An officer fatally shot a male juvenile who had an arm wrapped around a woman's throat while wielding a knife Tuesday at an east valley apartment, Las Vegas police said.
Capt. Randy Montandon said police arrived at the Sunridge Apartment Homes, 4855 Vegas Valley Drive, near Nellis Boulevard, about 5:13 p.m. in response to a call about a "subject with a knife."
Montandon said officers found the suspect and a woman struggling outside of an apartment.
As the officers approached and began to negotiate with him, he gained the upper hand in the fight and restrained the woman, Montandon said. The juvenile was armed with a weapon reported to be larger than a kitchen knife, but police did not specify how the suspect was holding the knife.
One officer fired his weapon and struck the suspect, Montandon said. The officer fired because there was an "immediate threat" to the woman.
"He was armed with a knife," Montandon said. "I personally saw the knife on the ground next to the subject."
Montandon said Tuesday evening that details were still being worked out because the investigation was in its preliminary stages.
He said police did not know the suspect's age but noted he was "probably a juvenile."
Montandon said late Tuesday that police had not confirmed the suspect's identity. Montandon said the woman involved in the struggle had not yet been interviewed by police.
Neighbors and friends of the suspect speculated that he and his mother were fighting.
Montandon said police were canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses. He said he did not know whether the woman had been injured in the struggle. She was not taken to a hospital.
Ryne Semmerling, 17, said the shooting shook both him and the neighborhood's residents. Semmerling said he was at the complex's park with a friend when he heard a nearby commotion. He said it sounded like people shouting, but he couldn't make out what they were saying.
He then saw a group of youngsters run by him saying police were coming. Moments later, he heard the fatal gunfire.
"It was pretty loud," Semmerling said. "It sounded like firecrackers."
Two teenagers at the apartment complex said they were friends of the deceased teen. They named him, but his identity could not be confirmed by authorities.
The teens said the suspect shot by police was either a 15- or 16-year-old junior at Chaparral High School.
Two of the suspect's friends spoke glowingly of him. They said they were about a mile away from the shooting when they were called by a neighbor who told them what had happened.
Koby Walsh, 16, said his friend was a good student who was going places in life.
"He would have made it up there. That's for sure," Walsh said.
Walsh said his friend acted recently in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Chaparral. Walsh played the role of Demetrius.
Walsh said his friend had confided in him that he sometimes dealt with problems at home and that he had experimented with drugs. But Walsh said his friend's problems were no different than those faced by other teenagers.
Another friend, Scott Landreth, 15, a freshman at Chaparral, described his friend as a person who came to school every day with a smile on his face.
"He was a really good kid," Landreth said. "He's going to be missed."
Landreth said he struggled to comprehend the actions of police.
"I don't understand why we're paying taxpayer money to put them through a police academy so they can learn how to disarm people," he said. "Instead, they shoot them on sight."
The name of the officer who fired the shot will not be released until 48 hours after the shooting, as per the Metropolitan Police Department's policy.
The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a coroner's inquest.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.