Michael Todd Lopez approached a cashier’s cage in a Laughlin casino at 1:23 a.m. Monday, carrying a tabloid magazine. Tucked inside the glossy pages was a 9 mm pistol, surveillance footage shows.
As he approached the cashier, sporting sunglasses and a straw hat, he set the magazine down on the counter and demanded money from the woman behind the cage.
It would be the second failed robbery attempt in Laughlin that morning by Lopez, 69, eventually leading to his death following a long standoff with officers. Video footage of the roughly six-hour ordeal, captured by police body cameras and security cameras at the Aquarius hotel-casino, was released Thursday morning at a Metropolitan Police Department news conference.
“This cashier also tells him no and then looks at a security officer standing behind Lopez,” Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly said Thursday.
Nervous, Lopez began walking away as the security guard followed him out of the casino and toward the parking lot, alerting other guards to the situation.
When he reached the parking lot, Kelly said, Lopez suddenly turned around and fired one round at one of the guards but missed.
He then took off running between vehicles until he reached his black pickup truck. Within minutes, according to Kelly, patrol officers had the suspect surrounded in the lot, which is less than a mile from Metro’s substation in Laughlin, an unincorporated Clark County town about 95 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
For the next six hours, Lopez refused police commands to exit the truck and surrender. SWAT and crisis negotiators stepped in shortly after 2:15 a.m., blocking Lopez in with two tactical vehicles, according to Kelly.
Body camera footage showed that Lopez finally emerged from his truck shortly before 7:40 a.m. and had a brief conversation with SWAT officer John Susich.
“This is stupid the way you’re going about this,” Susich, taking cover behind one of the tactical vehicles, can be heard yelling to Lopez in his body camera footage. “Your family is going to have to deal with this for the rest of their lives if you do this. But if you’re still alive —”
“Here he comes. Here here comes. Here he comes,” another officer can be heard yelling, cutting Susich off, as Lopez walks toward the group of SWAT officers. In the body camera footage, Lopez is seen holding his pistol above his head, pointed in the air.
After taking a few steps, the footage showed, Lopez lowered the weapon and pointed it at Susich, who fired five rounds from a 9 mm Glock handgun. At the same time, Kelly said, SWAT officer Cory Mikkelson, 52, fired one round from his rifle.
All six rounds struck Lopez, who collapsed and was pronounced dead near the tactical vehicle, according to Kelly.
About a half-hour before he had entered the Aquarius, Lopez tried to rob the Golden Nugget’s cashier cage in the same fashion. That cashier also refused Lopez’s demands.
Lopez’s past convictions show a decadeslong history of robbery and burglary across Nevada and California.
He was convicted in 1983 in Nevada of attempted robbery, attempted burglary and transporting stolen property. In California, his convictions included robbery, bank robbery, transporting stolen goods and assault with a deadly weapon.
Had he survived the encounter with Metro on Monday, Kelly said, Lopez would have faced charges of attempted murder, attempted robbery and burglary, assault on a protected person and a weapons charge for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Susich and Mikkelson have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of Metro’s internal investigation.