Las Vegas Sun

September 28, 2023

Officials identify man shot, killed after breaching Nevada nuclear site

Test Site Shooting

Nye County Sheriff's Office / AP

This photo provided by Nye County Sheriff’s Office shows law enforcement agents investigate a shooting at the former Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Authorities shot and killed a man who entered a secured federal site north of Las Vegas where the government used to test nuclear bombs. A spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration says the man failed to stop at the security gate on Monday at the Nevada National Security Site.

A man who was shot and killed Monday by law enforcement after he breached the main security gate at the Nevada National Security Site has been identified as an Iowa resident, according to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.

Nekiylo Dawayne Graves, 27, died at the scene, about 8 miles into the testing site — which is 70 miles north of Las Vegas — said Sheriff Sharon Wehrly in a briefing broadcast online Wednesday night.

The incident unfolded about 5:20 p.m. when Graves “had run the main gate,” Wehrly said.

Security at the site — formerly known as the Nevada Test Site — summoned Nye County Deputy John Kakavulias, who was assigned to the property, and a chase ensued.

Kakavulias caught up, and Graves stopped his vehicle less than 10 minutes later, Wehrly said.

Wehrly said Graves exited and began approaching Kakavulias and another officer, refusing to comply with orders to stop, so the officers opened fire, fatally wounding him, Wehrly said.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said Monday that the suspect had an unspecified cylindrical object in his hand when he was shot. Wehrly didn’t mention the object Wednesday.

The FBI is investigating Graves, while state authorities will be conducting an internal-affairs investigation into the shooting, Wehrly said.

A no-record policy inside the property meant Kakavulias wasn’t equipped with a body-worn camera, Wehrly said.

Nevada is currently involved in a legal battle with the U.S. Energy Department to block the shipment of a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium to the site from South Carolina.

Government scientists conduct tests simulating nuclear explosions at the 1,360-square-mile site in Nevada that is larger than the state of Rhode Island.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.