Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

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Gunfire rings out in hotel garage as fugitive found

A Metro Police SWAT officer fired two shots in the Texas Station parking garage Thursday night at a man wanted by California authorities in connection with a fatal shooting.

The officer said he saw Chad Justin Smith, 27, raise what appeared to be a gun as he was fleeing the parking garage in a car driven by Velvet Bennett, 29, Capt. Dennis Cobb said.

The shots hit the passenger side of the car, but no one was hit. Smith and Bennett then fled the parking garage, but they were later arrested.

Smith was held in the Clark County jail as a fugitive from California, and Bennett was held on battery of a police officer and giving false information charges, police said.

The incident began Thursday night when police received a tip from police in Chico, Calif., that Smith might be headed to Las Vegas, Cobb said.

"Members of the SWAT team, who were involved in searching for the suspect, located his vehicle on the fifth floor of the parking garage," Cobb said.

Officers went into the casino to look for Smith, but officers initially made contact with him when he went out onto the fifth floor of the garage about 10:45 p.m.

Smith and Bennett got in their car, with Smith in the passenger seat, and attempted to escape the garage, police said. As they were coming around a corner on the fifth floor toward the ramp to the fourth floor they were confronted by a SWAT officer, who was standing near the bottom of the ramp, Cobb said.

"The officer perceived that the suspect was raising a firearm and fired two shots," Cobb said.

The shots hit the passenger side of the car, but Bennett, who was driving, continued down the ramp and out of the structure. Smith got out of the car near the North Las Vegas airport and was arrested after a short foot chase, Cobb said.

The car and Bennett were later located in an uncovered parking area Texas Station about 11:30 p.m. No gun was found on Smith or in the car, but police say they lost sight of the car for about 45 minutes, and the gun could have been tossed out.

Smith is wanted in connection with a Tuesday night homicide in Chico. Chico police responded to an apartment and found a man dead from an apparent gunshot wound in the face.

Information from Chico police identified Smith as armed and dangerous, Cobb said.

Police were still investigating the officer-involved shooting this morning and have not located the weapon that the officer thought he saw.

The officer who fired his gun will not be identified for 48 hours per department policy.