A man who shot seven people at a slaying victim’s funeral Wednesday night was trying to kill a witness to the slaying, a police source said Thursday.
The source, who was briefed on the incident, said the target of the shooting was Steven Velasquez, 23.
Velasquez was attending 21-year-old Andres Elena’s funeral at Palm Mortuary in downtown Las Vegas about
7 p.m. when a man at the service pulled a handgun and began firing at him.
Velasquez was not struck. Six other adults and one teenager were shot, but none of their injuries appeared life-threatening.
“This guy (the suspect) obviously sprayed a whole bunch of other people in the process,” the source said.
Elena was stabbed to death on a Strip pedestrian walkway June 25 during a fight with another group of adult Hispanic men. Velasquez, a friend of Elena’s, also was stabbed that night.
The source said Velasquez was targeted because he cooperated with the investigation into Elena’s death.
Victor Quijano, 25, was arrested and charged with murder in the stabbing, but Velasquez also identified several other suspects now wanted by police, the source said.
According to a police report, the June 25 altercation between Quijano’s group and Elena’s group began at Planet Hollywood, when Velasquez offended a woman with Quijano.
The two groups exchanged words, and security officers kicked the men out, the report said.
Later that night, the two groups ran into each other on a pedestrian walkway between the MGM Grand and New York-New York.
A fight erupted, and Velasquez is alleged to have broken a glass bottle over the head of one man.
Quijano then stabbed both Velasquez and Elena, according to the report. Quijano admitted to detectives that he stabbed two people but he claimed self-defense, police said.
Many individuals among the two groups were affiliated with gangs, police said.
Police said the prime suspect in the funeral shooting is a man last seen fleeing south on Main Street in a 1970s model Chevrolet El Camino. He has not been identified.
Part of the vehicle was painted purple, and the number 7 was painted on both sides. The car had chrome rims, police said.
Police said the shooter mixed in with others attending the funeral.
“He appeared to initially mingle … and then fired multiple rounds at a group of mourners,” spokesman officer Bill Cassell said Wednesday night.
More than 50 friends and family members gathered at University Medical Center after the shooting Wednesday, and almost all declined comment.
“We don’t want no retaliation coming back to us,” said a woman who wouldn’t give her name. “We’re just trying to protect ourselves.”
Several friends contacted through social media networks also declined comment.
Police did not officially comment on the funeral shooting Thursday.
The source said Velasquez fled after the incident and had not been located by police as of Thursday afternoon.
The incident was not the first reported shooting in Las Vegas at a funeral.
In 2004, 35-year-old Gwendolyn Jones was shot and killed at her sister’s wake in a drive-by shooting hours after the funeral.
Police said that shooting was gang-related and a retaliation for an earlier shooting.
Wednesday’s shooting was the latest incident in a string of mayhem in Las Vegas, which saw three slayings and an officer-involved shooting in 11 days.
The violence started with Elena’s death on June 25.
On Monday morning, a fight between two groups of men on the walkway between The Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood ended with another fatal stabbing.
Javier Medrano-Padilla, 21, died from multiple stab wounds, and Pedro Carlos Robledo, 28, was arrested on murder charges.
On Monday night, Luis Carlos Silva, 54, was shot and killed by Las Vegas police after he is reported to have pointed a gun at officers responding to a domestic disturbance at his home.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.