weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Prosecutors could consider death penalty for Starbucks shooting suspect

Prosecutors likely will consider capital punishment for a 34-year-old man accused of fatally shooting a Las Vegas Starbucks customer.

The case against five-time felon Pedro Jose Garcia is expected to be reviewed by a death penalty committee, Chief Deputy District Attorney Frank Coumou said Friday after a brief court hearing.

Garcia, who faces one count each of open murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, burglary with a deadly weapon, discharging a gun into an occupied structure and possession of a gun by a prohibited person, is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

The shooting late Sunday morning appeared to be a random act, and Garcia did not know the victim, 41-year-old Aleksandr Khutsishvili of Las Vegas, authorities said.

Garcia quarreled with another man at the coffee shop after his bank card was declined at the drive-thru window, police said.

The suspect told detectives he saw a man in Starbucks “who looked like he had something,” and that man was shot by an “unknown person,” a police report said. But he may have given a different version of events to a 911 operator moments after the shooting.

A man who identified himself as Garcia told an operator that he had just shot a man inside the coffee shop, the report stated. That caller also said the man who was shot appeared to be reaching for something.

The 911 operator reportedly heard the victim moaning in the background during the call.

While the operator tried to get more information, the caller was heard saying, “Go for it, Dog, I’m not gonna tell you again, go for it; play cowboy with me, Dog,” according to the report.

The dispatch operator told the man to put down the gun and turn himself in to the police outside. Police said the man told officers there was an explosive device in a backpack inside the store, leading to a SWAT standoff and the evacuation of nearby businesses before police could enter the coffee shop.

There was no such device. Khutsishvili died of a gunshot wound to the chest at Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center.

Several witnesses pointed to Garcia for the shooting, according to his arrest record.

The handgun police recovered at the scene had been fired three times. A records check on the gun showed it was not registered or stolen, the police report said.

Garcia was convicted of possession of a stolen vehicle in 2001. He was convicted on federal charges for drugs and weapons in 2009, court records show.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons search showed that Garcia was released from prison in November.

He is due back in Las Vegas Justice Court next week.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.