Two police among five dead after Las Vegas shooting

Attackers ambushed police as they ate lunch in pizza restaurant

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers hug near a Wal-Mart yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada after two officers were  shot and killed by two assailants at a pizza restaurant near the Wal-Mart. The two suspects then  went into the Wal-Mart where they killed a third person before killing themselves. Photograph:  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers hug near a Wal-Mart yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada after two officers were shot and killed by two assailants at a pizza restaurant near the Wal-Mart. The two suspects then went into the Wal-Mart where they killed a third person before killing themselves. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

 

In a shooting rampage that left five people dead, two assailants killed two Las Vegas police officers yesterday at a pizza restaurant and fatally shot a third person at a nearby Wal-Mart before dying in a suicide pact, the authorities said.

The attackers, one male and one female, ambushed the two police officers as they were eating lunch at a CiCi’s Pizza restaurant around 11.20am Las Vegas time, Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said at a news conference yesterday afternoon.

The sheriff identified the officers as Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo. He said one of them fired back at the attackers before he died, but it was unclear whether the officer struck either assailant.

The suspects took the officers’ weapons and ammunition before they fled across the street to a Wal-Mart store in the same plaza. There they fatally shot one other person inside the entrance, Mr Gillespie said.

Other officers responding to the shooting call confronted the man and the woman and exchanged gunfire with the suspects, and then they heard several shots.

The female suspect is believed to have shot the male suspect before taking her own life, Mr Gillespie said. Larry Hadfield, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said earlier yesterday that investigators believed the couple had a suicide pact.

Some bystanders reported that the couple had shouted, “This is a revolution” while firing on the officers at the pizza restaurant. But Mr Gillespie said that he could not confirm that.

The CiCi’s Pizza is about nine miles from the Las Vegas Strip. The restaurant and the Wal-Mart are in a shopping plaza in the Las Vegas Valley that was bustling with activity yesterday morning. Police officers and deputies who gathered outside the restaurant where Det Beck and Det Soldo were attacked stood in small clusters, many of them hugging one another. Some officers wept.

“We have lost two officers with young families and a family of law enforcement who cares very much about them, as well as the innocent citizen that lost their life,” Mr Gillespie said at the news conference. “What precipitated this incident we do not know. My officers were simply having lunch when the shooting started.”

Both of the slain officers were veterans of the Police Department. Det Beck (41), who had been with the department since 2001, had a wife and three children. Soldo (31), who joined the department in 2006, had a wife and a baby. “It’s a tragic day,” Mr Gillespie said. “It’s a very difficult day.’’

The victim shot inside the Wal-Mart has not been identified, he said. He did not identify the assailants.

Shere-e Burns (48), said she had gone to CiCi’s after church. She said she was sitting behind the police officers, who had just finished their meals and were chatting, when a man approached who appeared to be headed for the soda fountain across the aisle.

Ms Burns said the man had just passed the officers when he turned, pulled out a gun and shot one of them in the head. She said she ducked under her table and crawled around a wall dividing the dining room. She peeked up and saw the man reach around the officer and take his gun and ammunition.

“They didn’t have a chance,” she said in a telephone interview. “I thought I was in a bad movie. That’s how fast it went.” Ms Burns said she could not recall hearing a second shot or seeing a second assailant. “I went to the floor. I wasn’t looking for anyone else,” Ms Burns said.

After the attacker left, she said, she got up, saw one of the officers with blood running from his head and ran out of the restaurant.

Pauline Pacheco, a shopper in Wal-Mart, said in an interview with KLAS, a Las Vegas television station, that she saw the armed man enter the store and she grabbed her father so they could escape. “We saw when the man was walking, he was shouting, yelling bad words, and suddenly he had a gun,” Ms Pacheco said. “It was terrible, it was terrible. That man was crazy.”

Wal-Mart issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying, “We express our deepest condolences to everyone who has been affected by this senseless act of violence. Our store is currently closed. This is still an active investigation and we are working with local police.”

After the shooting, businesses closed as police sectioned off the scene. About a block and a half of Nellis Boulevard, one of the main roads in Las Vegas, was closed to traffic as cones and yellow tape sealed its entrances from north of Stewart Avenue and south at Charleston Boulevard.

Only police officers and witnesses remained at the scene last night. About a dozen police cars and a few ambulances sat in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart. The sheriff said that officers who had been patrolling the area alone had been instructed to partner with colleagues while the police investigated the case.

“We still have a community to police and a community to protect,” Mr Gillespie said. “We will be out there doing it with our heads held high but an emptiness in our hearts.”

New York Times