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Fight among youths preceded Las Vegas mall shooting

Updated January 28, 2020 - 7:20 pm

A shooting at Fashion Show mall last week that injured three people happened after “two groups of youths” got in a fight, according to an arrest report.

The Metropolitan Police Department has said the shooting happened about 6:15 p.m. Jan. 21 after a fight broke out in the mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South. The day after the shooting, police arrested 18-year-old Christopher Valenzuela-Olivas, who faces three charges of attempted murder.

Police have said that Valenzuela-Olivas and an acquaintance were arguing with someone as they walked through the mall before Valenzuela-Olivas is suspected of opening fire, striking one of the people he was arguing with and “two innocent bystanders.”

According to Valenzuela-Olivas’ heavily redacted arrest report, which Metro released to the Review-Journal on Tuesday evening, the fight broke out between “two groups of youths,” and the shooting happened near the mall’s first-floor entrance to Dillard’s.

“It should be noted this incident caused a massive public safety (100+ police officers from numerous agencies) response and caused hundreds of citizens to be terrorized,” a detective wrote in the report.

‘Thought they were disrespectful’

One witness said he was walking with at least two other people when he saw two “males walking through the mall.” The witness said he “and the male he recognized exchanged words about knowing each other and (redacted) thought they were disrespectful,” the report said.

Another witness said his group “disregarded the males at first but decided that they would go outside and fight.”

When both groups got near the Dillard’s entrance, one person punched another in the face. Valenzuela-Olivas is then suspected of pulling out a firearm and shooting one person in the opposing group in the face and chest, the report said.

Another person who was shot said he was sitting on a bench in front of Dillard’s when he heard the gunfire. He noticed he had been hit as he ran to find his family, the report said.

The third person shot said he saw a group of “three males walking together” through the mall. He told police he saw a fistfight break out, heard gunshots and started to run, the report said.

“(Redacted) felt like he got punched in the face and then noticed he was bleeding profusely,” the report said.

The three people shot were expected to survive, police have said.

Both Valenzuela-Olivas and the person he was with fled the scene before police arrived, police said. As of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if anyone else would face charges in the case.

Police identified Valenzuela-Olivas through mall video surveillance and through high school records. The name of the school was redacted in the report.

Arrested after traffic stop

Officers on Jan. 22 arrested Valenzela-Olivas after a traffic stop on the 6500 block of Lake Mead Boulevard, near Hollywood Boulevard, the report said.

The 18-year-old told police he was at the Fashion Show mall the night of the shooting and that he got in a fight, but he declined to answer questions regarding the shooting.

Through a search warrant at Valenzuela-Olivas’ home, police found the shirt he was seen wearing in surveillance footage. Police also found three handguns and ammunition in the home.

Two substantial sections of the arrest report released Tuesday were redacted, and in the reasoning for the redaction, Metro cited “law enforcement privilege” and that the information would be a danger to victims or witnesses.

Metro also cited “Marsy’s Law,” which was approved in November 2018 as a modification to Nevada’s Constitution meant to expand crime victims’ rights, including the right to privacy.

Valenzuela-Olivas has posted $100,000 bail, defense attorney John Turco told reporters Monday. Turco previously suggested that the shooting was in self-defense, and said one of the victims admitted to punching Valenzuela-Olivas’ friend.

As of Tuesday afternoon, jail records show that Valenzuela-Olivas remained in the Clark County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for March 30.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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