Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2018

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Video: In Hollywood-style chase and shootout, bystanders ‘very lucky’ they weren’t hit

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METRO POLICE

A screen grab from a police video shows a scene from an officer’s pursuit of two suspects who fired repeatedly at police on July 11, 2018.

A mid-morning police chase and shootout through Las Vegas streets occupied by commuters and pedestrians played out like a Hollywood flick, with an officer’s body-worn recording lens providing a point of view of the very real scenes.

By the time Wednesday’s rampage concluded in front of a central valley elementary school and the camera was shut down, two men would have fatal wounds, and a pair of suspects and a Metro Police officer would have exchanged dozens of rounds from moving vehicles.

The first scene develops off-camera — a shooting reported at 7:34 a.m. in a self-car wash in the 1400 block of Eastern Avenue. A man is pumped with multiple bullets and later dies at University Medical Center, according to police. A description of an SUV occupied by the purported gunmen, Fidel Miranda, 23, and Rene Nunez, 30, an early 2000s model Ford Expedition, is broadcast over the radio.

Miranda is dead, while Nunez, who also was shot, is expected to survive. Both were later determined to be convicted felons with lengthy rap sheets, police said.

Two hours later, Officer William Umana spots the black vehicle near Constantine Avenue and Cooper Circle, Clark County Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly said. In an attempted stop, that “vehicle immediately sped away,” he said.

The rest is picked up by Umana’s body-worn camera, which footage was first broadcast publicly by Kelly on Monday afternoon. It lasts about four minutes.

With his left hand on his cruiser’s steering wheel and his other gripping his radio, Umana begins narrating his movements to an operator. “In pursuit of a suspect vehicle.”

It's not long before Miranda and Nunez open fire for the first of five sequences. "Shots fired! Shots fired!" Umana tells an operator, providing his whereabouts. The vehicle is "occupied two times" by two Hispanic men, Umana says in cop talk. The driver is bald, has a black shirt and his skin inked; the passenger has a white shirt, he advises.

The chase, which extended from the areas of Washington Avenue and Charleston Boulevard to Mojave Road and Eastern Avenue, is dramatic.

The 2002 Ford Expedition, later determined to had been stolen, speeds through quiet neighborhoods and busy commercial parts from the central to east valley. The SUV at times leads police onto opposite traffic. Volleys of gunfire directed at police in pursuit can be heard.

In a neighborhood approaching 28th Street and Ogden Avenue, Umana catches up and pulls out his gun. He first aims out the driver's side door, but then directs it in front of him, firing a volley of five bullets through the front windshield. Six more bullets fly through the spider-webbed glass; then seven through the side window.

The SUV stops suddenly in front of Howard Hollingsworth Elementary School. Nunez, who is behind the wheel, runs out, and Miranda moves to the driver's seat. And when he launches the Expedition in reverse, Umana, now out of his cruiser, fires 13 more bullets. A loud shotgun blast from Officer Paul Solomon, who had arrived at the scene, can be heard immediately after.

Miranda died at the scene while Nunez was arrested at the school's courtyard, Assistant Sheriff Kelly said. He'd tried entering the campus but encountered a locked door.

Kelly explained Metro's policy when dealing with police pursuits and officers firing from a vehicle. Both are permissible when there's immediate danger to human life, which apparently was the case Wednesday. Officers are trained to quell the suspects, not disable vehicles, he said.

Police don't specifically train for chase-involved shootouts but are prepared for when they "may come up in one in 1,000 stops that the officer may come across," Kelly said. "We hardly expect those types of situations to come up."

Speaking about the violent nature of the pursuit and its occurrence in broad daylight, Kelly said, "We have citizens out on the roadways. We have citizens who are walking. We're just very lucky and fortunate that those suspects didn't hit an innocent bystander. Very, very lucky."

As for Nunez, he was booked in absentia at the Clark County Detention Center. His rap sheet is set to grow exponentially with additions of murder and attempted-murder counts.

Metro is asking for anyone who might have witnessed or recorded any of the incident to call its investigators at 702-828-7309.