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November 28, 2014

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Metro officer, wife and child dead in apparent double-murder, suicide

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Steve Marcus

Law enforcement officials confer during a shooting investigation in Boulder City, Jan. 21, 2013.

Updated Monday, Jan. 21, 2013 | 4:45 p.m.

Boulder City Shooting

Law enforcement officials investigate a shooting in Boulder City, Jan. 21, 2013. Launch slideshow »

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.

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  1. What is going on at Metro? What is Gillespie doing? I know he fired a good Sgt but keeps others protected. Considering the number of officers who have committed crimes in the last year Gillespie looks like he's driving with his hand off the wheel.

  2. Gillespie asks us to reserve judgment? It seems a fact that one of his Metro officers became a murderer; a murderer of his own family. Bless the wife and little boy, but pray tell, dear Sheriff, what judgement, other than total outrage and complete condemnation, is left for us to reserve?

  3. @...tbvegas....I can't even begin to consider whether or not that that's a stupid argument, because I am simply blinded by the stupidity of bringing it up in the midst of such a tragic loss of life.

    The anti-gun nuts were wrong to stand on the graves of children to further their agenda, and you are no better using this incident as a pulpit.

  4. @TomD1228.."No law can prevent someone from bringing a Gatling gun into a theater and mowing down 200 in a matter of seconds...but as far as I know we outlaw those guns"

    Actually the requirement of up to four men to operate the weapon would be the major impediment here. Although the first Gatling gun was capable of firing continuously, it required a person to crank it; therefore it was not a true automatic weapon. Gatling guns are legal if they are only operated by a hand crank.

    Pretending that a background check for every single person who wants to own a gun is the cure-all, well, it's just too simplistic to say that. We all know a background check would have allowed Lt. Hans Walters to purchase as many firearms as he wished, and done nothing to head off this tragedy.

    While many, you chief among them, exalt law enforcement to some higher state, this incident tells us that even the most highly trained officers working with Hans every day, were unable to detect his mental state. Yet, we tend to take their word as gospel about the intentions/mental state of those they have known for mere seconds.

    Failure to spot any warning signs, well, that is the best case scenario here. The worst case is that, in their continued devotion to protect their fellow cop, those around him simply ignored the warning signs.

    While many argued that those closest to Holmes, Lanza, Paige, etc, should have predicted their terrible actions how many will lay similar blame at the feet of the men and women supposedly trained to recognize the signs of criminal behavior from someone they worked with every day.

  5. Once again we must wonder what, IF ANY, psychological testing Metro recruiting does. AND, what sort of refresher "testing" or guidance is provided. While everyone faces job stress, family stress, life stress, most of us muddle through with or without help and guidance. Where is it that men get the idea that they have a right to kill their wives and children? Where? You can walk away. You can run away. You can say no more. But you cannot make life-ending decisions for anyone else. Granted, on the job, officers SEEM to make those decisions but they really don't. They must come to terms that THEY don't decide. Often, the Perps decide to suicide by cop or something similar. But that DOESN'T mean you get to carry that "authority" home with you. Life experience, observation, reading should enlighten individuals that MANY HAVE GONE THRU this sort of thing (whatever "caused" the violence) and eventually moved into a better situation without harming anyone.

  6. We do not know what this man was thinking or feeling. Obviously he had some mental health issues brought upon by --- who knows? We should not try to judge nor figure out why he did this and put blame on ANYTHING. It is sad, sad when a person feels so helpless that they resort to this kind of behavior.

    This whole sad incident has nothing to do with guns, gun ownership, the right to own a gun, blah blah blah. As some of you have mentioned, it was this man's mental state at issue. Most police departments DO have counselors available just like any other work place, but you cannot force a person to go. Maybe it was suggested to him to go talk to someone and he refused because, after all, he is a cop and it is not "macho" to go to counseling. So he suffered in silence until he just snapped.

  7. "Once again we must wonder what, IF ANY, psychological testing Metro recruiting does. "

    Irrelevant; this officer was the force for 20 years.

  8. @ Bob635.."When all people can see is just treading water and NO POSSIBLE BETTER FUTURE - well then why bother.

    AND HERE IS THE RESULT."

    Somehow I doubt this was the case here. Making nearly $200,000 in taxpayer dollars, I wouldn't consider this guy a victim of "the terrible economy" or the "greed of rich people."

  9. To my fellow bloggers,

    I have read each and every comment so far and while excluding the haters, I've noticed a common trend at suggesting psychological evaluations being routinely performed on police officers and in-counseling available for officers needing that type of help. The persons suggesting these possible remedies are obviously not in the business, otherwise they would realize any identified psychological treatment for a police officer is "Career Suicide", and any identified police officer receiving psychological treatment (needed or not) is permanently marked and will be sanctioned from performing his or her duties, and God forbid they get into a shooting incident, righteous or not, they will be crucified as soon as that information is made available. But, for those that are interested, the way police officers receive objective and impartial psychological treatment is always on their own, under assumed names, and without any employment intervention. It is just the way it is. Just an old 38 year veteran cop reflecting,

    Gordon Martines.....curre.org....p.s. by the way any cop that seeks psychological help within the police department, might as well be speaking directly to IAB and then afterwards sign his/her own eventual resignation/termination papers.

  10. <<The persons suggesting these possible remedies are obviously not in the business, otherwise they would realize any identified psychological treatment for a police officer is "Career Suicide", and any identified police officer receiving psychological treatment (needed or not) is permanently marked and will be sanctioned from performing his or her duties, and God forbid they get into a shooting incident, righteous or not>>

    Sorry, you're wrong. Maybe years ago it was "career suicide" for a cop to seek counseling, but that is no longer true. No, I am not or ever was "on the job" but 18 years with a cop I sort of knew what went on. Like any other profession, mental health counseling is part of their insurance plans and it no longer holds the stigma as you suggest. And when it is necessary, counseling is highly encouraged no matter what the reason for it.