Police: Vegas Strip sidewalk jammed when officer shot at man
Jan. 26, 2016
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas Strip sidewalk was crowded with people viewing a musical fountain show Friday evening at the Bellagio resort when a veteran police officer answering urgent 911 calls shot twice at a man with a gun, a police official said Tuesday.
Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill showed black-and-white surveillance video of the alleged gunman, later identified as Kahleal Black, 20, of Las Vegas, waving a black snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver at people.
Black was pulling the trigger, although the gun had no bullets, McMahill said. "We're very fortunate that Black's gun was not loaded, or we might have had a very different and tragic outcome," he told reporters.
Officer George Smith fired two shots as he exited a patrol vehicle and approached to within 30 feet of Black, McMahill said.
The shots missed Black, but he dropped to the sidewalk and was arrested, McMahill said.
Black is due in court Wednesday on felony charges including assault with a deadly weapon, weapon possession and resisting a police officer.
Black pointed the gun at Smith before the officer fired, McMahill said.
Smith's shots ricocheted off cement pillars, with one grazing the leg of a 4-year-old boy from California who was on his father's shoulders, McMahill said.
The boy was treated at a hospital for what McMahill described as a bruise and a welt.
The other bullet zipped through the shoulder of clothing worn by a homeless man sitting against a pillar nearly 100 yards away.
That man wasn't wounded, McMahill said.
"We're accountable for every round that we fire from an officer's weapon," McMahill said, offering apologies to those who were injured and frightened by the incident. The boy, his parents and the homeless man weren't identified by name.
"In this event we're very lucky that the situation did not end up in a very much worse scenario," the police official said.
Black had a history of mental health issues and suicide threats going back at least a year, including an arrest in January 2015 on an obstruction charge after he was accused of trespassing at a Strip casino-hotel, McMahill said. A psychological evaluation was ordered after Black threatened suicide in jail, but he was cleared and released.
Black was reported missing by a family member a little more than two weeks later, but he returned home in mid-February. Another encounter with police three days later led to another mental health evaluation, but McMahill said he didn't have details about that case.
"This is another example of the many people in our community and our country who are in mental health crisis," McMahill said.
The exact motivation wasn't clear, but on Friday, Black quit his job and left belongings with his brother before going to heart of the Strip.
The shooting took place across Las Vegas Boulevard from where a 24-year-old woman is charged with intentionally plowing a car into a crowd of pedestrians in December, killing one person and injuring at least 35.
The revolver that McMahill said Black had in his hand when he was confronted by Smith had been reported stolen in December after a break-in at a Las Vegas home where McMahill said a hole was cut through a wall into a room where 35 weapons were taken.
Black had been escorted off the property of the Harrah's Las Vegas casino-hotel about 10 minutes before McMahill said he began approaching motorists and tourists at Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard.
"There's a guy with a gun," one woman told a 911 police dispatcher in a recording aired Tuesday. "He's literally right in the middle of the road."
One couple told police that moments before Smith arrived, Black approached them, pointed the revolver at their heads, and pulled the trigger, McMahill said.
This story corrects the spelling of the suspect's name, Kahleal Black.