A social media mix-up about a North Las Vegas Police Department traffic meeting Wednesday night led to dozens of residents wanting answers about a recent string of shootings in the city.
North Las Vegas residents gathered at the Alexander Library, 1755 W. Alexander Road, for a meeting that was intended for traffic police to speak about car accidents and road problems. Police spokesman Eric Leavitt said a post in a Facebook group told people to attend and voice concerns about several shootings in the past month that have killed or injured eight people younger than 20.
Capt. Clint Ryan, of the department’s Northwest Area Command, spoke before the traffic-related portion of the meeting, apologizing for the miscommunication and addressing the shootings.
“I want to make this perfectly clear to everyone: None of these incidents are related, regardless of what you’ve heard, seen or your neighbors said,” Ryan said.
Between Oct. 30 and Wednesday, five people have been killed and three have been injured in six shootings in North Las Vegas. The victims range from 3 to 19 years old, according to records maintained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
One shooting was gang-related, one was a domestic-related shooting, one was accidental and three appeared to be targeted attacks, police have said.
Emotions ran high in the room during Wednesday’s meeting. One woman stood up and asked if a meeting about the shootings would be scheduled.
“Give us a date,” she said, speaking over other residents and officers. “Us people of North Las Vegas pay for your salary. And I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to be this forward, but we want a date if you can bring that back to the mayor.”
Portland Preston, a crime prevention specialist, told the crowd the department did not mean to mislead anyone about the purpose of the meeting, and that she was also frustrated with the shootings.
“I too am a resident of North Las Vegas,” Preston said. “I am also an employee of the city of North Las Vegas, and I promise you they are doing everything, everything possible to get this resolved.”
Leavitt said the department was not aware of the Facebook post misstating the meeting’s purpose until Wednesday afternoon.
After an hourlong presentation by police on traffic issues, residents were able to ask questions, which turned to people asking about the recent shootings.
Residents started leaving the meeting to speak with Ryan and Leavitt outside the room. Erik Huey, a retired substitute teacher from North Las Vegas, told Ryan he wanted answers.
“We’re taking back our city, we’re taking back our community, and election time is coming up,” he told the police captain.
“A lot of these incidents are happening too close to home,” he said. “If it’s a gang issue, then the city needs to be proactive.”
Leavitt said the shooting that killed Angelina was the only one in the past month police believe was gang-related.
“All these shootings have been unrelated to each other,” Leavitt said. “And some people think that’s not good news. I think it is. These are not random acts of violence throughout this city, to say the least. That’s the only good thing going at this point.”
Police have either arrested or identified suspects in every shooting, he said. Leavitt said the department’s new chief, Pamela Ojeda, has made a plan to address the recent violence after being appointed in mid-November. The department plans to release more details in about a week.
“I know the recent shootings is a hot topic and people want answers, but I hope they see what were doing,” Leavitt said. “I hope people see that we’re out there.”