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Man killed by North Las Vegas police had woman’s body under bed

Updated January 24, 2019 - 5:00 pm

Four North Las Vegas officers fatally shot a man suspected of killing a woman and hiding her body underneath his bed, as well as the sexual assault and kidnapping of a second woman, police announced Thursday.

The second woman, 35, escaped Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez’s residence Monday night and reported at 8:19 p.m. to the North Las Vegas Police Department’s south station that she had been sexually assaulted and kidnapped, Police Chief Pam Ojeda said Thursday at a press conference. The woman also told police that Ruiz-Rodriguez, whom she knew, had threatened to kill her and warned her of a body underneath his bed.

“She heroically escaped and contacted the police, which alerted us to the possible crimes,” Ojeda said, declining to share specifics of the escape.

Police went to his address at 2109 Glider St., in a residential neighborhood near North Fifth Street and East Lake Mead Boulevard, where they found Ruiz-Rodriguez “visibly agitated” and sitting in a white sedan parked outside the residence, Ojeda said.

Ruiz-Rodriguez didn’t comply with police commands to show his hands and started the car to try to escape, Ojeda said. A sergeant positioned his vehicle behind Ruiz-Rodriguez’s car to prevent him from fleeing. Police initially said he had rammed vehicles to get away, but they reported Thursday that was not the case.

At some point, he had told police he had a gun.

Officers, one of whom had crisis training, tried to de-escalate the situation, Ojeda said. It wasn’t known how long police tried to negotiate with him.

Four officers opened fire at 9:18 p.m. after it appeared he was reaching for his waistband, Ojeda said. Police later found he didn’t have a gun, but they found a cellphone lying near his body.

Ruiz-Rodriguez died at the scene. No officers were injured.

When they searched Ruiz-Rodriguez’s home, officers found found the body of a 32-year-old woman underneath his bed. Ojeda declined to elaborate on how the woman died. It wasn’t known whether Ruiz-Rodriguez knew the deceased. The Clark County coroner’s office hadn’t released her identity or her cause and manner of death as of Thursday morning.

Had Ruiz-Rodriguez survived the shooting, he would have faced charges of murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and obstructing, according to Ojeda. His criminal history includes soliciting for prostitution in 2007 and other minor offenses, police said.

The four officers who opened fire and discharged a total of 19 rounds were identified as Anthony Watkins, 47; Robert Knickerbocker, 45; Edwin Corales, 45; and Tanner McAninch, 26. Watkins has been with the department for 24 years, Knickerbocker for 16 years, Corales for 12 years and McAninch for one year.

The officers were placed on paid administrative leave while the department investigates the shooting.

There is no body-worn camera footage of the incident because the police department hasn’t outfitted its officers with the portable recording devices. A state law required law enforcement agencies to have their officers fully outfitted with the devices by July 1, 2018, though penalties for failing to do so weren’t clear.

A North Las Vegas police spokesman indicated the department was looking to have its officers outfitted with the cameras in the next few months.

The police shooting was the department’s first of the year after having two such shootings last year, one fatal.

The shooting, homicide and sexual assault investigations were ongoing. Police asked anybody with information to call them at 702-633-9111 or Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 to remain anonymous.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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