Updated December 18, 2019 - 10:54 pm
No one called 911 when they heard gunfire in an east valley neighborhood Wednesday night, but Las Vegas police went to the scene and found a man dead from a gunshot wound after a notification from gunshot detection technology.
Metropolitan Police Department homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said that about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, police got a notification from ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system made up by a network of audio sensors. When officers arrived in the neighborhood, they found multiple bullet shell casings on the 1300 block of Crestwood Avenue, near Charleston Boulevard and Eastern Avenue.
Metro Lt. Ken Nogle said about 7:45 p.m., officers were called to the 2000 block of Wengert Avenue, which is near the road’s intersection with Crestwood.
Spencer said that after officers found the shell casings on Crestwood, they followed a “trail of fluid” about 200 yards north to find a car that had crashed into an unoccupied, parked car. In the driver’s seat of the car that crashed was a man dead from an apparent gunshot wound.
Metro dispatch logs show that a vehicle stop was called in about 6:55 p.m. on the 2000 block of Wengert.
Because no one called 911 to report the gunfire, Spencer said police were still looking for witnesses Wednesday night.
Spencer said the ShotSpotter program was the only way police knew to go out and investigate the neighborhood.
“There is often gunfire that goes unreported to police,” he said.
Jean Paz, 23, was standing with a group outside a home Wednesday night on the corner of Crestwood and Sweeney Avenue, about a block from the crime scene, as detectives scoured the ground with flashlights down the road. Paz said his sister-in-law was home alone when she heard about nine shots Wednesday evening.
Paz said his sister-in-law didn’t call 911 in part because gunshots are common in the area. He said the woman also heard a car speeding away.
“She hears (gunshots) a lot, she’s always home,” he said. “It’s pretty common here; there’s always a helicopter flying around.”
The ShotSpotter program started in 2017 as a pilot program, and Metro announced in October that it had been expanded to more than 23 square miles of the valley.
The gunfire detection technology was initially installed in three undisclosed neighborhoods within the department’s southeast, south central and northeast valley patrol areas. Wednesday’s shooting fell in the southeast patrol area.
The expansion announced in October will soon cover portions of the valley including the southwest, northwest and downtown area. Metro said the expansion would cover eight of 11 persistent “hot spots” of violent crime in the valley, Lt. Dori Koren, the department’s ShotSpotter program manager, said in October.
The sensors pick up loud sounds that resemble gunshots, and if enough sensors are activated, then a notification is sent to an acoustic expert at the ShotSpotter company headquarters in Newark, California. The expert then determines if the sound was a legitimate gunshot, and if it is, the expert then notifies Metro of the time, number and location of the shots.
Koren said in October that the expanded program was expected to be fully functional by December.
Wednesday’s shooting marked the 103rd Metro homicide investigation this year, according to records maintained by the Review-Journal. The man who died will be identified by the Clark County coroner’s office after his family has been notified.