Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 | 8:45 p.m.
Initially peeved over a seemingly minor annoyance, a retail store employee grabbed a gun from his vehicle and blasted his way back into his workplace as a plethora of panicked customers scattered through a south valley shopping center.
Mohamed Mahmoud, who was hit in an exchange of gunfire with a Metro Police officer, had apparently “snapped,” Clark County Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank said. He was trying to hurt a manager who’d told him to “stop complaining.”
The Blue Diamond Crossing retail center on Saturday afternoon was packed with back-to-school shoppers. “In this incident,” Hank said, “we’re extremely lucky that no citizens or officers were injured.”
Mahmoud, 37, “showed absolutely no regard for the safety of anyone in the area,” he added.
Saturday afternoon’s “isolated workplace violence,” as Hank described it, commenced with a customer’s innocent action — leaving a shopping cart by the entrance while she grabbed her car to load her purchased merchandise.
Assigned to the entrance of the Ross Dress for Less — 4000 Blue Diamond Road — in his position as a loss-prevention worker, Mahmoud grew angry at the customer.
Store policy dictates that carts stay indoors, Hank said, and his indignation was reciprocated by the supervisor, who chastised him over a radio.
This led to an exchange in which Mahmoud threatened her and another employee who’d intervened, Hank said. The enraged suspect threw his work vest on the floor and pointed at the duo, telling them, “I’ll kill you both.”
So, Mahmoud walked to the parking lot shortly after 4 p.m., grabbed a legally purchased 9 mm handgun and began to make his way into the store, apparently intending to make good on his promise, Hank said. He twice pulled the trigger before going through the doors, Hank said.
Customers began to scatter throughout the shopping center — some fled at the sight of the gun, others at the sound of the gunshots.
Inside, Mahmoud shot once at the ceiling, tracked down the manager and fired two rounds in her direction, missing, Hank said. As he retreated back toward the front of the store, he shot at the running victim five more times, again missing.
Mahmoud fired a total of 16 shots, Hank said.
At 4:17 p.m., three minutes after 911 callers began to report an “active shooter,” the first Metro officer arrived only to take gunfire from Mahmoud, Hank said.
Officer Bryon Bunitsky was met in a similar way two minutes later, Hank said. He was shot at twice as he exited his cruiser.
Taking cover behind a palm tree, Bunitsky fired five times toward Mahmoud, bringing him down with a gunshot wound to the hip from 53 yards away, Hank said.
A trio of off-duty officers placed Mahmoud in custody, Hank said.
The brief shootout was captured on Bunitsky’s body-worn camera. “(He) acted courageously and with impressive accuracy,” Hank said.
Shoppers exiting other stores did not know what was going on, and others stumbled upon it, such as a woman who was driving by.
Audio from her frenzied phone call was broadcast on Tuesday by Hank. “Get in your car, there’s a shooting,” the woman says crying.
“I’m literally driving … when I saw him pull out a gun and start shooting,” she tells an operator, describing the suspect as a tall man with his hair in a bun. “He was just literally charging.”
The police response was immediate, and shoppers sheltered in the stores, confused at exactly what was occurring. Investigators are probing whether Mahmoud may have targeted others in the shooting spree.
This was the fifth shooting involving Metro in seven days. “In each of these cases, our officers have been confronted by armed individuals willing to inflict harm on citizens and our officers,” Hank said. “We had a tough week at Metro.”
“Our officers’ actions are dictated by the suspect’s action,” Hank said.
Mahmoud, who remained at University Medical Center where he underwent surgery, was booked in absentia on various counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon (on citizens and police) and firing into an occupied structure.
Prior to Saturday, Mahmoud had never faced criminal charges, Hank said.