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Man shot by officers in confrontation near Red Rock Canyon entrance

Updated November 11, 2021 - 2:46 pm

Law enforcement shot a man near the Red Rock Canyon scenic loop visitor center Thursday after he used his pickup to ram patrol cars, authorities said.

Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Travis Smaka said at a news briefing that troopers, officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and Bureau of Land Management rangers responded before 8 a.m. to a report of a driver, possibly armed, in distress near the scenic loop entry.

When they arrived, the man used his black Toyota Tacoma to ram police vehicles and was shot, Smaka said. The man survived and was taken into custody. Smaka said he is in his late 20s.

Smaka said NHP troopers shot at the man, and authorities are investigating how many officers in total fired their weapons. Metro said in an earlier news release that its officers did not discharge their weapons. The shooting closed the scenic tourist attraction for the day.

The Red Rock Canyon LV Twitter account tweeted about the closure just before 8 a.m. on a day when the park was to waive its usual entry fees for the Veterans Day holiday.

“The Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive will be closed until further notice today,” the tweet said. “We know that lots of folks want to get out and enjoy the great weather for Veterans Day, so head to our website to check out alternate locations.”

The tweet then directed people to an online web page that lists trails outside the 13-mile scenic loop.

Metro issued a news release a short time later saying it was investigating the incident.

The closure disrupted plans for a hiking trip for Steve Kulczyk and his family who were visiting Las Vegas from Buffalo, New York.

“We are out here on vacation in Las Vegas, been coming here for years,” he said. “Red Rock is always one of the places we stop. We love hiking the trails but we got here and saw this.”

Kulczyk said he and family were changing plans but described it as a minor inconvenience after learning there was a shooting involving an NHP trooper.

“We just hope no one has been killed or seriously injured,” he said. “That’s all we are really thinking about right now.”

Diana Reyes of San Francisco, visiting Las Vegas this week to celebrate her birthday with friends, arrived to take an e-bike tour at the scenic loop only to discover the loop closed with police blocking the entry.

“I’m pretty shocked,” she said. “I thought Las Vegas was a lot safer. We were looking at the local news and there is a lot of shooting going on.”

Inconvenienced locals who came to hike on a fee-free day expressed dismay that a shooting happened at such a beautiful place.

“I thought the park was full at first because it’s a fee free day but then I saw the crime scene back there,” said hiker Frank Imparto of Las Vegas. “It’s kind of surprising it could happen at a place like this. Everybody comes here for recreation and not to really bring any bad intentions.”

Imparto said he would likely drive to Mount Charleston to get his hike in. Las Vegas hiker Drew Kaufmann expressed similar sentiments, saying, “Today’s plans have changed but it could be worse for someone else.”

Multiple tourists stopped along the roadside to ask reporters what happened. Some got out and took snapshots of the massive police presence on the loop with dozens of police vehicles parked in front of the mountainous background.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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