Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Police: Man accused of stealing truck, killing officer had no recollection of incident

Surveillance video and eyewitnesses have helped police piece together the series of events Sunday that started with a carjacking at the Flamingo casino valet and ended with a multivehicle accident that left a California Highway Patrol officer dead and another man seriously injured.

James Robert Montgomery, a 29-year-old from Tustin, Calif., has been charged with murder, robbery, battery and grand larceny of an automobile after he allegedly stole a 2009 Ford F-150 from the Flamingo valet and then fled at a high rate of speed while two men were in the truck bed.

One of the men, 33-year-old California Highway Patrol officer Jesus Manual Magdaleno Jr., was ejected from the truck and suffered fatal injuries after the truck was involved in an accident at Flamingo Road and Valley View Boulevard, about a mile from where the incident began, according to a Metro Police arrest report.

A second man, 31-year-old Felix Brandon Cruz, was also ejected from the vehicle and suffered life-threatening injuries, including blunt force head trauma, police said.

Magdaleno and Cruz were checking out from the Flamingo shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday and had their vehicle parked in the valet with the driver’s door open and the engine running, according to police.

Surveillance video shows Montgomery initially approaching another parked car at the Flamingo valet, opening the door and then exchanging words with the occupants, police said. Montgomery then walked towards Magdaleno’s truck and got in the driver’s seat while Cruz was still in the truck bed loading their belongings.

Witnesses said it was unclear initially whether a valet employee was moving the truck, but when the vehicle didn’t stop, Cruz began calling for help and Magdaleno gave chase on foot.

Magdaleno jumped in the bed while the truck stopped for traffic, identifying himself as a police officer and demanding the driver stop, police said.

A witness on the 17th floor of Bally’s told police she saw the white truck driving westbound on Flamingo Road at a high rate of speed, striking several construction cones, while Magdaleno and Cruz yelled for help, according to an arrest report.

Montgomery continued westbound on Flamingo Road, ignoring red traffic lights and not giving either of the men in the truck bed a chance to escape.

Montgomery was driving through a red light at Valley View Boulevard when he was struck by a sports utility vehicle making a turn on a green arrow, police said.

Montgomery then lost control of the vehicle and collided with a traffic light pole, ejecting both Cruz and Magdaleno.

Responders pronounced Magdaleno dead at the scene while Cruz was transported to University Medical Center.

Montgomery was also transported to University Medical Center, where he told police he had no recollection of the incident except that he was in a car crash, according to the arrest report. He also told police that he remembered walking around the Flamingo casino, but he didn’t recall why he was there.

Montgomery was then arrested at UMC and booked in absentia on the felony charges, police said.

The investigation by Metro detectives remains ongoing. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Metro's homicide section at 702-828-3521. To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or visit www.crimestoppersofnv.com.

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