Police say bump led to shooting

It was just an accidental bump between two teens at a crowded bus stop. At least that's what Mojave High School student David Macias thought.

Nicco Tatum, police said, saw it differently.

Despite Macias' apologies, the 18-year-old dropout with a troubled past responded with punches until Macias ran home, a police report said. The next day, Macias summoned a handful of friends and relatives to the bus stop to protect him after school, but they could not shield him from the hail of bullets unleashed into the crowd by Tatum and another gunman, police said.

Macias and five others, including three other Mojave students, were hit by gunfire about 1:55 p.m. Tuesday in one of the worst incidents of school-related violence in Las Vegas history.

All because of a bump.

Macias' 21-year-old uncle, Michael Sardinas, was one of the wounded. One bullet hit him near his right shoulder and chipped his shoulder blade. He said medical personnel told him it missed his lung by only inches. The bullet left a penny-sized entry wound on his shoulder and a nickel-sized exit wound.

When he was shot in the shoulder, it just burned a little, he said, adding that the more painful injury -- at the time, anyway -- was one that did not pierce his skin.

Something hit him in the back as he was trying to run for cover.

"It felt like I got kicked by a steel-toe boot," Sardinas said.

Whatever hit Sardinas in the back bounced off him.

He thinks that what he felt was the last of a bullet that already had gone through the kneecap of his friend Daniel Jimenez nearby.

Speaking at his home Thursday with a sling on his right arm, he said he was lucky to be alive.

"I started to run as soon as I saw people begin to scatter," Sardinas said. "I heard shots, and everybody was running toward Walnut on Alexander to get to a brick wall. That's when I got hit.

"I thought I was going to die on that corner. I was thinking of my mom and my girlfriend. I was thinking, 'When is the ambulance going to get here?'"

Sardinas said he and four of his friends had gone down to the bus stop to meet Macias "to make sure nobody beat him up," but they were not going to start a fight. He said that they planned to talk their way out of trouble if any started.

Sardinas said neither he nor his friends are in a gang. "Look at my arms," he said. "No tattoos."

He said his group did not confront Tatum. They never even said a word to him because they did not know who he was, Sardinas said.

Less than a minute after two buses left, with about 50 people milling around the bus stop, the gunshots rang out, Sardinas said.

Macias told investigators that he had called his friends to meet him at the bus stop about 2 p.m. Tuesday to try to ensure Tatum and his handful of friends could not jump him.

Macias said he felt safe enough to get off the bus, but he knew trouble was coming when Tatum and the others spotted him and headed his way, the report said.

Macias heard gunshots and turned to run away. He did not get far before a bullet ripped into the back of his lower right leg and came out the front, the report said.

Macias, Sardinas, Jimenez and a girl who also was wounded in the shooting, were treated at University Medical Center and released.

Police have withheld the ages of the victims, but the school district said the youngest is 14.

Two other teens, Alexander Rios and Mark Smith, remained at the hospital Thursday night. Smith, 17, who was shot in the belly, was doing fine, sitting in a chair and eating Jell-O, his father said.

Rios, 18, was in fair condition, the hospital said.

Some witnesses said they think the confrontation was racially driven. Sardinas, who is Hispanic, said if he were racist, he would not be dating a black woman.

Tatum, who is black, was identified by Macias and two other witnesses as the person they saw firing a gun at the bus stop. A second suspect remained at large Thursday night, Las Vegas police said.

Denver police and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Tatum about 9:30 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday at a Denver bus station. He was on his way to Chicago.

He was awaiting extradition to Nevada to face six counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon and battery with a deadly weapon.

The run-in with law was not the first for Tatum. Juvenile criminal records are not public, but Tatum spent time last year at the Summit View Youth Correctional Facility, a state-run, maximum-security facility in North Las Vegas for teens who commit violent or otherwise serious crimes.

Before that he attended an alternative school.

He had been enrolled at Desert Pines High School in 2003, Mojave from 2003 to 2005 and Centennial High School in 2006, a school district official said.

Tatum dropped out of school in March, his highest grade level having been the 11th grade, the district said.

Sardinas' mother, Carmen Sida, said she feels sorry for Tatum's family, particularly his mother.

"I know what she must be going through," worrying about a son, Sida said.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-4638. Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0281.