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State official dead after shots fired in Henderson home

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Tiffany Gibson

Henderson Police restrict traffic while authorities are at the scene of a man who barricaded himself inside a home Thursday. The man, Eric Thatcher, was later found dead of a gunshot wound.

Updated Thursday, April 22, 2010 | 6:55 p.m.

State Official Dies

Henderson Police restrict traffic while authorities are at the scene of a man who barricaded himself inside a home Thursday. Launch slideshow »

Man barricaded

A state fire marshal found dead after exchanging gunfire with police during a Thursday standoff at his house had been fired and rehired as a highway patrol officer, recently split with his wife and had a separate home shadowed by foreclosure, property records and a state official said.

"He was doing a good job at the fire marshal's office," Jerry Hafen, Nevada state Department of Public Safety director, told the Associated Press after Eric Thatcher, a 38-year-old former trooper, was found dead in a two-story home.

Nevada Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Gail Powell said Thursday that Thatcher was a highway patrol trooper for six years and a state fire marshal for three years.

Police spokesman Todd Rasmussen said officers were called about 11:30 a.m. on a report that a man was depressed and had barricaded himself in a home in the 2700 block of Auchmull Street. That location is near Democracy Drive and Anthem Highlands Drive.

The call was made by a man who had left the home because he didn't feel safe around Thatcher and the gun, police said. There had not been a dispute between the men, but Thatcher had been making suicidal statements, Rasmussen said.

Authorities said the man identified as Thatcher fired several shots in the direction of officers after they arrived at the scene. No one was injured during the shooting, but bullets struck neighboring homes and police cars, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said the SWAT team evacuated nearby homes and the police Crisis Negotiation Unit was called to the scene.

During the standoff, a SWAT officer fired at least one shot. After the officer fired his gun, the SWAT team entered the home, where authorities found Thatcher dead. No other injuries were reported.

It was unclear if the officer fatally shot Thatcher or if Thatcher had shot himself, Rasmussen said. The Clark County Coroner’s Office will release a cause of death.

The name of the officer who fired the weapon will be released in 48 hours, which is standard policy. The officer will be placed on administrative leave, Rasmussen said.

Neighbors said the police activity was out of character for the normally quiet neighborhood.

Karla Marquis, 63, said she was waiting for her grandson's school bus when she noticed a SWAT vehicle. She said it was a shock because the neighborhood is usually quiet and peaceful.

Robert Zeigler, 36, said he was leaving his house in the area when he noticed police vehicles drive up and saw officers holding assault rifles.

Hafen confirmed Thatcher was the NHP trooper fired in early 2005 over allegations of excessive force in the arrest of a Las Vegas man in a hit-and-run crash investigation, and rehired in 2006 after a hearing officer found a lack of evidence for the dismissal.

A Clark County District Court judge in February 2008 awarded Thatcher about $30,000 in back pay.

Property records show Eric and Malissa Thatcher bought the three-bedroom house in Henderson's Anthem neighborhood in May 2008. They paid almost $360,000.

The pair also own at least two other properties in Henderson, records show. One is a three-bedroom home bought last September for $169,000.

The other, a four-bedroom home they bought for $120,000 in 2001, was placed in default April 1, according to records at the Clark County recorder's office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.