Teenager tells police mother's death was accident

A Las Vegas teenager accused of shooting and killing his mother told police her death was an accident, an arrest report revealed Tuesday.

According to the report, 19-year-old Mitchell Lavender was inside his North Las Vegas home at 1209 Cobblestone Cove Road, near Washburn Road and Bruce Street, when police arrived in response to a reported shooting about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 16.

Upon entering the house, police discovered Lavender's mother, 52-year-old Michele Lavender, in the living room in critical condition from a gunshot wound to the chest.

She was taken to University Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead.

The report states that Mitchell Lavender appeared distressed and told police he "shot his mother and he could not believe he did it."

During an interview with detectives, Lavender said he had been suicidal after breaking up with "the only girl he loved in Michigan" and after recently learning that his father had cancer, the report states.

Lavender told police he took a gun from his brother's bedroom and went into the backyard but "changed his mind" before he could harm himself.

He then returned inside the house, where he was confronted by his mother, the report states.

His mother asked him to give her the gun, which he had tucked into the waistband of his pants, the report states.

He was handing the weapon to his mother when it "went off," he said in the report. He told police he didn't know how the weapon had discharged.

During the investigation, police discovered a bullet hole in the front door of the house, which was believed to have been caused by a bullet traveling from the inside of the house to the outside, the report states.

The bullet then struck a column outside the door, the report states. The trajectory revealed the bullet had been traveling at a slight upward angle.

Lavender told police he had been holding the gun in a manner in which "the barrel was pointing to his left and toward the ground," the report states.

Detectives told Lavender the shooting could not have happened the way he described, the report states.

Police told Lavender the bullet had struck his mother in the right breast and exited at the back of her left armpit, traveling at an upward angle.

Lavender said he could not explain the inconsistencies between his story and the evidence, the report states.

He was subsequently arrested and booked into the North Las Vegas Detention Center.

Several people who knew the family described Michele Lavender as a former police dispatcher from Detroit who had moved to Las Vegas with her husband earlier this year.

She was recently diagnosed with multiple brain aneurysms and her husband was diagnosed with cancer, sources confirmed.

The family moved to Las Vegas to be closer to a brother and sister of Mitchell Lavender, so that the siblings could share the burden of caring for their ill parents, sources said.

"She was just trying to get out and make the best of her life," a friend who lives in Michigan said last week. "We expected to get a phone call about her death, but not like this."

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.