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Man arrested in east Las Vegas stabbing spree said cartel was ‘coming for him’

The man arrested after a string of random stabbings in east Las Vegas early Wednesday said he acted out of fear that the cartel was “coming for him,” an arrest report released Friday shows.

One man was killed and another was injured in the stabbings, which happened near Charleston and Lamb boulevards between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Wednesday, police said. Richi Briones, 32, faces one count each of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Briones did not admit to the stabbings, but he told police he chased a third man while armed with a knife “because he was a hit man for the cartel,” according to the report. Briones believed the cartel had killed his family in various states, he told detectives, and he admitted to using methamphetamine Tuesday night.

The report did not detail why Briones believed the cartel was trying to kill him, but records show Briones has a history of erratic behavior. In November, he was arrested and placed on a mental health hold after dousing himself in lighter fluid with the intention of lighting himself on fire and running into traffic, records show.

The Wednesday ordeal began about 9:30 a.m., when a man armed with a long, survival-type knife threatened another man in an alley near Charleston and Lamb. The man being threatened ran to a nearby gas station as the armed man chased after him.

Once inside, the man being threatened called 911, and the man with a knife disappeared.

About five minutes later, police said Briones attempted to buy a shotgun at the nearby Big 5 Sporting Goods, 4275 E. Charleston Blvd. Inside the store, surveillance footage showed Briones filling out paperwork to purchase the gun for several minutes.

“He was not allowed to purchase the weapon because of his past history and left the store without a firearm,” the report said. Briones was arrested for domestic violence in 2015, and was recently arrested a few weeks ago on domestic violence charges in California.

At about 10:13 a.m., a man was randomly stabbed while standing next to his work truck at the nearby Culia Can Sushi restaurant, 4420 E. Charleston Blvd., the report said. The man stabbed told police he was approached from behind “without provocation,” then a knife was plunged into his right side.

The man was taken to University Medical Center in “extremely critical condition,” the report said.

About 30 minutes later, police received a set of separate calls about another stabbing: Balente Gonzalez, 31, was purchasing items at a 551 N. Lamb Blvd. gas station when a man with a similar description stabbed Gonzalez in the neck and right side, then ran out of the store.

Gonzalez died at University Medical Center. He is survived by his wife, Angleica Villagomez, and his three children, according to a GoFundMe account created in Gonzalez’s name.

Briones was arrested about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at a bus stop near Boulder Station. He had blood on his shirt and four knives on his person, the report said. He is expected in court Monday morning.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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