front of the officers but none said they saw him point it at them.
"You can see him lift up his shirt as if to say, 'Yeah, I've got a gun on me,' and then he pulls it out," said Chris Villareale, a 51-year-old real estate developer who said he was interviewed by police afterward.
Bill Scott has gone to the Costco store and been to the aisle where a Costco employee confronted Erik Scott. He said his son was crouched in the aisle trying to determine how many aluminum water bottles would fit into a fabric cooler when an employee confronted him. The employee spotted the gun on Erik Scott's hip and told him he couldn't have it in the store, according to the father.
Police said the man was "acting erratically" and "destroying merchandise" in the store, but Bill Scott said he has been told by his son's girlfriend and others that the interaction with the employee was cordial, and the employee even helped load the bottles into the cart.
His son debated with his girlfriend about whether he should put his weapon in his car and return to the store, but decided to simply finish quickly and leave.
Shortly after that, the store was evacuated, and Erik Scott exited the store, where three officers with their weapons drawn were waiting for him. Bill Scott said he doesn't know what happened during the confrontation with police.
Witnesses interviewed by the Review-Journal don't agree on what they heard officers say. Some heard "Drop it," while others heard "Get on the ground."
He said he can understand how his son would be confused if officers were telling him different things. He could picture himself getting confused.
"Imagine how many times this ugly movie has played in my mind in the last few days," he said.
Services have been scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Las Vegas Country Club at 3000 Joe W. Brown Drive, near Desert Inn and Paradise roads. The services are open to the public.
Erik Bert Scott was born at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif. on April 23, 1972. Bill Scott said his son was an enthusiastic boy with a mischievous streak who did well in school. His parents were relieved when he chose to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
It was there that he learned the meaning of stress.
"You don't graduate from West Point unless you can handle stress," said 38-year-old Alex Seifert, a classmate. "It's preparing you for the stress of war. That's why everybody coming out of West Point is pretty confident of who you are and what you can and can't do."
Erik Scott played football his freshman year ---- not necessarily because he loved football, but because members of the team were allowed to eat meals without someone screaming in their ears on every bite, Bill Scott said.
He graduated in 1994 in the top 10 percent of his class and made the dean's list while majoring in Spanish, his father said. He became a tank commander, but he left the Army just two years later as the military began its post-Cold War contraction.
In Las Vegas, he sold medical devices and dabbled in real estate. He was a sales director for One Queensridge Place, a luxury high-rise condominium development in Summerlin, according to his father. But when the units were sold and the economy shriveled, he went to selling pacemakers for Boston Scientific, a maker of medical devices.
The job was demanding and involved working closely with patients. Dr. Zia Khan, a cardiologist, said Erik Scott was in his office once a week to check on his patients' pacemakers. He was "always nice and polite," Khan said.
"In the medical field, you hear the gossip on everybody," he added. "For Erik, there was nothing that I knew."
Over the years he earned a master's degree from Duke University and married ---- and divorced ---- twice. His father said he was "not lucky in love," but that he had been talking recently of settling down.
He last saw his son over Memorial Day weekend. When he heard of the circumstances surrounding his son's death, he didn't believe it.
"The idea that my son would do something untoward with three weapons pointed at him is just beyond the pale," he said.
Friends and colleagues have also said the police description of Erik Scott's behavior was unusual.
"He wasn't a guy that was going to do anything to jeopardize anybody's life," friend Mike Pusateri said.
Bill Scott said he hopes the death of his son will trigger some change in Las Vegas.
"If there's anything good to come out of this, I would love to see Erik Scott's legacy in Las Vegas be that citizens demand they stop this nonsense ---- that they clean up Metro, that they clean up the inquest process."
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@review journal.com or 702-383-0440.