John Hastrich and his girlfriend will never again live in the Las Vegas home they shared for seven years.
Hastrich can’t imagine ever feeling safe there in the aftermath of so much terror, he said.
“I can’t ever bring her back there. ... Not after what happened,” Hastrich, 53, said Wednesday.
He watched helplessly last week as Terri Ham, 54, the partner he had been with almost 20 years, nearly died on their tile floor. She’s alive, but only barely.
“She’s in very, very critical condition. She is a very sick person,” Hastrich said.
Hastrich and Ham were the final victims in a chaotic crime spree in a southeast Las Vegas neighborhood early July 29, which police say was carried out by Cody Winters, 27, and his girlfriend Natasha Jackson, 35.
Before breaking into Hastrich’s home, Winters already had shot and killed a neighbor, Richard Ramos, 59, and kidnapped a highway maintenance worker.
Hastrich said Winters, while running from police, dived through a glass window just before 7 a.m. He had been unable to break through the security doors that fortified the home’s front and back entrances, Hastrich said.
The couple awoke to shattering glass and police officers screaming for them to run to the other side of their one-story, ranch-style house.
Hastrich scrambled to find his girlfriend’s glasses, and they put up a metal gate to prevent their elderly dog, Sally, from attacking and possibly being killed by the intruder.
Ham looked outside and noticed two Metro officers with AR-15 rifles.
“She said, ‘Johnny, wow, we should get away from the window,’ ” Hastrich recalled.
But as the couple tried to escape from the home, Winters came “barreling right at me,” Hastrich said. Winters put a gun to his head and demanded the car keys.
Hastrich said he wasn’t about to play the “stupid hero” and quickly handed over the keys. He knew right away that Winters was serious.
“I looked at him, and I knew I was a dead man,” he said. “I could see it in his eyes.”
Winters took the keys and headed toward the broken window but paused when he saw the broken glass in the frame. Hastrich said Winters was already cut and bleeding from his entry and probably didn’t want to make a second trip.
Hastrich and Ham were near the door when Winters returned. They were in his way. Without warning, Winters fired a shot — intended for him, he said.
But the shot struck Ham in the side of her stomach. Hastrich first thought she had fallen.
“Then I saw the huge hole, and blood just pouring out,” he said. “I ran outside and said, ‘He’s in my house!’ I was screaming at the top of my lungs.”
Winters then tried to use Ham as a human shield to escape. But when Ham collapsed, slipping from Winters’ grasp, Metro officer Ryan Rotta, 24, shot and killed him.
Authorities carried Ham from the home and rushed her to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where she remains after six major surgeries.
The bullet tore apart her liver, colon, kidneys, spleen and intestines before lodging inside her stomach, Hastrich said.
She’s been conscious for much of her hospital stay, Hastrich said. That’s good, but also bad. Ham was an EMT years earlier and clearly understood the severity of her condition when doctors explained her injuries, he said.
When Ham heard a nurse talking about the shooting, her heart rate spiked immediately, Hastrich said.
“She’s fighting for her life. She truly is. And so am I, really. This turned our lives upside down,” he said. “You buy your dream home, and you figure you’re safe in your home.”
Hastrich, a professional sports handicapper, said he met Ham in Arizona almost 20 years ago and “dragged her out to Las Vegas.” Their 20-year anniversary is Jan. 24.
She is an uncommonly kind person who values life and loves animals, especially birds, Hastrich said.
When a pigeon in their yard hurt its wing and couldn’t fly, Ham rescued it. She named it Jack, he said.
It took days for Hastrich to figure out why Ham picked that name. He finally asked, and Ham said she found the pigeon in a box.
“Jack in the box,” Hastrich recalled with a laugh. “Now she’s in the hospital, but she makes sure that doggone pigeon, of all things, is taken care of.”
Ham has four children from a prior relationship and four grandchildren, he said. Ham’s kids came to Las Vegas from Utah, and her sister and mother came from Arizona to offer care and support.
Hastrich needs support, too.
He won’t stay in the home on Almondwood Drive, located in a typically quiet neighborhood near Tropicana Avenue and Sandhill Road. He is staying in a hotel, although he returns each day to feed their pet cockatoo and the pigeon. Neighbors saw him at the home days after the shooting and asked to give him a hug.
“It pains me to walk in that house,” he said. His furniture was riddled by hollow-point bullets from the officer’s rifle shots.
Hastrich said he was in shock for about five days, unable to give simple directions or recall basic things.
But his memories of his girlfriend are too powerful. He recalled buying a can of Folgers coffee for Ham after seeing a commercial. The morning before the shooting, she sang him the Folgers jingle while making coffee.
Then Ham hugged him and said, “I love you. You take such good care of me,” Hastrich said.
He saw the commercial days after she was shot and nearly lost it, he said.
“I’m barely holding it together,” he said. “The little things just flash through my mind.”
Hastrich said he wanted to thank the Metro officers who came to his home, as well as the detectives and other police officials who helped him later.
He’s angry, too, although it’s mostly masked by his grief. He called Winters a “stupid lunatic” who destroyed his life.
Hastrich also doesn’t buy the excuse of Winters’ girlfriend, Jackson, who said in a jailhouse interview with a local television station that she had been “drugged” and out of her mind.
Jackson never made her way into his home, Hastrich said, but he heard her yelling to Winters before she was captured. Jackson told him to “kill everyone,” he said.
She has been arrested on charges including murder and kidnapping for her role in the spree.
“I hope you get the death penalty, you b----,” he said.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @blasky on Twitter.