Erik Scott, who was described by Las Vegas police as "kind of going berserk" before he was fatally shot by officers in front of a Costco store on Saturday, did not appear out of control to one witness who saw the man interacting with store employees.
In a news release issued Monday, police said Scott, 39, was "acting erratically" and "damaging merchandise" while inside the store in Summerlin. He also was seen with a pistol on him, police said. Police were called to the store about the incident, which ended with Scott's death. Shots were fired by three officers, including one who was involved in a fatal shooting in 2006.
But a witness the Review-Journal interviewed Monday, a 72-year-old man who spoke on the condition that his name not be used, said Scott did not appear to be doing anything nefarious.
Scott was crouched down with a backpack in front of him in a sporting goods aisle, the witness said. Scott had taken a large package of sport drink bottles off the shelf and placed it on the floor in front of him. He had torn open the package to get at the contents and was placing the bottles in and out of the backpack.
"It was like he was trying it out," the man said. "I think possibly he was trying to see if it would fit in his backpack."
A Costco employee confronted Scott in the aisle, and the witness said Scott's voice was "elevated." He couldn't hear what was being said. The witness did not see a gun on Scott.
But when the witness walked by Scott, he heard him say to the employee, "Well, I can do that in Texas."
"After we walked down the aisle, my wife said, 'That's a funny thing for him to say,' and I agreed," the witness said.
In retrospect, the 72-year-old man said he believed Scott's comment about Texas was a reference to being allowed to carry a concealed handgun.
When the couple rounded the corner of the aisle, they saw a second Costco employee who appeared to be talking on a Bluetooth headset while observing Scott and the other employee.
Roughly five minutes later, the man said, he heard an announcement on the store's intercom asking everyone to leave the building.
Scott was shot while following the crowd out of the store.
Several witnesses interviewed by the Review-Journal have said they did not see a gun and did not see Scott reach for a gun when police confronted him outside the store.
But the 72-year-old man, in addition to another witness reached Monday, said they did see the weapon and did see Scott reach for it.
Police have said that Scott drew a pistol and pointed it at officers after they ordered him to raise his hands and lie on the ground. Both witnesses gave their accounts to homicide investigators, they said.
The 72-year-old man heard police say, "Get on the ground. Get on the ground." He saw Scott facing the officers, who were between Scott and the store entrance.
The man said he saw Scott reach with his right hand and pull out what appeared to be a gun in a zippered holster. He recognized the holster, he said, because he has one like it. Officers then fired, and the man saw the gun fall out of Scott's hand. The witness did not see Scott point the gun at officers.
"I feel sorry for the guy, but he just made a dumb move," the 72-year-old man said.
The second witness, who also spoke on the condition that his name not be used, was standing near the entrance when he said he heard police shout, "Get down on the ground. Get down now."
He turned to see why police were yelling, he said, and saw Scott reaching for what appeared to be a pistol in his waistband. The witness said he recognized the butt of the gun and immediately turned toward his wife and covered her as they dove to the ground.
"He was definitely reaching for the gun," the man said.
The witness turned away before he could see whether Scott fully removed the weapon from his waistband and didn't see the shooting. He said it did not appear that Scott was trying to "quick-draw" the weapon on the officers.
He heard gunshots soon after. The witness said he has been struggling with how the incident unfolded.
"It's so totally bizarre to me" that the man would grab the weapon in front of the officers, the witness said.
He added that he doesn't believe the man deserved to die for his actions, as he has heard other people say. But he said he does believe the officers were justified in their response.
However, he disputes whether police should have confronted Scott in a dense crowd. Nobody else was injured during the incident.
The Costco store, at 801 S. Pavilion Center Circle, has video surveillance cameras. It wasn't clear whether the cameras captured the event. Calls to Costco's corporate spokesman were not returned Monday.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Monday that investigators have been trying to obtain the video: "We have not recovered any video at this point."
He said he couldn't comment on the case because it is under investigation and will be the subject of a Clark County coroner's inquest. A date for the inquest has not yet been scheduled.
Three officers have been placed on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcomes of the investigation and inquest. They are 38-year-old William Mosher, a five-year veteran of the department; 28-year-old Joshua Stark, a two-year veteran; and 23-year-old Thomas Mendiola, also a two-year veteran.
Saturday's shooting was not the first for Mosher, who in April 2006 was one of two officers who shot and killed a suspect in a car.
At a coroner's inquest, officers Mosher and John Jessie Wiggins testified they feared for Wiggins' life when they opened fire on Aaron Jones at the Sunset Breeze apartments in the southwest valley. Both officers fired after Jones, a suspect in a home burglary, backed up his car and hit Wiggins in an attempt to escape.
Police said Scott, a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who earned a master's degree from North Carolina's Duke University, was carrying two guns. They said that he pointed one at officers and that a second one was found by medical personnel transporting Scott to University Medical Center.
Attorney Ross Goodman, who is representing the family, said he does not dispute that Scott was carrying a weapon. But he said he has received numerous calls and e-mails from witnesses who claim that they did not see Scott pull out a gun in front of officers.
Scott's girlfriend was present during the shooting. Friends said the two were buying items for when she was to move in with him. She has declined to comment through Goodman, who has described the family as "distraught" over what happened.
Scott has lived in Las Vegas for more than a decade, according to his friends. He was a sales representative for Boston Scientific, a medical devices manufacturer. He sold pacemakers for the company.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440. Contact reporter Brian Haynes at email@example.com or 702-383-0281.