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‘Proud of them’: Police officers honored for helping UNLV shooting victim

Updated January 25, 2024 - 4:47 pm

Upon encountering a UNLV shooting victim last month, a pair of Las Vegas police officers put him in the trunk of a cruiser.

Metropolitan Police Department officer Jacob Noriega climbed in with the critically injured faculty member and applied pressure to his wounds, while officer Ty Vesperas drove the vehicle to an ambulance a few blocks away, Karen Marben said during a ceremony at Resorts World on Thursday.

Marben is the executive director of the LVMPD Foundation, the department’s fundraising arm, which recognized the officers for their actions.

The officers’ efforts on Dec. 6 likely saved the victim’s life, Metro Deputy Chief Reggie Rader told reporters, noting that “we know seconds matter when you’re losing a lot of blood.”

The foundation provided its “Good Ticket” award and bouquets of flowers to the officers as their families looked on with smiles.

A Resorts World executive told them they were entitled to two-night stays at the property, show tickets and vouchers for food and drinks.

A reserved Vesperas spoke briefly, showing appreciation for the department’s extensive training.

“I want to say thank you to everyone else here: our family for supporting us in such a dangerous job that we continue to do every day,” he added.

The officers were part of a large response to shots fired at UNLV’s Beam Hall.

Police have said Anthony Polito, 67, shot four people, killing three UNLV professors before he was gunned down outside the building by UNLV police.

Those who lost their lives in the shooting were Patricia Navarro Velez, 39; Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang, 64; Naoko Takemaru, 69. The identity of the injured faculty member has not been released.

Officers Vesperas and Noriega had been trained at the Joint Emergency Training Institute, where 24 agencies conduct reality-based training, such as how to “stop the bleed.”

The foundation helped raise funds to build the center, and subsidizes some of Metro’s lifesaving equipment, Marben noted.

Rader said that all of the department’s officers are put through mandatory quarterly training. Once a year, he added, they perform extensive training on a dummy with simulated injuries to include blood spraying out of it — which is “very similar to combat medicine.”

While officers prepare for mass casualty events, they put those lessons to use on a daily basis when responding to crashes and shootings before medics arrive, Rader said.

Rader said he offered the officers the rest of the day off Thursday, but that they declined.

“I just told them how proud we are of them,” he said. “A lot of people have jobs they do; this is truly a calling. This is a profession for first responders.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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