Shooting staggers neighbors


Joe Gargiulo knew the family who lived in the house on the cul-de-sac as the "ice cream people."

"They drove ice cream trucks for a living. They were good with kids," said Gargiulo, who lives a few houses down from the Selimaj family.

He was shocked to learn that the hardworking Albanian immigrant couple who parked two ice cream trucks in their driveway had been involved in a roadside confrontation with Henderson police that ended with Deshira Selimaj, 42, shot and killed by police and her husband, Zyber Selimaj, 65, in jail.

Police said they were forced to shoot a knife-wielding Deshira Selimaj on Tuesday afternoon after she threatened one of her sons and police officers with the weapon.

She had come to the aid of her husband, who was pulled over for speeding and ignoring a stop sign in his ice cream truck, about a half mile south of Coronado High School.

Gargiulo said he did not believe Deshira Selimaj was capable of hurting a child, let alone one of her sons.

"They didn't seem like that type," he said.

Police said a language barrier hindered their communication with the couple during the confrontation.

Gargiulo said he understands how police could have trouble understanding them.

"The husband's English was really bad," Gargiulo said. "The wife's English was a bit better, but not great."

The incident began about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday near the intersection of Sunridge Heights and Pecos Ridge parkways. Police said that after Zyber Selimaj was pulled over, he became combative and refused to sign a citation, but he eventually did.

That is when a police officer called his wife, who showed up in her ice cream truck with two of her sons, ages 7 and 11, police said.

Police said both Zyber and Deshira Selimaj made suicidal statements during the stop. At one point, Deshira Selimaj emerged from an ice cream truck with a knife and held it to the throat of one of her children, police said.

Police said they tried to subdue her using Tasers but she did not drop the knife and made an aggressive move toward them. Police said they were able to pull the child away from the mother before shooting the woman.

Zyber Selimaj was in the Henderson jail Wednesday afternoon on the traffic violations and a charge of obstructing police.

Henderson police released no additional details on the incident Wednesday, citing the investigation. Keith Paul, a Henderson police spokesman, said the facts will be revealed during a coroner's inquest.

The 23-year-old officer who shot the woman was placed on paid leave while the shooting is investigated, police said. The officer has been with the department two years. The department's policy is to withhold for 48 hours the names of officers who fire their weapon in the line of duty.

Many of the Selimajs' neighbors, who asked not to be identified, said Wednesday that the incident was a tragedy because it left three children without a mother. Neighbors said the third child is a boy about 4 or 5.

One neighbor said she believed the incident could have been resolved without a shooting.

The couple's three children were taken to Child Haven after the incident and were in protective custody Wednesday, said Christine Skorupski, a spokeswoman for Clark County Family Services.

None of the children needed medical attention, Skorupski said. The agency was searching for family members to care for the children.

Those who knew the couple described them as hardworking and responsible.

Gargiulo said they drove their ice cream trucks six days a week.

A manager at the Vista Mobile Home Park on Boulder Highway, where the family lived for six years, said they ran their ice cream business, Deer Runner -- Albania, from their home. He said the couple were good tenants who paid bills on time.

But Zyber Selimaj had a temper, the manager said.

A Henderson police report said that on Oct. 7, a 14-year-old boy accused Zyber Selimaj of hitting him in the face after he told the boy there wasn't anything in his ice cream truck he could buy for a dollar.

One of the investigating officers concluded that a warrant should be issued for Zyber Selimaj's arrest on a charge of misdemeanor battery. Whether he was charged was unclear Wednesday.

County records showed the Selimaj family in September bought a five-bedroom home south of Lake Mead Parkway and east of Boulder Highway.

One of their new neighbors was emotional Wednesday as she said she knew something was wrong because the family always closed their blinds at night, but their blinds had been open for more than a day.

Review-Journal writers Lynnette Curtis and Scott Spjut contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-4638.

 

Rules for posting comments

Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum. Read our guidelines for posting. If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon next to the comment.