Las Vegas police investigate shooting victim found dead in SUV

Updated February 19, 2018 - 6:08 pm

Between 7 and 8 p.m. Sunday, some residents at Devonshire Apartments at Vegas Valley Drive near Mountain Vista Street in the southeast valley heard multiple gunshots.

Julio Bonilla heard them from his apartment. He hunkered down by his window, but he didn’t see anything.

Joan Lavely and her husband, Robert, also recognized the bangs. When they went outside, they spotted a patrol car across the street.

None of them called police — that is, until 9:45 a.m. Monday, when another resident saw a black man slumped behind the wheel of a gold Ford Expedition, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Dan McGrath said.

The man was dead.

“That’s a challenge for us. We urge people who hear gunshots to call the police,” McGrath said. “When gunshots are reported, an officer will be here immediately. Please call us.”

The SUV was parked in front of the apartment complex’s office. Shell casings from at least two shots fired into the vehicle were sprinkled on the ground by the passenger side, where the window was either rolled down or shot out.

McGrath said the dead man appeared to be in his 20s. He suffered at least one gunshot wound to his upper body and one to the leg. No witnesses saw how he died, but multiple people heard the shooting.

Police think the man’s vehicle entered the complex around 6:30 p.m., but they are still trying to figure out “what happened to him, why he was here, and who he was,” McGrath said. “We don’t have a lot of information on this one or what the motive is.”

McGrath said police do not think the victim lived in the complex, where in December another man was killed when a shooter shot at him at least seven times, through his apartment from the outside and when he jumped from an outside stairway. He was hit twice.

On Monday, 49-year-old Bonilla retrieved his binoculars to look out on the scene of crime tape and the gold SUV, which had a visible bullet hole on the driver’s window.

“There’s a body right there,” he said, squinting into his binoculars.

Bonilla said he would have called the police if he had seen anything.

As a white Davis Funeral Homes van pulled up to the crime tape, 81-year-old Joan Lavely and her husband, Robert, 70, stood outside in their pajamas, shivering from the cold valley winds.

“This is what the world has come to,” Joan Lavely said, watching as those at the scene put up a curtain to shield the public from viewing the body.

The couple have been living in their unit for three years, but they also lived in a different unit at the complex for 10 years and said they always felt safe.

“We like it here,” Robert Lavely said.

Contact Briana Erickson at or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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