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Las Vegas motorist accused of hit-and-run tried burning car, police say

Updated May 31, 2024 - 7:39 pm

A motorist accused of killing a pedestrian in central Las Vegas last month fled the scene and intentionally charred and ditched his car in a deserted area, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

In an interview with detectives, Manuel Mendoza Jr. admitted hitting Robert Bager on April 20 near North Main Street and Foremaster Avenue, according to his arrest report.

He denied burning his Chrysler Sebring, which was found near Henderson hours after the fatal crash, police said.

The 29-year-old suspect was arrested a week ago at Las Vegas Justice Court, where he had showed up to a hearing for an unrelated Las Vegas robbery case, police said.

Mendoza was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on one count each of felony failure to stop at the scene of a crash, and destroying or concealing evidence, records show.

Bager was crossing outside a designated area shortly after 8 p.m., police said. He died at the scene.

Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from moments leading to the crash, which showed the Chrysler’s driver speeding, the report said.

Chipped paint, additional video, car parts left at the scene and eyewitness accounts and license plate readers helped investigators identify the car, police added.

Police later connected the burned car to Mendoza with the help of an arson investigator, the report said.

The report said Mendoza broke down after he was arrested, and said he drove away because he had panicked. He said he didn’t know who burned his car.

Mendoza, who is being held without bail, is due in court June 12, records show.

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

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