Published Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 | 12:29 p.m.
Updated Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 | 4:45 p.m.
Investigation under way
A Metro Police officer apparently shot himself after killing his wife and child and setting their Boulder City home on fire, authorities said Monday afternoon.
Henderson Police spokesman Keith Paul said the tragedy unfurled this morning at about 8:20 a.m. when a man called 911, confessed that he had shot his wife and child and said he planned to shoot himself, too. The caller also warned the emergency dispatchers he would shoot any police officer sent to try to stop him.
Paul said Boulder City Police officers arrived within moments of the 911 call to a burning house in the 1300 block of Esther Drive. There, a man armed with a handgun stepped outside the front door of the house. He ignored officers' commands to put down the gun and re-entered the burning home. Shortly afterwards, Paul said, police believe he shot himself.
SWAT units from the Henderson and North Las Vegas police departments also responded and went door to door to neighboring homes, asking residents to evacuate the scene.
Firefighters from Boulder City and Henderson extinguished the fire, and the three bodies — including one of a "little boy" — have been recovered, Paul said. He said the 52-year-old man and his 46-year-old wife were the primary homeowners, but he would not offer details about what caused the three deaths. The Clark County Coroner will release those details after autopsies are completed.
The Clark County Assessor's website showed the home is owned by Hans P. Walters, who is a Metro lieutenant. Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who heads Metro, was on the scene Monday morning along with other Metro officers.
Monday afternoon, Gillespie briefly spoke to the media about the morning's events. He said the 911 call came from the home of a Metro lieutenant who had been on the force for more than 20 years. Gillespie said he would not release the IDs of the dead out of respect for the family. He did not take questions, instead pointing reporters to Henderson Police.
Gillespie said a memorandum of understanding between Henderson Police and Boulder City Police outlines certain situations, including those similar to today's, where Henderson Police would assume the lead in investigations in Boulder City. Gillespie pledged Metro's assistance in the investigation, should Henderson Police request such help.
“Anyone who has been involved in law enforcement for any amount of time is usually prepared for any scenario,” Gillespie said. “No one, however, can prepare for something like this.”
The sheriff asked members of the public to reserve judgment regarding today's slayings until the investigation was completed. He also offered condolences to the family and loved ones touched by the tragedy.
“For the untold grief that will soon follow for family members, friends and co-workers close to this family, I can only say that our hearts go out to them in this very difficult time,” he said. “We will stand by your side and move through this unspeakable grief and support you whatever way we can.”
News of the three deaths and fire, along with the accompanying evacuations, shook the neighborhood.
“You know, it’s quiet here,” said Ted Kobacevich, who lives a block away from the scene of the incident and joined about 20 others outside a police blockade near the house. "We live here for a reason, and the reason is to avoid things like this.”
The neighborhood is about two blocks south of King Elementary School, which was closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and four blocks east of the Boulder City Hospital.
Sun reporter Jackie Valley contributed to this story.