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April 23, 2017

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Man arrested in random Las Vegas stabbings that left 1 dead

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L.E. Baskow

Metro investigates a stabbing at an ARCO convenience store in the 500 block of North Lamb Boulevard where a male customer was fatally stabbed and likely related to two others nearby on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Updated Wednesday, April 19, 2017 | 9:20 p.m.

Triple Stabbings and Fatal

Metro investigates a stabbing at an ARCO convenience store in the 500 block of North Lamb Boulevard where a male customer was fatally stabbed and likely related to two others nearby on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. Launch slideshow »
Richi Briones

Richi Briones

A man armed with a large "Rambo-Style" knife and accused of killing one person and critically wounding another in a pair of random east valley attacks Wednesday morning has been arrested after an hours-long manhunt, according to Metro Police.

Richi Briones was taken into custody without incident about 7 p.m. at a bus stop near U.S. 95 and Boulder Highway, police announced.

Soon after the attacks, police identified Briones, 32, as the suspect. He was seen driving south from the area of Lamb Boulevard and Bonanza Road in a worn-out, tan-colored Toyota Sienna minivan with front damage. That vehicle was found near Flamingo Road and Maryland Parkway.

Briones, who during the attacks wore a gray hooded sweatshirt, a white shirt underneath, blue jeans and black sneakers, was considered armed and dangerous, police said.

Police said they didn’t believe the attacks were related to terrorism. Briones was heard rambling incoherently, mentioning something about a cartel and drugs, police said.

Court documents link him to a November stabbing and vehicle theft incidents in which, when officers caught up to him next to the stolen vehicle, they noticed that he had poured lighter fluid on himself.

In the arrest report, a detective wrote that Briones had told medics that he had planned to light himself on fire and walk into traffic. He was arrested and put into a Legal 2000 mental evaluation hold.

Wednesday “totally random” stabbings

Officers responded about 9:30 a.m. today to an attempted attack in the 4300 block of Stewart Avenue, where the intended victim was able to run away unharmed, police said. A witness gave police the name of a suspect and a vehicle description, police said.

About five minutes after the initial attempted attack, Briones tried to purchase a shotgun at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store at Lamb and Charleston boulevards, but his application was denied, McGrath said. A store representative called police after news reports of the attacks began to surface.

Click to enlarge photo

Richi Briones was seen Wednesday, April 19, 2017, driving south from the area of Lamb Boulevard and Bonanza Road in this worn-out, tan-colored Toyota Sienna minivan with front damage.

About 40 minutes later, a man behind a sushi restaurant in the 4400 block of East Charleston Boulevard was attacked by Briones and stabbed once, McGrath said. The victim was taken to University Medical Center in extremely critical condition, he said.

Then, shortly before 11 a.m., Briones walked into a convenience store at Lamb Boulevard and Bonanza Road and grabbed a customer at a cash register from behind, stabbing him multiple times, Metro homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said. The customer died at UMC, he said.

Hours after the stabbing, a frantic woman rushed the scene and tried to get through the yellow police caution tape. When an officer tried stopping her, she yelled out hysterically: “That’s my brother’s truck!” Police led her toward the store.

Briones, who is known to local and California law enforcement because of two domestic-violence-related arrests in the past couple of years, frequents the northeast part of the valley, McGrath said.

“If you know this person or see this van, call 911,” McGrath had said this afternoon. “It’s random attacks, so he’s extremely dangerous to the public.”

Officers valleywide were on high alert while Briones remained loose, McGrath said. They tried to locate Briones' alleged domestic violence victim from 2015 to get her to a safe place.

Officers also had visited at least a couple of addresses associated with Briones to try to find him, McGrath said. Nearby Edwards and Moore elementary schools were locked down as a precaution, according to the Clark County School District.

Briones didn't leave the city, but the Highway Patrol and other police in California were contacted, as well as federal agencies, McGrath said.

“We don’t know what he’s capable of at this point but he’s definitely capable of injuring or killing somebody else,” McGrath said this afternoon.

Anyone with information should contact 911. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or online at crimestoppersofnv.com.

A history of violence and erratic behavior

Metro officers were dispatched to an east valley stabbing on Nov. 6, according to documents. When they arrived, Briones’ former roommate told them that Briones had stabbed her neighbor.

Briones fled and another caller reported that a man who’d matched his description was acting erratically, jumping walls in the area and acting “paranoid,” a detective wrote on the report. That’s about the same time police said Briones allegedly stole an SUV nearby.

Officers spotted Briones outside the reported stolen vehicle the following afternoon near the intersection of Harris Avenue and Pecos Road, according to the report. An officer said that Briones smelled of lighter fluid.

When he was being questioned, Briones said he’d poured lighter fluid on himself and was planning to light himself on fire and run into traffic, police said. He was placed in a mandatory mental evaluation.

According to court records, Briones underwent a mental evaluation before a state court judge ruled in January that he was competent to face a felony auto theft charge.

The case was dismissed in February by a judge after a preliminary hearing of evidence, records show.

A prosecutor and public defender involved in the case weren't immediately identified, and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson declined to comment.

Court records on the November stabbing incident were not immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.