Fire investigators returned Thursday to a West Las Vegas home where both arson and a deadly exchange of gunfire took place Wednesday.
Tim Szymanski, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Fire Department, said investigators conducted a thorough search for human remains and found none. They also removed all the furniture to make sure no combustible material remained behind to fuel a second blaze at what remains of 1230 Comstock Drive, near Washington Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Wednesday’s fire there spread unchecked while suspect Bryan Hanasz, 36, used a shotgun to fire on firefighters and police officers as he stood outside the burning residence, a Las Vegas police report said. The single-family home of more than 2,400 square feet is owned by Christine Monroe, Hanasz’s mother. Monroe could not be reached for comment.
The Clark County coroner’s office on Thursday said Hanasz died from multiple gunshot wounds. The wounds were likely sustained when police returned his fire. His death was ruled a homicide, which the coroner’s office defined as being caused by the actions of another person.
A coroner’s inquest jury will determine whether the shooting was justified, excusable or criminal. The inquest has not yet been scheduled.
Neighbors who knew Hanasz well said he didn’t live at the home.
Szymanski said the fire began in a bedroom and quickly raced through an air conditioning duct. It spread throughout the attic. Szymanski said Hanasz, who was killed at the scene, has not been identified as the arsonist.
“Officially, who started the fire is undetermined,” Szymanski said.
Firefighters responded to the blaze on Comstock Drive at 12:26 p.m. Wednesday. They were fired on almost immediately. Two fire trucks carrying four firefighters each were struck by shotgun pellets. Firefighters alerted police. As the trucks pulled away from the scene, firefighters reported seeing a man crouched near the side of the home with a weapon.
Szymanski said police arrived within seconds. He described the Las Vegas police response as fast and efficient. “They made sure our people were protected,” he said.
An unidentified police sergeant received minor wounds to his arm and back during the shooting. He was treated at University Medical Center and released Wednesday.
Hanasz shot four police patrol vehicles. Four officers returned fire at Hanasz. Police wouldn’t comment on whether they believe Hanasz was trying to commit suicide by cop.
Hanasz’s stepfather, Jerome Monroe, 65 said his stepson was a kind man who struggled to get his life back on track after being arrested. State and court records show Hanasz served time in prison for a robbery charge he pleaded guilty to in 1993. He also was charged with kidnapping involving victims older than 65. Those charges were dropped.
Police said Hanasz had an extensive criminal history including narcotics violations, driving violations, obstructing a police officer and battery on a police officer.
Monroe last spoke to his stepson about a month ago after his girlfriend broke up with him.
“He wasn’t upset with the world,” he said. “He was just saying, ‘Dad, I lost my job, I can’t find a job.’ He was worrying about the place he’s staying and coming up with the rent and stuff.”
Mike Childs, 26, said Wednesday he has lived in the Bonanza Village neighborhood where the shooting occurred his entire life. He didn’t remember many days like Wednesday.
Childs said he was in his kitchen cooking eggs when he saw two fire trucks zip into the neighborhood. About a minute later, he heard between three and five shots, he said.
Childs said his neighborhood resembled a “war zone.” Marked and unmarked police cars, SWAT and fire trucks lined the streets.
“I’m scared of all this,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I’m stepping back onto the porch.”
Review-Journal reporter Lawrence Mower contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at email@example.com or 702-383-4638.