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Henderson police have few answers in death of war vet

Updated September 11, 2017 - 12:22 pm

More than three months after Robert Gamboa was attacked at a Henderson bus stop, the 71-year-old Vietnam War Navy veteran died from complications of blunt force head trauma.

His July 21 death was ruled a homicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.

Tony Gamboa said his father was sitting at a bus stop on the night of April 2, across from the Rainbow Club and Casino on Water Street, when he was attacked by three people. He was on his way to his son’s home.

But in the months following the attack, the Henderson Police Department has been tight-lipped. The Police Department has released no details about Robert Gamboa’s death, citing an open investigation.

“What I can tell you is that a detective has been assigned to the case,” department spokesman Rod Pena told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday. “But I can’t comment on anything because it’s still active.”

Pena did, however, confirm that officers were called just before 9:20 p.m. to the area of Water Street and West Atlantic Avenue, near the casino, on the same night as the incident described by Tony Gamboa.

In the months following the attack, Robert Gamboa, a father to five sons and one daughter, was determined to survive. He wanted to stand next to his son on his wedding day and to meet his great-granddaughter.

“Everything good is happening so close to his death,” Tony Gamboa said.

Now, the youngest Gamboa, born just one week after Robert’s death, will grow up without her great-grandfather.

“He was just so excited to meet her,” said Tony Gamboa, who has been busy with preparations for his upcoming wedding.

But on Sept. 23, when Tony Gamboa marries Brianna Valadez, he said he’ll be thinking of his dad.

“I really just wish he could be there with me,” he added, speaking almost at a whisper.

‘Radio silence’

Seventeen. That’s how many security cameras Army veteran Ricky Hillis counted in the area where Robert Gamboa, whom he described as his “fallen brother,” was attacked.

As the Gamboas juggle the emotions of losing a loved one while welcoming two new family members, Robert’s second family, the Henderson veterans community, has grown frustrated with police.

“It’s just total radio silence from them,” said Hillis, Gamboa’s longtime friend. “There’s enough of us concerned veterans wondering what’s going on, and it seems like police aren’t doing anything.”

Days after Hillis learned that Gamboa had died, he led a group of veterans out into Henderson to find some answers.

They counted cameras. They talked to anyone who knew the man. They called police with their tips.

“We look after our own, but we expect the police to take care of something like this,” Hillis said.

On Friday, the Police Department still had no details to release on the killing.

“Generally speaking, the last thing we’d want to do is release details that could ruin an investigation,” Pena said.

But Tony Gamboa continues to hope that police will solve the crime.

“I’m just glad they’re working the case,” he said.

Review-Journal records indicate that Gamboa’s death marks the 122nd homicide in Clark County and the sixth homicide investigated in Henderson this year.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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