Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 | 10 p.m.
Moments before an officer fatally shot Zachary Andrews last week in front of a Laughlin convenience store, the alleged robber said he’d rather die than be arrested, Metro Police officials said today.
Andrews, 28, had just robbed a shop employee at gunpoint in the 3600 block of Needles Highway when two Metro officers showed up and ordered him to drop his weapon, Undersheriff Jim Dixon told reporters at a press conference addressing the Jan. 31 shooting.
Dixon said Andrews initially followed orders and moved to the front of a patrol car as requested, but as Officer Samuel Solorio walked up to pat him down, the suspect pulled a .38 caliber handgun from his jacket pocket and placed the barrel against his own head.
He reportedly began moving toward Solorio, telling him, “I’m not going back. You’re going to have to kill me.”
Solorio began walking backward, ordering Andrews to drop his weapon while fellow Officer Christopher Crawford diverted traffic away from the area. Solorio eventually backed up into a wall and shot Andrews dead.
Metro Police believe Andrews robbed the same shop twice before.
Solorio, 37, has been employed with Metro since 1998 and is assigned to the department’s Resident Section in Laughlin. He has been placed on routine paid administrative leave while police review the shooting.
This was the third time Solorio has shot at a suspect while working for Metro, according to Sun archives. In September 2001, the officer shot Roy Philson after he robbed a fast food restaurant in the 4300 block of Las Vegas Boulevard North. About a year before, Solorio and Officer Michael Maloof shot 18-year-old Roy Palmer several times after spotting him at an apartment complex with a gun.
Both of those suspects survived, and Solorio was cleared of any wrongdoing in the shootings.
The department plans to review the Jan. 31 case internally before turning over its findings to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
Dixon said the number of officer-involved shootings has declined in recent years, noting that in 2013, the department logged 13 such incidents. The department had 11 cases in 2012. By contrast, the department had a record-setting 25 shootings in 2010.