Las Vegas police said a series of shootings last week, including two that left homeless men dead as they slept on the sidewalk, appear to be related.
One man is responsible for shooting four men with his revolver at random, police said. Two of the men survived.
“We must stop this man before he shoots and kills someone else,” Metropolitan Police Department homicide Capt. Robert Plummer said Tuesday.
He said the FBI defines a serial killer as someone who kills at least three people on separate occasions with at least a month lapse between two of the killings.
“I will say, after killing two people and shooting two others, if he isn’t, he’s on his way to being one,” Plummer said.
Plummer said the recent close-range shootings began on Jan. 29, just after midnight, when a man was shot in a gas station parking lot in Logandale, about 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
A few hours later in Las Vegas, 51-year old Brian Wayne Clegg was shot to death as he slept outside a swap meet near Rancho Drive and Washington Avenue.
That same day, another homeless man was shot in the face as he slept near Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard, but he survived.
Early Friday, 64-year-old James Lewis was shot dead as he slept near 14th Street and U.S. Highway 95.
All but one of the shooting victims were homeless.
“Forensically, the evidence connected all four shootings,” Plummer said.
Metro has increased its patrol presence in areas heavily populated by homeless people, he said. The department also notified law enforcement agencies in Arizona, Utah and California of the shootings.
“We care about our homeless just as much as we care about the residents that live in Summerlin or Spanish Trails, Henderson, wherever,” Plummer said.
Homeless people have been targeted in numerous attacks in the past year.
Police said the case was linked to the deaths of two homeless men who were fatally beaten while sleeping in the same area where mannequin was attacked in downtown Las Vegas. Prosecutors agreed not file charges in the killings during plea negotiations.
According to his arrest report, Thompson told a neighbor he shot Alfred Wilhelm, 53, because he disliked sex offenders. He also told the neighbor he shot and killed 27-year-old Rhonda Ballow because she refused to leave, according to the report.
Kyle Wallis, 54, has been homeless for the past five months but has spent most of his time in a shelter. He wasn’t aware of the recent violence but said he doesn’t feel safe when he has to sleep on the streets.
“I usually have a rock by me,” he said from a bus stop along Las Vegas Boulevard North, near Washington.
When he ends up on the streets, Wallis does his best to sleep near police surveillance cameras that flash red and blue lights above Foremaster Lane, near Main Street, in case something happens while he sleeps.
James Brunson, 51, has been living in the area for the past two months. When night falls on one of Las Vegas’ most highly concentrated areas for homeless people, Brunson doesn’t sleep.
“I’m on point,” he said.
If he is lucky, Brunson said, he will get about an hour of sleep just before sunrise.
Brunson kept a gun in his tent before the firearm was stolen, he said, and others who live in the area are armed in case they get attacked. People who live in the area look out for each other, Brunson said.
“We’ve got to,” he said.