Monday, Feb. 5, 2001 | 11:25 a.m.
A 20-year-old Las Vegas woman apparently shot herself to death in a downtown motel Sunday night shortly after firing a shot at a Metro Police sergeant.
The woman, whose name was not released this morning, is believed to have shot herself in a motel near 13th and Fremont streets about 10:30 p.m. after fleeing a confrontation with police at the intersection of Fremont and 14th streets, Capt. Dennis Cobb said.
"Officers arrived at the intersection and immediately reported shots fired," Cobb said. "At least one shot was fired by officers, but we're still investigating what happened."
The woman had not been seen in a couple of weeks by her family, who recently reported her missing, police said.
Police were first called to the area of Sixth and Fremont streets about 6 p.m. Sunday on a report of a woman brandishing a gun. Officers checked the area but were not able to locate anyone with a gun, Cobb said.
Officers were called back to the area about 9:30 p.m. on a report of a woman firing a gun, but officers again were not able to find the woman.
At 10:20 dispatchers got a second call from someone stating that a woman matching the description of the woman from the earlier calls was in the area of 14th and Fremont streets.
A sergeant spotted her and confronted the woman. According to police, she turned, pointed the gun at the sergeant and fired a shot. The sergeant returned fire. Neither person was hit, police said.
The woman then ran north to a nearby motel off 13th Street. She banged on the door of one of the rooms and was let in by a man she apparently didn't know.
Officers prepared for a stand-off, Cobb said. Instead, "they heard a shot from inside the apartment and saw an occupant flee. The officers then entered the apartment to check on the safety of any other occupants, and found the suspect dead from what is believed to be a self-inflicted wound."
Before the fatal shot was fired, the resident of the motel room could hear officers outside the building and told the woman that when officers knocked, he would open the door. It was then the woman apparently put the gun to her head and fired, police said.
Police also found a car parked near the intersection of Fremont and 14th had been struck by a bullet, and detectives are trying to determine its origins. No one else was hurt during the incident, which shut down traffic on Fremont between 13th and 15th Streets into Monday morning.
The sergeant was put on administrative leave with pay, which is routine in officer-involved shootings. The sergeant's name will not be released until 48 hours after the shooting, per department policy.
Sunday's incident was the third officer-involved shooting of the year. David Herrera, 27, was shot and killed by Officer Alfred Woodruff on Jan. 17 in front of his home in a neighborhood near Tropicana Avenue and Nellis Boulevard.
Officers tried unsuccessfully to get Herrera to drop a knife that he had apparently used to threaten two state mental health workers.
On Jan. 28 three Metro officers and a security guard were ambushed as they entered a unit at the Hampton Court Apartments on Swenson Street near Flamingo Road. The officers, responding to a call of a shot being fired, were greeted by a hail of gunfire from an assault rifle and a shotgun when they entered the apartment.
Two of the officers and a security guard were wounded in the exchange and have recovered from their injuries.
Francisco Benitez, 37, was found dead inside the apartment from what may have been a self-inflicted wound after a seven-hour standoff, police said. A second suspect, Jose Vallejo, 44, surrendered.