Las Vegas Sun

December 5, 2021

Currently: 75° — Complete forecast

Fallen trooper’s cruiser becomes a memorial to the ‘consummate professional’

Messages and Flowers Left in Honor of Micah May

Steve Marcus

Clark County School District Police Officer Chris Knight leaves a message on a patrol vehicle that was issued to Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Micah May at the NHP Southern Command Friday, July 30, 2021. May, 46, died Thursday after he was struck by a carjacking suspect during a pursuit on Interstate 15 on July 27.

Messages and Flowers Left in Honor of Micah May

A message is shown on a patrol vehicle that was issued to Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Micah May at the NHP Southern Command Friday, July 30, 2021. May, 46, died Thursday after he was struck by a carjacking suspect during a pursuit on Interstate 15 on July 27. STEVE MARCUS Launch slideshow »

When Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Micah May was fighting for his life in the hospital earlier this week, colleagues began scribbling messages on his cruiser dotted with his badge No. 203.

They struck a hopeful tone, almost a desperate plea, for the veteran to make it out alive, that perhaps one day he would be able to get back in the navy blue patrol car to survey Southern Nevada roads.

“Fight like hell, brother,” read one message. “Praying for you, stay strong,” another read.

A day after May, 46, succumbed to his injuries at University Medical Center, the car became an impromptu memorial for the community outside the patrol’s Las Vegas headquarters.

And May’s community stepped up, arriving to pay their respects for an officer described by Trooper Travis Smaka as a “humble, consummate professional dedicated (to) public service.” 

One by one, they lay flowers on the windshield, added thank-you messages, or simply stood there to reflect. A trooper cadet class placed a bouquet and posed for a photo.

Uniformed officers from partner agencies also gathered during a half-hour period this afternoon.

One of them was Clark County School District Police Officer Chris Knight.

“I know the job the troopers do is not an easy one, obviously law enforcement in general,” he said. “I just want to pay my respects to the Highway Patrol, Trooper May and his family. 

“We don’t always work with each other, but we’re always there for each other,” Knight said. “It’s definitely a family in that sense.”

May was critically injured midday Tuesday on Interstate 15 in the heart of Las Vegas as he and his colleagues were trying to stop a carjacking suspect who’d been evading stop sticks designed to deflate vehicle tires.

May was trying to put down a strip of sticks near the Sahara Avenue exit when he was struck by the suspect and launched into the fleeing car. The perpetrator was shot dead by troopers shortly after, and the gravely wounded trooper was flown by helicopter to UMC in critical condition.

No additional information on the chase or shooting had been disclosed Friday.

Officials on Thursday night announced that May had lost his life. Federal, state and local officials as well as law enforcement agencies have  offered their condolences. Highway billboards flashed a message: “Respect & Honor for your service Trooper May,” while Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered that flags at state buildings be flown at half-staff until sunset Monday.

Click to enlarge photo

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Micah May

Kevin Hernandez showed up to the memorial with a bouquet of flowers. 

Hernandez said he tried to get on the I-15 on Tuesday, but that it was blocked off, noting that it’s when he realized what had happened. “It’s a tragic story to hear,” he said.

“These people put their lives out, they risk everything just to keep us safe, and protect us,” Hernandez said about law enforcement. 

Barley Juarez was there on behalf of Vitalant Blood Donation, a nonprofit that works closely with law enforcement agencies in the valley. 

As a military daughter, she said, hearing about May’s passing “hurt my heart.”

She said the nonprofit has organized a memorial blood drive in honor of the fallen trooper. It will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 11 at Nevada Highway Patrol headquarters, 4615 W. Sunset Road. 

“I could only imagine their pain and grief right now, but he’s an honorable man for what he did, he sacrificed his life,” Juarez said. “He will forever be known for it — we truly appreciate him for it.”

Early in his nearly seven-year career, Trooper Smaka, the patrol’s spokesman, worked with May, whom he described as a “good role model” for young troopers like him at the time. 

They worked graveyard shifts as squad mates for a few years, Smaka said, further describing May as “a quiet, reserved officer” who risked his own skin to catch DUI motorists, for which he won multiple awards.

May was also the recipient of a Medal of Valor in 2014, but “I never saw him wear that medal,” Smaka said. 

Asked how troopers, including himself, are taking May’s loss, Smaka said: “It’s very painful, we’re still reeling from losing Sgt. Ben Jenkins just last year.”

Jenkins was slain by a motorist he was trying to assist on the side of the road in White Pine County on March 27, 2020. The patrol has only lost 12 troopers in the line of duty in its history.

“It’s been very difficult,” Smaka said. “It’s hit us all very close to home.”

He said that the agency is immensely thankful for how the community has come together, noting that the outpouring of support is reminiscent of the community response after the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Strip. 

“There’s no better community in times of crisis than this community,” Smaka said. “Las Vegas, to many, is just the entertainment capital of the world but to us it’s a place full of our neighbors and friends and they always come through when you need them.”

A candlelight vigil to honor May, who was hired by the patrol in 2008, is open to the public. It was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Police Memorial Park in northwest Las Vegas, 3250 Metro Academy Way.

The Injured Police Officers Fund is collecting money for May’s family. More information is available on ipof.vegas.