Police accuse teen in manager’s slaying

Police have identified a 17-year-old as the assailant who shot and killed the manager of a local Ashley Furniture Homestore in November.

Las Vegas police allege that Thayer Burton is responsible for the Nov. 23 slaying of Robert Bills, manager of the furniture store on 3130 N. Rainbow Blvd., near Cheyenne Avenue. Police said Bills had left the store to make a bank transaction about 6 p.m. when someone in a ski mask and dark clothing approached him and shot him in the store’s parking lot.

Capt. Randy Montandon said Burton was identified as the shooter after he initially was a suspect in the shooting death of 15-year-old Palo Verde student Christopher Privett, who was gunned down last month while walking home from school.

Police said Burton was ruled out as a suspect in that killing, in which two other teens were charged with murder.

Montandon did not specify how Burton was linked to Bills’ death. Montandon said the slayings of Bills and Privett were unrelated.

Burton already was in the Clark County Detention Center on armed robbery charges. Montandon said he was booked Thursday on the additional charges of battery with a deadly weapon, murder with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Police said Burton has an extensive rap sheet for robbery. Although Burton walked away from the attack on Bills empty-handed, police said, authorities remain steadfast about Burton’s intent.

“The motive behind this case was robbery. It was for financial gain,” Montandon said.

Colleagues of Bills, who was in his early 50s, described him as nice man who loved his job.

Bills, originally from Chicago, was also described as talkative and well-liked. Colleagues said he treated workers at the store like extended family. He had been living in Las Vegas for nine years and had worked at the store for about a year.

The shooting occurred two hours before the store was going to close for the night. Although police said there are not any additional suspects in Bills’ slaying, the investigation remains open.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call police at 385-5555 or 828-3521.

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