Metro officer wounded in south valley shooting, suspect arrested

A multiagency manhunt ended around dusk Thursday in the Southern Highlands housing community, where Metropolitan Police arrested a man accused of shooting an officer that morning at a south valley long-term motel.

In what Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo called a “chance encounter,” the shooting happened as a pair of Metro officers were responding to an unrelated domestic disturbance call about 11:15 a.m. at the Emerald Suites, 9145 Las Vegas Blvd. South, near the intersection of Agate Avenue. As one officer walked to the room where the disturbance was, the other walked to the front desk to investigate the people involved, he said.

And for a moment, the officers were separated.

That’s when Lombardo said the officer on the way to the desk was unexpectedly confronted by the armed man, whom police did not name. Lombardo said there was a short chat — who are you, why are you here — when the man opened fire. The shooter hit the officer under the arm and under the bulletproof vest and then fled, police said. The officer is expected to recover.

As he went down, Lombardo said the officer — a 21-year veteran of the force — fired back, police said. As that was happening, his partner heard the shots and ran back. But the officers lost sight of the suspect.

“As luck would have it,” Metro Sgt. Jeff Clark said Thursday afternoon, the sheriff was finishing a holiday luncheon at South Point when he heard the call on the radio.

As Lombardo pulled up, “the suspect came right out in front of our vehicle,” the sheriff said. Lombardo chased the man until he jumped over a wall and then stayed on the scene to help the officer and coordinate a search.

“He set us all up,” Clark said of Lombardo.

As police locked down a wide perimeter that stretched to Gilespie Street and shut down Las Vegas Boulevard from Pebble Road to Serene Avenue, Lombardo went to the hospital to check on the officer, who has a wife and a son. Later, in front of the trauma center, Lombardo said the officer was recovering — a relief to the many officers lingering, chatting and waiting to hear about his condition.

About 6 p.m., Lombardo said the officer was awake and talking; Lombardo called him an “absolute hero.”

But the sheriff’s mind was also on the shooting suspect, who managed to get past a perimeter that included help from Nevada Highway Patrol officers, SWAT, K-9 detectives, Clark County Fire and the FBI.

“We need to figure out how he got from here to there,” Lombardo said at a briefing near where the shooting happened, adding that the suspect may have had help.

Throughout the investigation, the police’s description of the suspect changed. At first, he was described as a white man in his 20s, then a white man in his 50s. The final description was a light-skinned black man in his mid-30s in all black clothing.

The public called in with many leads, but the sheriff said an in-house tip led the suspect’s arrest, which Lombardo called a “nonevent.”

“Upon (police) arrival, he exited the residence without incident,” Lombardo said.

This was the third officer-involved shooting of the week and the 15th this year, Metro said. Last year, there were 16.

Kimberly De La Cruz, Erik Verduzco and Christian Bertolaccini contributed. Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @rachelacrosby. Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl.

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