As Las Vegas police officer William Mosher sped toward the Costco store, he thought the worst.
Inside the bustling Summerlin store that Saturday afternoon, a man was acting strangely, claiming to be a Green Beret and carrying a handgun. With hundreds of shoppers in the store, it was a recipe for disaster, he said.
"During that time of day, our concern is it might escalate into an active shooter situation, where individuals start shooting people," Mosher testified Thursday in the Clark County coroner's inquest on the July 10 shooting of Erik Scott.
The day's testimony focused on the reason police were called to the store, why surveillance video of the shooting does not exist and Mosher's first public description of the incident.
Mosher was one of three Las Vegas police officers who shot the 38-year-old medical device salesman as he left the store. A Costco security employee called 911 because Scott was behaving strangely and refused to leave after being told that guns were not allowed.
As the store was being evacuated, Mosher and the other officers waited outside for Scott and his girlfriend to come out. Mosher said he told Scott to turn around, and when he did Mosher saw the gun in his waistband.
"Show your hands. Get down on the ground. Get down on the ground," Mosher said he yelled at Scott, who seemed "a little out of it, like he's under the influence, possibly of narcotics."
"He says, quote-unquote, 'I have a gun,' " the officer testified.
Mosher said Scott pulled the gun from his waistband, raised it and pointed it toward him. Mosher responded by firing twice "in quick succession," he said.
Scott stepped back but remained standing, prompting officers Joshua Stark and Thomas Mendiola to fire five more shots into Scott. He fell to the ground and died a short time later.
Jurors heard a recording of the 911 call made by a Costco worker, on which police can be heard yelling commands. A transcript reads, "Put your hands where I can see them now. Drop it. Get on the ground. Get on the ground" before the sound of gunfire and screams.
Scott's girlfriend, Samantha Sterner, was hysterical before and after the shooting, Mosher testified.
"She said, quote-unquote, 'He's in the Army. He just got back from Iraq. He's a Green Beret, and you just killed him,' " said Mosher, who faced an inquest in 2006 after he shot and killed a home-invasion suspect. A jury found his actions justified.
Scott graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1994 and served two years in the Army before being honorably discharged. He was never in Special Forces or Iraq.
The incident was set into motion about 15 minutes earlier, when Costco loss-prevention supervisor Shai Lierley noticed Scott opening packages and mumbling to himself in the camping aisle. Lierley testified he saw Scott open soft-sided coolers and try to stuff stainless steel water bottles into them. Scott was talking to himself, saying something about finding a color and wondering why the bottles didn't fit into the bags, Lierley said.
The bottles didn't fit into the coolers, but that didn't stop Scott from opening identical packages of bottles and continue trying to fit them into the same cooler, Lierley said.
Lierley said that after a peaceful interaction between Scott and manager Vince Lopez, he saw Scott tearing merchandise tags from multiple coolers and packages of water bottles. Lierley said he then noticed the handgun in Scott's waistband and told Lopez, who informed Scott that guns are not allowed in the store.
"Next thing you know, Mr. Scott ... gets up and says, 'I'm a Green Beret. You need to check the (expletive) Constitution.' And it was just real quick, real snapped. And at that point, it made me step back because he had a firearm," Lierley said.
He said most people in that situation leave the store, but Scott got defensive and argued. The employees backed off, and Lierley called police.
Lierley was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher as he followed Scott and Sterner out of the store, with other shoppers.
"She grabs him to help him walk out of the front, ... and she said, 'I think they're evacuating us because of you,' '' he said.
At one point Scott appeared to stumble and have trouble walking straight, he said.
As they reached the exit, Lierley pointed Scott out to police. Lierley said he watched as Scott pulled the gun from his waistband and raised it toward an officer, and distinctly heard someone order Scott to "drop the firearm."
But Scott did not. With his left hand in the air, Scott pulled at his gun with his right hand, he said.
"The weird part is he just keeps on grabbing at the gun on his hip, and he keeps on yanking at it," Lierley said. "The officer starts yelling, and the next thing you know a round goes off when Mr. Scott's hands come up."
Lierley testified that he remembered the first shot striking Scott in the chest as Scott was raising his gun. He can be heard on the 911 tape telling the dispatcher, "He pulled a firearm" after the sounds of gunfire.
Police recovered Scott's .45-caliber handgun, in its holster, from the ground near where he fell.
The witness was the second Costco worker to testify. On Wednesday, Colleen Kullberg said she was evacuating from the store when she saw Scott aim his gun at a police officer.
Scott, who had a concealed-weapons permit, was carrying two handguns at the time of the shooting, police said.
Though he had the permit, Scott would have been arrested if he were under the influence of drugs and carrying a weapon, Mosher said.
The medical examiner who autopsied Scott said Wednesday that the man had near-fatal levels of the painkiller morphine and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system when he died. A pain management doctor who treated Scott testified that he thought the man was addicted to the narcotic painkiller hydrocodone.
Thursday's testimony covered Costco's video security system and the failure of a camera pointed at the shooting scene to record any images.
Lierley testified that two days earlier, on July 8, he realized the system was not recording video from 17 interior cameras, and he scheduled repairs for the following Monday. All of the cameras recorded to one computer hard drive, he said.
Brian Wyche, a forensic multimedia analyst for the Las Vegas police, said he examined the system about five hours after the shooting, but all he got was an error message. After a reboot, the system resumed recording. Wyche said he could not find any video files between July 8 and the time of the reboot.
Jason Swords of Vegas Valley Locking Systems, which services the system, testified that he tried three methods to retrieve images from the digital video recorder's hard drive two days later, without success.
Police sent the hard drive to the U.S. Secret Service in Los Angeles, which sent it to the maker, Seagate Recovery Services. Seagate's David Teigen said the disk drive's factory seal was intact when he received it. It had severe errors and showed "typical signs of hard drive failure," but technicians recovered about two-thirds of the data, he said.
Police reviewed the video but found none from about 2 p.m. July 8 to 5:30 p.m. July 10.
Ross Goodman, a Scott family lawyer, later said the video gap raises the "specter of suspicion."
"I don't think the general public is going to buy for one minute that Costco's video system was down for five days and they did nothing about it," he said.
Goodman also disputed testimony by Mosher, saying Scott was complying with conflicting commands from the officers. He also said Lierley was "completely wrong about his observations about Erik Scott," saying he has witnesses who described an "amicable" interaction with store employees.
"There's much ado about nothing," he said.
Thursday's testimony began with Steve Novotny, who recalled a March encounter with Scott at their condo complex. Novotny said he awoke about 7:30 a.m. on March 9 to the sound of his dog barking. He went into the front courtyard at his condominium complex and found Scott pinning the dog under his foot and pointing his handgun at it, he said.
Scott yelled that the dog had just bitten him. Novotny said that after the dog ran back to him, Scott aimed his gun at him and threatened him.
"Mr. Scott looked at me and said, 'You're lucky I didn't shoot you and your dog,' " Novotny testified.
Novotny said he went inside and got his gun to confront Scott, but he was gone when Novotny returned outside.
Scott filed a complaint with animal control, and the dog was quarantined. Novotny said he later bumped into Scott in the parking lot and offered to pay for any medical treatment, but Scott just walked away.
The inquest is scheduled to continue this morning with Mosher again on the witness stand. A Saturday session is planned, and testimony is expected to resume again on Tuesday.
About 50 witnesses are expected to testify before the seven-member jury is asked to rule whether the shooting was justifiable, excusable or criminal.