Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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State fire official’s death ruled suicide

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

The Clark County Coroner’s Office has confirmed that a state fire marshal found dead after exchanging gunfire with Henderson police last week died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Eric Thatcher, 38, was found dead in his home in the 2700 block of Auchmull Street on Thursday with a gunshot wound to the head after barricading himself inside the home. His death was ruled a suicide, the coroner’s office said.

Authorities said Thatcher had been fired and rehired as a highway patrol officer, recently split with his wife and had a separate home shadowed by foreclosure.

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

Police say 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.

During a standoff, a SWAT officer, identified as Ritch Melchert, fired at least one shot. After Melchert fired his gun, the SWAT team entered the home, where authorities found Thatcher dead. Melchert has been a SWAT officer with Henderson Police for 10 years, authorities said.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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