A 31-year-old officer remained in critical condition Wednesday from an on-duty gunshot injury to the leg that struck an artery the previous night, Las Vegas police said.
Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Michael Madland, who has been on the force three years, was "fighting for his life" at University Medical Center after he was shot twice in a residential backyard. Madland was chasing an auto theft suspect who fled on foot near Rainbow Boulevard and Washington Avenue.
Madland also was shot in the chest, but the bullet didn't pierce his protective vest. Gillespie said Madland underwent several surgeries during an 18-hour period after the 9 p.m. shooting.
"What happened last night is a perfect illustration of what police officers face every day," Gillespie said during a news conference Wednesday. "Brazen criminals willing to use a gun even against law enforcement."
Madland, he said, "was out there fighting crime, keeping our community safe."
Madland's partner, whose identity has not been released, fatally shot the suspect twice in the head, police said.
Police identified the suspect as 26-year-old Damon Beal, who, Gillespie said, fired several rounds at officers. He had a criminal history that included arrests for attempted sexual assault and possession of a controlled substance, police said.
The sequence of events that led to Madland's injury and Beal's death spilled into the backyard of Jahaira Farias' parents' home on Dolores Drive, southeast of Washington and Rainbow.
Farias, 21, said she was watching a movie with her mother when she saw a bright light shining in the bedroom window. Farias said that when she went to get a closer look, she noticed a helicopter's spotlight shining down on the backyard and sweeping neighboring yards.
She then saw a man jump over a neighbor's fence into her parents' property. When the spotlight again shone down on the yard, she saw a man holding a pistol in one hand.
That's when she panicked and dropped to the ground.
Farias told her mom, who suffers from pancreatic pain, to stay still on the bed because of her condition. While crouched, Farias grabbed her cell phone on the bed and shouted to her dad and sister, who were in other rooms, to get on the ground.
Farias dialed 911 in a frenzied state.
"The first thing I did was I shouted my address," she said. "I told them he was trying to get in (the house) because I thought he was."
Farias then made her way out of the bedroom and saw her 18-year-old sister crying hysterically in the living room. Her dad was in the kitchen walking toward the sliding glass doors that lead to the backyard. She thought her dad was trying to lock the door.
Farias then heard three gunshots. Less than a minute later, police were shouting at her front door, yelling to let them in, Farias said.
When police were let in, at least five officers rushed inside, Farias said. She then ran to her backyard, where there were more officers, and that is when she saw a man sprawled on the ground.
"I saw a guy's body over one of my mom's planters," she said. "I assumed he was dead. There was blood everywhere."
Farias said she never saw the injured officer . She went to the hospital with her mother, whose condition had become worse after the chaos.
She returned to the house about 1 a.m. and spoke with a homicide investigator. It was at that point that she saw a new blood trail leading from the backyard all the way through her house to the driveway. Farias was told by police the blood trail belonged to an injured officer.
"It was a lot of blood. ... A pretty thick trail," she said.
Farias, who returned in September 2009 from a tour of duty with the Marines in Iraq, said her experience in high-stress environments helped her Tuesday night.
"My instincts just kicked in," she said.
Beal was not the only suspect involved in Tuesday's incident. Police said Marvin Lee Wilson, 45, fled from police with Beal but was caught shortly after.
He was booked into the Clark County Detention Center without bail on the recommended charges of petit larceny, resisting a police officer and possession of a stolen vehicle. He is scheduled to appear in court this morning.
Police said the suspects stole a 1995 black Mercedes-Benz and tried to break into a house earlier Tuesday. The car was stolen in the morning. In the afternoon, a homeowner reported that two suspects who tried to break into his house had fled in a black Mercedes.
At 8:55 p.m., patrol officers pulled up behind a Mercedes at Charleston Boulevard and Rainbow, ran the plates and discovered it had been reported stolen.
When the officers tried to pull the car over, the driver did not stop. Officers chased the car toward Washington and Rainbow, where the men fled, police said.
Gillespie said Madland and his partner worked on the saturation team, a group of officers who target high-crime areas. The officer who shot Beal twice will be identified 48 hours after the incident, per department policy. He has been placed on routine paid administrative leave.
A Clark County coroner's inquest will be held to determine whether the officer's actions against Beal were justified, excusable or criminal.
Gillespie shared his anguish Wednesday over his department's recent spate of bad luck.
"After the tragedies this agency suffered this past year, I was praying this year would somehow be different."
Last year, four Las Vegas police officers died in less than seven months, three of them while on duty in car crashes. Also, officer Trevor Nettleton was fatally shot at his North Las Vegas home in what police said was a botched robbery attempt.