The mother of a man shot by Henderson police officers early this week took issue Thursday with the department’s report of his arrest.
In their report, police said Charlene McNeill told detectives in the aftermath of the shooting that her son said he would kill himself and that he would shoot police if they arrived.
Armed with a rifle, Tony Allen McNeill, 53, was shot by police on Monday afternoon in front of his parents’ condominium after he failed to follow their commands.
“He didn’t say he would shoot the police,” the 75-year-old mother said Thursday. “He said, ‘I will kill myself, or they will kill me.’ He never said he would shoot the police, and that’s a big difference and an important fact.”
Police spokesman Todd Rassmussen said McNeill not only told police that her son had threatened to shoot them but that Tony McNeill can be heard on the 911 tape saying much the same. “He said he would aim at us,” Rassmussen said. He declined to provide a recording of the tape, saying, “That’s evidence. The jury will hear it.”
He continued, “We’re very confident that when we go into court the shooting was justified.”
McNeill said police have not told her anything about Monday’s shooting. She has not been allowed to visit her son at Sunrise Hospital, where he is under armed guard, and for two days, nobody told her his condition.
“All this time I thought they shot him in the arm,” she said. “Then I was told he was shot in the shoulder and the bullet collapsed his lung. Now I read he was shot in the chest. Everybody seems to know what’s going on but me.”
She does know that her son is no longer on a respirator and that he watched television for a while on Wednesday.
Rassmussen said the mother couldn’t visit her son because of his custody status. “He’s a prisoner,” he said. “He’s a 53-year-old man, not a child, and the hospital has its own rules.”
His initial hearing in Henderson Justice Court, which was scheduled for Thursday, was postponed until next week.
McNeill also said she never told police she smelled alcohol on her son when he came home after spending Christmas day and night away from the Racetrack Road condominium in which three generations of the family live.
“I told them I asked him if he had been drinking not because I thought he had been, but because he hadn’t had anything to drink for six months,” and she wondered about his absence, she said.
McNeill also said her son shot the
.22-caliber rifle twice inside the home, not three times as reported by police. He is charged with three felony counts of discharging a firearm inside an occupied structure and three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Three officers fired at Tony McNeill after he reportedly pointed a rifle at them.
Police in their report said evidence collected at the scene indicated three shots were fired: two into the floor of Tony McNeill’s bedroom and one into the ceiling above the living room.
McNeill does not deny her son sat on a couch and put the muzzle of the rifle under his chin before he fired the round into the ceiling, and she admits he was depressed.
“He’s been through a lot,” she said. “He had been depressed because of everything he’s gone through. Who wouldn’t be?”
She said she thinks her son’s struggles began in childhood. The Western High School graduate for 25 years has taken prescribed medication to deal with mental issues.
But because he wasn’t treated for his condition until after he reached adulthood, Charlene McNeill can’t identify with certainty his ailment.
“It’s his own private life,” she said. “I don’t look at his prescription bottles. I know he went to that hospital like clockwork. He went faithfully, and they gave him his medicine. He went there for years until very recently.”
Tony McNeill was afflicted with more than mental health issues. He had surgery for a serious neck injury and recently underwent a knee replacement. Doctors prescribed morphine.
“He took a lot of pills,” an emotional Charlene McNeill said, “because he was in a lot of pain. There were no illegal drugs here. He didn’t drink alcohol. He took care of his father, and he helped a lot of people. My son is a real person.”
The last week of the year has been a bad one for the McNeill family. Wednesday afternoon, Charlene McNeill took a phone call from her sister-in-law, who lives in Las Vegas.
“She was crying. She said her son killed himself. They think it involved a gun,” said McNeill, who seemed overwhelmed by the drama of the past few days. “I think we’ve been through enough, how about you? I don’t need this at my age. I need peace in my life.”
Her nephew was not quite 40 years old when he shot himself, and his aunt couldn’t explain why he would do so.
Tony McNeill lived most of his life in Las Vegas before moving with his parents to their Henderson condominium 15 years ago.
He was a handyman at the complex until his knee replacement surgery rendered him disabled.
“He spent most of the time sleeping since then,” she said. “He never wanted to do anything. I don’t know why he wanted to kill himself, but I know this family has been through enough.”