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Prosecutor: Suspect in Las Vegas cop’s shooting admitted firing gun

Updated June 4, 2020 - 12:00 pm

Prosecutors laid out more details surrounding the shooting of Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis, telling a judge on Thursday that the suspect admitted firing his gun outside Circus Circus.

About three hours after Mikalonis was critically wounded, police found 20-year-old Edgar Samaniego at a nearby Travelodge early Tuesday.

He “admitted to police that he had fired a shot but claimed that he was just trying to scare the protesters into leaving and did not even know police were there,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Thomas Moskal said during a hearing for Samaniego on unrelated DUI and drug charges.

Authorities have said Samaniego fired the shot from 50 feet away as Mikalonis was handcuffing an individual. The officer immediately collapsed, with a bullet lodged in the right side of his face, according to Samaniego’s arrest report.

“Officers did not see where the gunfire came from, but immediately began treating Officer Mikalonis, as well as getting the prisoners to safety,” the report stated.

Police closed down streets “in all directions while officers attempted to locate the suspect,” the report stated.

Video surveillance at the scene of the shooting late Monday night showed Samaniego walking away from Las Vegas Boulevard, turning over his left shoulder and reaching for what appeared to be a gun before Mikalonis was shot, prosecutors have said. Police later found cartridges that matched Samaniego’s weapon at the scene and on a balcony at the Travelodge.

Samaniego was with an unnamed 17-year-old girl at the hotel when he was found. He had turned 20 that day.

“The minor female told police that defendant had told her he shot someone earlier that night while he was out of the room,” Moskal wrote in court briefs.

Later, a security guard who said he was 10 feet away from the shooting identified Samaniego with “100 percent certainty,” according to the prosecutor. Police found a Glock 19 handgun with 9mm FC Luger rounds under a mattress in Samaniego’s room.

In a video-recorded interview with Metropolitan Police Department detectives, Samaniego initially said he was inside his room at the Travelodge all night “because his mother doesn’t like him to have sex in her house.”

The detectives told him that they had video of the shooting.

“Samaniego said there were a lot of people causing problems with the protest, and he was just trying to scare them into leaving,” the arrest report stated. “Samaniego said he didn’t even know police were there, that he had bad eye sight and he can’t see very far. Samaniego expressed regret that he had shot a police officer.”

The shooting marked Samaniego’s second brush with the law in two months. He was arrested in April on suspicion of DUI after police found him passed out with a cellphone in his hand behind the driver’s seat of a running vehicle in drive, Moskal said.

An officer observed “green leaf flakes” on Samaniego’s sweatshirt that appeared to be marijuana. Police also found alprazolam, a drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, in his right sock, the prosecutor said.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum revoked Samaniego’s bail in the DUI case. He is due back in court Friday in the shooting case.

Police said Mikalonis remained in critical condition Thursday morning at University Medical Center.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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