One of several North Las Vegas police officers responding to gunfire in an apartment complex early Wednesday shot a teenager he thought was reaching for a weapon, police said.
Authorities are investigating whether the 18-year-old man wounded in the 12:55 a.m. shooting at the Judith Villas apartment complex was armed.
Police found no weapon on him, but recovered a handgun about 15 feet away from the spot where the teen fell bleeding from a wound to the hip.
"Right in the immediate area where he goes down there is a gun found, but we’re not saying it’s his. We don’t know yet," said officer Justin Roberts, a spokesman for the North Las Vegas Police Department.
Roberts said police were first called to the complex, 711 Nelson Ave., near Carey Avenue and Interstate 15, at 12:14 a.m. on a report of gunfire.
Police searched the area for 10 to 15 minutes, but found nothing suspicious.
"It was quiet, so they left," Roberts said.
At 12:55 a.m., several people called 911 reporting more gunfire in the complex.
About a half-dozen officers responded and followed the sound of the gunfire.
When police neared the area the gunfire was coming from, several young men fled in all directions.
"There are people running to the police, from the police, away from the gunshots," Roberts said. "(Officers) don’t know who’s friend or foe."
Young men who ran toward a group of two to three officers were ordered to the ground, where officers planned to handcuff them while getting the situation under control, Roberts said.
As the officers were securing the men on the ground, "two people come running up behind them from around the corner," Roberts said.
The officers yelled at the men to stop. One fled.
Roberts said the other man "makes a furtive movement that led the officer to believe his life was in jeopardy."
The officer fired one round, striking the 18-year-old.
The teen, whose name was not released, was rushed to University Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. Police said he was expected to survive.
Besides the handgun found next to the teen, police found a rifle nearby.
Police arrested Michael Harris, 19, in connection with the shooting officers heard upon arrival. Harris was booked into the North Las Vegas Detention Center on suspicion of shooting into an occupied dwelling.
Roberts said investigators think two groups of gang members had been shooting at each other.
Police say they are working with residents to improve the troubled Judith Villas, where police have been summoned 50 times since June 1.
Half of those calls were because of domestic disturbances. Six stemmed from reports of gunfire. Three involved people being spotted with guns, and seven were drug-related.
The name of the officer involved in the shooting is being withheld for 48 hours, a standard procedure in all police shootings. He is on paid administrative leave during the investigation into the incident.
The incident was the first officer-involved shooting for a North Las Vegas officer this year.