LAS VEGAS (AP) - Two Las Vegas police officers unloaded 34 shots at an Arizona man who had fired nine times at them as he ran from the scene of a shooting that left another man critically wounded outside a downtown fast-food restaurant, police said Thursday.
The man who was killed, Efren Trujillo-Soriano, 22, returned to the original shooting scene to take cellphone video before he was killed by police late Monday not far from the Stratosphere tower, Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said.
Officers Bryan Loy and Lukas Ferris weren’t hit by gunfire in what McMahill said was the fifth police shooting involving Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers this year. The previous four weren’t fatal.
McMahill said investigators were surprised to learn that Trujillo-Soriano returned to watch police and paramedics aiding the man he’d allegedly wounded, Ronald Japhet, 45.
Japhet was shot five times and remains hospitalized in critical condition, McMahill said. Police haven’t been able to talk with him.
McMahill said building security video showed an earlier dispute between Japhet and Trujillo-Soriano in an inner courtyard of an office complex across Las Vegas Boulevard from the fast-food restaurant. It appeared that Japhet took an object from Trujillo-Soriano’s backpack before Trujillo-Soriano left the area and returned with a gun, the police official said.
After Japhet was shot on the gritty neon-lit street, a witness watching from the 25th-floor pool deck at the Stratosphere hotel-casino spent about 15 minutes describing the scene below for a 911 dispatcher. He said he saw Trujillo-Soriano walk into a nearby short-stay apartment complex and then return to the bus stop where Japhet was being cared-for.
“That’s him. Next to a police officer. By the bus stop. He’s taking pictures with his cellphone,” the witness says in segments of 911 audio that McMahill played for reporters. The witness’ name wasn’t made public.
“They’re telling him to go away,” the man says. “The guy with the backpack. He’s walking away.”
McMahill said police have Trujillo-Soriano’s cellphone, a Samsung, and technicians are attempting to unlock it to see if he recorded the scene.
McMahill said the police shooting happened almost the moment Loy and Ferris arrived. They saw Trujillo-Soriano about 30 yards away, sprinting up a sidewalk toward them, firing all nine remaining rounds in his 9mm handgun, McMahill said.
The shots missed Loy, who fired 18 times, and Ferris, who fired 16 shots. Trujillo-Soriano was struck four times. No other injuries were reported. McMahill said Ferris didn’t activate his body-worn video recorder until after the shooting. Loy wasn’t outfitted with a body camera.
Loy, 33, is a field training officer with more than eight years on the job. Ferris, 25, is a rookie who was on his third shift as a full-fledged patrol officer. Both are on paid leave pending departmental and district attorney reviews of the shooting.
McMahill said Trujillo-Soriano was an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2013 and had a history of drunk driving cases in Virginia and Arizona since his discharge in 2014. The police official said a military screening found Trujillo-Soriano didn’t have post-traumatic stress. Police found he’d been issued a summons recently in Las Vegas for allegedly consuming alcohol near a store where he bought it. They weren’t sure where he was living.
Security video from the otherwise deserted office complex showed Japhet and Trujillo-Soriano engaged in a physical scuffle, and a third man in a blue shirt standing nearby.
Police are looking the man in the blue shirt, McMahill said.
Las Vegas police had two police shootings at this time last year, McMahill noted. The department ended the year with 16, including 11 fatal.
Las Vegas police have drawn criticism for the number of shootings in recent years, and have been implementing recommendations following a federal Community Oriented Policing Services review of policies and practices. Officials say the number of Las Vegas officer shootings dropped after a record 25 shootings in 2010 to 24 in 2012 and 2013 combined.
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