LAS VEGAS (AP) — Police knocked on apartment doors early Wednesday and sought area security camera footage, hoping to identify a gunman in a black car who stopped to confront a man arguing with a woman in a parking lot, then pulled out an assault-style rifle and killed him.
“The victim told him to mind his own business, with some expletives,” Las Vegas police Lt. Dan McGrath said of the verbal exchange that ended late Thursday with a single fatal shot to the man’s chest in front of the man’s horrified ex-girlfriend.
Neither the woman nor the couple’s 5-year-old son, who was in a car nearby, was injured, McGrath said.
The ex-boyfriend was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. His name wasn’t immediately made public by the Clark County coroner. He appeared to be in his 20s, McGrath said.
“We’ve seen this before, with people who are very quick to violence there’s any kind of a challenge,” McGrath said.
The shooter was described as a man in his 30s with a goatee, of average height and build, wearing dark clothing. McGrath described the weapon used as a “mini AR-15.”
The killing was the 156th homicide so far this year in and around Las Vegas, putting the city on pace to eclipse the record 167 homicides it logged in 1996. It has already surpassed the 136 slayings handled in all of 2015, and 128 in 2014.
Several cases this year have been shockingly violent.
— A shooting in February killed two San Francisco Bay-area women and left a man badly wounded in a car just off the Las Vegas Strip after a fistfight in a casino resort parking lot. Their accused assailant will face the death penalty at trial, scheduled in November 2017.
— The slaying in April of a store clerk during a takeover robbery at a liquor outlet store where authorities say the clerk told the robbers he didn’t have the combination to open the safe. Three men are jailed awaiting trial in that case, including two who face the death penalty.
— At least three killings are attributed to a homicide suspect who broke handcuffs and escaped in September from a North Las Vegas police station where he was being held for questioning in the killing of a man in one case. Witnesses said it followed an argument about a door not being held open for a woman at a McDonald’s restaurant.
That suspect, Alonso Perez, was re-arrested several days later in Las Vegas. He was indicted this month in a separate case — the fatal shooting in August of a motorcyclist who confronted Perez after seeing him in a friend’s backyard. Perez has been named by police as the prime suspect in another slaying in August.
McGrath told reporters the gunman in the Thursday case drove up in what witnesses said was a black or dark-colored two-door car, possibly a Dodge Charger or Challenger, while the couple argued loudly in a rear parking lot about custody of their son.
“He was just somebody that saw the people arguing,” the police lieutenant said. “He put himself in the middle of it. And then, whatever was said, he retrieved the firearm and shot the man that was not armed.”