Teacher mourned as police seek suspects

Consuelo Albarran never met Eldorado High School science teacher Timothy VanDerbosch.

But she was so shocked by the brutal attack on him in her neighborhood that Tuesday night, for the second time in less than a week, she paid her respects to him at a makeshift memorial marking the site where he was robbed, beaten and then struck by a passing motorist.

"He taught our children," Albarran said. "A teacher is like family."

During the predawn hours of Oct. 20, Las Vegas police said, VanDerbosch, 50, was attacked by assailants who have not been identified. Police believe he then was hit by a passing motorist while lying unconscious in the street, although earlier reports said he was struck while fleeing the suspects.

The motorist cooperated with police and will not be charged.

VanDerbosch later died at University Medical Center.

Police said VanDerbosch was one of 11 victims beaten and robbed that morning by the same group of suspects in the east and northeast valley. Three of the victims were women.

Police have received more than 100 tips in the case, but none has led to an arrest. The four to six suspects are described as Hispanic men and one Hispanic woman. They range in age from 18 to 30, police said.

In search of fresh leads, two homicide officials and four detectives on Tuesday night canvassed the area where VanDerbosch was beaten, near Washington Avenue and Betty Lane. They also interviewed people on the campus of nearby Eldorado High School.

Police passed out fliers with VanDerbosch’s picture. Phone numbers were included so people could call in tips. Detectives also knocked on doors and spoke with residents walking the streets.

Homicide Lt. Lew Roberts said he is hoping investigators get lucky.

"The target audience is kids," Roberts said. "If people are talking, the kids will know."

Roberts said police did identify a person of interest, a man who found VanDerbosch’s wallet and used his ATM card. That man has been ruled out as a suspect in the attack on the teacher, but Roberts said he most likely will face several felony counts of unlawful use of a credit card.

The man found VanDerbosch’s wallet about a block from where the teacher was found.

Roberts said the robbery spree related to VanDerbosch’s death and multiple injuries was "heinous." He said the teacher deserved better.

"It’s horrible," Roberts said. "Here’s a guy going to school to do the most noble thing, educate kids. And he can’t even do that without being assaulted and murdered by these cowards."

Roberts said the assailants, once arrested, will face recommended charges of murder in VanDerbosch’s death.

According to the Clark County coroner’s office, VanDerbosch died from blunt force trauma in a "crush injury" to his chest.

VanDerbosch, described as a dedicated teacher by colleagues and students, was headed to work at 5:30 a.m. Oct. 20. He lived in an apartment a mile from campus and routinely walked to work.

Police said the suspects committed the robberies between midnight and 6 a.m. The perpetrators are thought to have taken about $100, credit cards and cell phones.

Police said the suspects were armed with guns or knives. Roberts said the victims had trouble identifying the suspects because the events happened before daylight, the weather was rainy, and the suspects ambushed them.

"It was so dark. It was fast. They basically swarmed people," Roberts said.

One victim was stabbed in the leg. Another was pistol-whipped. Roberts said one victim surrendered a wallet to the suspects but still was beaten.

Police have not ruled out the possibility that the robberies and assaults could be gang-related, thrill crimes or the acts of a group of teenagers. Roberts said police will likely continue to canvass the five other crime scenes where victims were beaten and robbed.

Police are searching for a white vehicle, possibly a Nissan four-door sedan, that was described as the getaway car.

The crime spree left many people who frequent areas near Eldorado shaken.

"It’s terrible," said Cara McGee, whose children attend school near the intersection where VanDerbosch was beaten. "Individuals should be able to walk up and down the street without being killed."

Auliya Reavis said last week’s crime spree frightened her because she works a graveyard shift.

Reavis, who lives in a neighborhood near Eldorado, said she is convinced the suspects are teenagers or young adults. She blames lack of parenting.

"Parents aren’t paying attention to their kids anymore," she said. "I know everything my kids do."

Review-Journal writer Mike Blasky contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@review journal.com or 702-383-4638.

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