71°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Suspect arrested in January shooting death in east Las Vegas

Updated May 22, 2019 - 1:42 pm

From more than 1,900 miles away, Candace Nelson has spent months trying to piece together her son’s last moments.

“It’s horrible. It’s heinous. It’s so sad,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday. “And to be so far away …”

On Jan. 25, Eric Nelson, 28, lay alone and bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds on a sidewalk on the 1100 block of Newport Street for at least a half-hour before someone called 911.

By then it was too late.

Las Vegas police have said the first gunshot was heard as early as 7:40 a.m., but the first and only 911 call reporting the shooting came at 8:11 a.m., when a person driving through the neighborhood saw Nelson on the sidewalk.

Since then, Candace Nelson, who lives in Grand Ledge, Michigan, where her son had grown up, said she has been tirelessly searching for answers. She has spoken to dozens of her son’s friends and regularly calls the detectives working on the case for updates.

Some answers finally surfaced last week after the Metropolitan Police Department arrested Eric Nelson’s friend, 25-year-old Mateo Marcos Diaz-Ibarra, on one count of murder. Denied bail, he remained in custody at the Clark County Detention Center as of Saturday, records show. His preliminary hearing is set for May 29.

But one question continues to eat away at Candace Nelson: Why?

“Under no circumstance is there any justification for my son to be murdered,” she said.

Diaz-Ibarra’s arrest report, obtained by the Review-Journal on Thursday, details Metro’s monthslong effort to link the suspect to the killing, but nowhere does the nine-page report outline why Eric Nelson was shot to death by his own friend.

‘Quick to anger’

When police arrived that January morning in the neighborhood near East Washington Avenue and North Pecos Road, they found four Remington .45-caliber casings, according to his arrest report.

Other than those casings, in the early stages of the investigation, the report shows, police had little to go on. There were no witnesses to the shooting, and Eric Nelson did not live in the neighborhood.

But the next day, police heard from a friend of both Eric Nelson and Diaz-Ibarra.

“(He) said when he learned Eric had been shot in that neighborhood, he needed to come forward and tell police about Diaz-Ibarra,” the report said.

He told police that Diaz-Ibarra, who “is erratic, quick to anger and often carries a firearm,” lived nearby and was known to purchase drugs from a house in the neighborhood where Eric Nelson had been killed.

After that interview, police obtained Diaz-Ibarra’s cellphone records and video surveillance near the scene. They also interviewed more mutual friends and even Diaz-Ibarra’s mother, who persuaded her son to call the detectives.

On March 20, police interviewed Diaz-Ibarra for the first time.

The report shows Diaz-Ibarra offered investigators information that later helped show probable cause for his arrest: He admitted to recently buying a .40-caliber handgun from Discount Firearms and Ammo, confirmed he was friends with Eric Nelson and identified both his phone number and his vehicle as a red pickup, the same one seen in video surveillance from the morning of the killing.

With this information, detectives then presented him with his cellphone records, which placed him near Washington and Pecos between 7:37 a.m. and 7:41 a.m. on Jan. 25.

At that point, Diaz-Ibarra stopped talking.

After the interview, investigators pulled receipts from Discount Firearms showing that on Dec. 30, Diaz-Ibarra had bought a .45-caliber Remington along with 20 rounds. The head stamp on those casings matched those found next to Eric Nelson’s body, according to the report.

Another receipt showed that, on the same day of the shooting, he bought a .40-caliber handgun.

“Your affiant knows through investigative experience and training that subjects who commit violent acts with firearms will often get rid of the weapon and seek a new one in an attempt to separate themselves from the weapon used in a previous crime,” detectives wrote.

‘He wanted opportunity’

Eric Nelson’s body was returned to Michigan after his autopsy. And his mother keeps his ashes close by at all times.

“That way I know he’s safe with me,” she said.

Until his memorial service, she hadn’t seen her son since 2015, when he moved to Las Vegas.

“He wanted the big lights, big city. He wanted opportunity,” Candace Nelson said, noting that her son had dreamed of one day making it big as a rapper. “But I wish people in Vegas knew the real Eric.”

According to Raquel Martinez, who had been friends with Candace Nelson’s son since middle school, the “real Eric” was “a caring, nice, charismatic and loving person.”

“I want people to know that Eric wasn’t the type to be out running the streets or involved with gangs or any stupid stereotype that people might try to attach him to since he is yet another young black male that was murdered,” she said. “Eric had a magnetic personality that just drew people to him and was always a genuine person.”

With dozens of Eric Nelson’s friends and his brothers, Candace Nelson said she will continue to follow the case closely, though she is nearly 2,000 miles away.

“He was 28. But in my eyes, I see my baby, my first born, my little baseball player,” she said. “That’s what people don’t take into consideration when they kill someone.”

He leaves behind his four younger brothers, Aaron, Adrian, Evan and Adam, and “so many friends” who loved him, his mom said.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
CCSD police on the arrest of Deamonte Warren - VIDEO
CCSD police arrested Chaparral High School custodian Deamonte Warren on Friday on three counts of a school employee having sex with a student and an additional count of providing alcohol to a minor. (Courtesy CCSD Police)
Woman charged with sex trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip (Michael Quine)
Gigi Mitchell faces seven felony charges including sex trafficking and child abuse for bringing an 11-year-old girl to the Las Vegas Strip to work as a prostitute.
Bel Air Drive Officer Involved Shooting Presser - Video
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly goes over the officer-involved shooting on Bel Air Drive.
Former Las Vegas police officer get 25 life sentences for sexually abusing child
Former Las Vegas Police officer Bret Theil was sentences to 25 consecutive life sentences at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for sexually abusing a child over a decade. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Man pushed off bus in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police arrested 25-year-old Cadesha Bishop on May 6, after she allegedly pushed Serge Fournier, 74, off of a parked bus near Fremont Street and 13th Street about 4:50 p.m. March 21.(Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
$1 million bail set for mother charged with drowning 2-year-old daughter
The 44-year-old mother who police say drowned her 2-year-old daughter in a bathtub in a northeast Las Vegas apartment on Saturday made her first court appearance on Tuesday, May 14th.
Officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child appears in court
Matthew James Terry, a Las Vegas police officer arrested on suspicion of lewdness with a child, appears in court Monday morning, May 13, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek hit-and-run driver
A motorcycle officer pulled over a Mercedes SUV, and after the officer came to a stop, it shifted into reverse, intentionally hitting the officer.
Thedrick Andres becomes Henderson Police Department acting chief
Henderson Police Department Acting Chief Thedrick Andres speaks about his goals in his new position at the Henderson Police headquarters, Monday, April 29, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2 dead, 1 wounded after east valley neighborhood shooting
One man and one woman are dead and another man wounded after a shooting Thursday afternoon in an east valley neighborhood.
Bail denied for former police detective charged with murder
Bail was denied Tuesday for former Metropolitan Police Department detective, Pamela Rene Bordeaux who is accused of fatally shooting her daughter’s ex-husband during supervised visitation with his child.
Third suspect in death of California doctor appears in court
The third and final suspect in the killing of a California doctor, Jon Kennison, 27, appears in court Friday, April 19, 2019. Kennison, Kelsey Nichole Turner, a former model, and Diana Pena, face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
DEA Launches New Program To Combat Opioid Epidemic
The Drug Enforcement Administration is launching a new effort in Nevada to combat the opioid epidemic.
THE LATEST