Like many people, Richard Hood hated graffiti. He felt it degraded the community and harmed local businesses.
So when Hood chased a pair of taggers away from his newly opened banquet hall Thursday afternoon, his business partner Joan Cluberton was not surprised.
“In hindsight, with his condition, he probably should have not got involved,” she said. “But I knew how he felt about graffiti and those guys.”
Hood, 59, died in front of Allure Gardens banquet hall at Charleston and Rainbow boulevards shortly after his encounter with the taggers.
Cluberton, 57, co-owned the hall with Hood. She saw him wrestling with one tagger, described as a man in his mid-20s.
“He had him bear-hugged from behind trying to stop the guy from fleeing,” Cluberton said.
The man eventually freed himself from Hood’s grip and ran away, she said. Cluberton followed in a car but couldn’t catch him.
When she returned, Hood had collapsed, and his face had turned purple. Paramedics were called, but they were unable to revive him.
He died at University Medical Center.
Cluberton said Hood had a history of heart disease and had a triple bypass surgery about a year ago. She thinks he had a heart attack, but the Clark County coroner’s office did not release a cause of death Friday.
“He was breathing so heavy. His adrenaline was just going,” she said. “I should have never left him.”
Both of the taggers were later caught by Las Vegas police patrol officers. Cluberton said she identified the man Hood grabbed.
Homicide detectives were investigating the case, which hinges on the medical examiner’s findings, Lt. Lew Roberts said.
“Once they find out how he died, we’ll go from there,” he said. “We’ll submit a case to the DA’s office and let them decide.”
Neither of the taggers was arrested in Hood’s death. Roberts didn’t know whether either was cited for graffiti.
Roberts said he wasn’t surprised the taggers struck in broad daylight on a busy street. He also wasn’t surprised the taggers weren’t teenagers.
“The damage these guys do is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s almost like a disease for them. They start when they’re young, and then can’t help themselves.”
Some media outlets reported that Hood had died after being beaten by the taggers, which Cluberton and Roberts said was false.
Cluberton said the man may have elbowed Hood while trying to free himself, but he never attacked him. She doesn’t expect the men to be charged with murder, or even manslaughter.
“Of course I’m angry, but I’m not stupid. I know the law, and I know how this will turn out,” she said.
She and Hood opened the banquet hall about a month ago.
Cluberton said she already owned one banquet hall on Charleston and Decatur boulevards with her husband. When they decided to expand, she and Hood took on the second location.
Hood, from Bakersfield, Calif., had been working in the Las Vegas construction industry until the economy tanked several years ago. He then opened a bar in Costa Rica, before selling it and moving back to Bakersfield, she said.
He remained in California until about a year ago, when he moved back to Las Vegas.
Hood turned 59 last month and was excited to work with Cluberton, his friend of 15 years, she said.
“One minute everything was fine. The next it was all over,” she said.
Hood’s funeral probably will be held in Bakersfield, where his family lives.
Cluberton said she’s dreading opening the banquet hall without her friend.
The graffiti, which Hood died trying to stop, still remains.