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Trooper struck during car chase; suspect dead after shooting

Updated July 27, 2021 - 10:16 pm

A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper was struck on Interstate 15 near the Strip by a suspected carjacker Tuesday who died after a law enforcement shooting at the scene, officials said.

The suspected carjacker was the focus of a law enforcement pursuit before the trooper was struck on the southbound lanes of I-15 near Sahara Avenue, Highway Patrol spokesman Travis Smaka said. The trooper was in critical condition at University Medical Center as of Tuesday evening.

After impact, a law enforcement shooting unfolded on the interstate, Smaka said. The suspected carjacker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Highway Patrol spokeswoman Ashlee Wellman said the shooting “was a contributing factor” in the suspect’s death, but the agency provided no further information on the shooting and declined to specify who opened fire.

Rick McCann, executive director of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, confirmed that Highway Patrol troopers opened fire on the interstate. It remained unclear if officers from any assisting agencies opened fire.

Much of I-15 near the Strip was shut down Tuesday as authorities investigated. All lanes of the major thoroughfare had reopened as of 10 p.m.

Trooper struck

The trooper was out of his patrol vehicle and attempting to deploy stop sticks when he was hit during the vehicle pursuit, Smaka said.

“A Metro helicopter landed on the freeway and transported (the trooper) to the hospital,” said a law enforcement source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Smaka did not identify the trooper who was hit but described him as a longtime veteran of Highway Patrol. The trooper’s family was at the hospital, Smaka said Tuesday afternoon.

Details on what prompted the initial law enforcement pursuit were not available as of Tuesday evening.

The Clark County coroner’s office will identify and determine the cause and manner of death of the suspect who died at the scene.

‘We’re like a family’

Outside of the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, a few dozen law enforcement officers had gathered, waiting on updates about the trooper’s condition. A few hugged each other.

“It’s always very, very hard,” Smaka said of the situation. He said he and the trooper who was hit have worked together for many years.

“We’re like a family,” Smaka said outside the hospital, “and when one of us is hurt … we all feel it.”

A swath of southbound I-15 was shut down for more than nine hours Tuesday but had reopened as of 10 p.m. A stretch of northbound I-15 also was shut down Tuesday, but that section had reopened by about 5 p.m.

Las Vegas and North Las Vegas police helped shut down the interstate. The Metropolitan Police Department will investigate the law enforcement shooting, Smaka said.

Further details were not released.

Contact Alexis Ford at aford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow on Twitter. Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report.

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