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NLV killings rise by 140%; All 12 victims die from guns

Updated April 8, 2024 - 9:35 am

The shooting deaths of five women at two unrelated scenes in nearby North Las Vegas neighborhoods within a week in March helped more than double the number of homicides city police investigated during the first quarter of the year, compared with the first three months of 2023.

As of Wednesday, North Las Vegas police said detectives had investigated a dozen criminal homicides, up from five during the first three months of 2023.

Every 2024 victim died from gunshot wounds, according to records kept by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And all but three of those killings occurred in March.

“While there has been an increase in the number of homicides this year to day, the facts and circumstances of each case very widely,” a police spokesperson wrote in an email to the Review-Journal.

Police officials did not count the police shooting death of a suspect whom they said killed three women on March 12 in an apartment complex in the 2200 block of East Nelson Avenue, just north of the intersection of Civic Center Drive and East Carey Avenue.

Two officers fatally shot Edward Brooks, 43, in the complex’s courtyard after he walked toward them while refusing to drop a gun, police said.

Police said that they then discovered the bodies of Brooks’ three victims and the remains of a dog in two apartments. A young child was found unharmed.

Investigators believe Brooks was staying at one of the units, according to police, who didn’t expand on the possible connection between the shooter and the women.

The victims were: Africa Woods-McGill, 52, Venus Hart, 48, and Tiffany Mawhorter, 42, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.

Hart’s daughter, Annalissa King, described her mother in an online fundraiser as a wonderful parent and a “doting grandmother.”

A week later, police responded to a shooting in a neighborhood about 1 mile away — in the 2000 block of North McCarran Street — and found two dead women who were later identified by the coroner’s office as Odaly Lopez-Diaz, 24, and Silian Jimenez-Bobadilla, 27.

Police, who haven’t announced an arrest or possible description of the shooter, described the killings as an “isolated incident.”

And that was the case in 10 of the first-quarter killings.

“It is well-known that a majority of homicides are cases in which the parties know each other, and (North Las Vegas police) detectives believe that this is true for all but two of the cases this year,” the police spokesperson wrote.

Police did not make a department official available for an interview, and queries sent to the North Las Vegas City Council about the five women’s deaths went unanswered.

North Las Vegas police investigated 31 homicides in all of 2023, about a 15 percent uptick compared to the previous year.

Only four of those killings were deemed justified, police previously told the Review-Journal.

The police spokesperson said investigators had solved nine of the dozen 2024 homicides, noting that North Las Vegas’ 75 percent solve rate was well-above the 52 percent national average.

North Las Vegas police has investigated seven other criminal homicides this year.

Jan. 21: Earnest Phillips, 77, was shot during a family dispute at a home in the 3900 block of West Alexander Road. There is no record of an arrest in the killing.

Feb. 14: A man in his 30s was found shot to death in an apartment complex parking lot in the 1000 block of East Carey Avenue. Police arrested Celester Mayfield, 52, the following day. Records show that Mayfield was arraigned in District Court Thursday on a murder charge.

Feb. 29: Devon Penn, 16, was shot in broad daylight in a business’s parking lot in the 5900 block of Losee Road. The Arbor View High School student-athlete, who was in the football and track teams, died at University Medical Center. Police have not announced any arrests.

March 6: Marcos Kakogui, 19, and a 16-year-old boy were shot near Wilkinson Way and Dillon Avenue — a neighborhood near Pecos Road and Carey Avenue — in the late afternoon. Both victims were taken to University Medical Center, where Kakogui died. Police have not released additional information.

March 11: Justin N. Smith, 28, died six days after he was found shot in the driver’s seat of a crashed vehicle on March 6 in the 60 block of Dreamy Hill Avenue, a neighborhood near North Commerce Street and East Tropical Parkway. There is no record of an arrest in the killing.

March 12: Darreal Biddle-Bennett, 23, was shot in the parking lot of a business in the 400 block of West Carey Avenue. He drove away, but crashed into a nearby wall. No additional details have been released.

March 14: Lewis Rand, 28, died at University Medical Center following a shooting in the 1900 block of Solana Del Norte Way. On March 27, Las Vegas police arrested a suspect, Steve Vidana-Garcia, 30, after a police chase in a stolen vehicle he allegedly drove recklessly. According to his arrest report, he was taken into custody as he tried to break into a second vehicle. Vidana-Garcia was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on several charges, including murder.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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