A man who died after a shootout with Las Vegas police earlier this week already had served prison time for murder, according to public records obtained Thursday.
Police identified the gunman as David Paul Gonzalez, 32. He died from multiple gunshot wounds from the incident, which began Tuesday night when two officers in one patrol car tried to stop his car after seeing it speeding and weaving on Flamingo Road near Swenson Street just after 8 p.m.
According to Clark County records, Gonzalez was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May 1997, with credit for 270 days already served, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He was initially charged with murder with a deadly weapon.
How Gonzalez came to be driving in Las Vegas less than 14 years into a 25-year sentence was unclear Thursday. He was listed as “inactive-out” on the Nevada Department of Corrections’ website, which does not list a release date. Attempts to reach corrections department officials were unsuccessful Thursday.
District Attorney David Roger said Thursday that offenders in 1997 were eligible for parole after five years.
While not speaking directly about Gonzalez because he didn’t know the circumstances of his release, Roger said a dire economy forces legislators to consider releasing offenders early because it’s expensive to keep them in prison.
Roger said he is concerned about the development, and emphasized that Tuesday’s incident could have ended differently.
“It could have been a far more tragic ending,” Roger said. “Public safety is the number one concern. People who have been sent to prison have earned their place in that prison cell.”
Las Vegas police said Tuesday they didn’t know why Gonzalez ran from and shot at the officers, but as a felon in possession of a gun he would likely have faced additional prison time.
Police on Thursday offered few details about Gonzalez other than to say that he was charged with murder in 1996.
Gonzalez, then 18, was arrested on one count of murder with a deadly weapon in connection with the stabbing death of a 20-year-old man, the Review-Journal reported in September 1996.
According to the report, the stabbing occurred on a Saturday night outside a dance hall on Commerce Street near Oakey Avenue.
Las Vegas police said an argument escalated into a fight when one man brandished a knife.
Police said the 20-year-old, who was not identified, was stabbed numerous times and died later at University Medical Center.
Gonzalez was arrested at a nearby apartment.
Capt. Patrick Neville said police stopped Gonzalez’s car Tuesday night because of concern that he was headed toward the Strip. Officers performed the Pursuit Intervention Technique to spin and disable the vehicle.
When the chase ended in front of a Speedee Mart east of Swenson, Gonzalez got out of his vehicle, which was pinned against the police car, and fired once at the officers, police said.
He ran a short distance, turned around and fired a second time, they said.
One officer returned fire, striking Gonzalez several times.
He was hit in the arm and chest, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.
At least one shot hit a car in the area, police said. It was unclear Thursday who fired that shot.
The officers were not injured.
The identity of the officer who was involved in the shooting was not released. He has been placed on routine paid-administrative leave.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638, and reporter Brian Haynes at email@example.com or 702-383-0281.