Police shoot man suspected in Sunday slaying

Shanna Ralston identified her attacker in what police called a “dying declaration” Sunday morning.

Less than 48 hours later, Las Vegas police had the suspect, 27-year-old Nathan Benson, in custody after he charged officers with a knife, forcing two officers to open fire upon him.

“Officers were left with no choice,” said Deputy Police Chief Jim Owens of the officers’ actions.

Early Sunday, police were called to the 6300 block of Greyhawk Avenue, near Washington Avenue and Torrey Pines Drive. Upon arrival, officers found Ralston suffering from severe stab wounds. With her last few breaths, Ralston identified Benson to officers as the suspect who attacked and stabbed her after an altercation.

Ralston, 44, died shortly after at University Medical Center.

Police reports indicate that Benson recently had been released from jail and was staying with Ralston, who was his former judo instructor, until he could find a permanent place to live.

It is not clear what provoked the attack that led to Ralston being stabbed, but witness reports point to an escalation of anger late Saturday night.

One witness who was renting a room at the residence told police that he saw Benson and Ralston watching television on the couch about 11 p.m. and heard a woman screaming sometime later.

About midnight, Benson’s mother received a call from him on Ralston’s cellphone. Benson’s mother told police that he became angry when he learned that she was eating dinner at another family member’s house without him.

Ten minutes later, a neighbor found Ralston bleeding heavily from what appeared to be stab wounds. Ralston died shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday, the report said.

The Metropolitan Police Department had received two separate calls Monday night with information that Benson might still be in the area of the attack. Both calls had come up empty, but that changed quickly as officers prepared to leave.

“As most of the officers were clearing, the Mr. Benson we were looking for actually came walking down the street,” Owens said.

Police attempted to talk to Benson, but the suspect took off on foot, heading south on Rainbow Boulevard.

Officers stopped Benson on Rainbow Boulevard, just north of Alta Drive, just before 10 p.m. Monday. But Benson had no intentions of going peacefully, police said.

Wielding two kitchen knives, Benson charged officers with one knife raised above his head.

“He refused commands to put the knife down, and the two officers fired their weapons,” Owens said.

Owens did not know how many shots officers fired, but witnesses at the scene said they heard three shots. During the pursuit of Benson, a police vehicle hit a civilian vehicle occupied by two women and a baby. Information on whether the vehicle’s occupants were injured was not released.

Benson, who was shot in the abdomen, was transported to UMC and was in critical condition Tuesday night. He was booked in absentia at the Clark County Detention Center on murder and assault charges.

According to the reports, while being transported to the hospital, Benson said that he wished the officers had killed him.

No officers were injured in the shooting.

The two officers who fired their weapons will be put on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal review of the shooting.

Owens applauded those who called in about spotting Benson.

“When our citizenry gets involved and helps the police, and has critical information like this, we all gain.”