Las Vegas Sun

January 31, 2015

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Nye County dispute turns deadly; 58-year-old jailed on murder, assault counts

Avery Church was arrested Sunday on counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Avery Church was arrested Sunday on counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Deadly shooting

A confrontation spurred after a man allegedly pulled a gun on four teenage boys turned fatal Sunday in Amargosa Valley.

Deputies found John Sprague suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen just before 4 p.m., the Nye County Sheriff’s Office said. Sprague died during transport to a hospital.

Deputies arrested 58-year-old Avery Church, Amargosa Valley, on one count of murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Here is what deputies described from their investigation:

The dispute began Friday, when Church, the four teenage boys and an adult family member began arguing at a residence. Church pulled his gun during the dispute but ultimately put the weapon away and left.

A second argument occurred Sunday between Church and the same four boys while they were collecting firewood across the street from his home. Church pulled the gun again and, this time, fired twice into a stump near the teenagers. The boys left the area and went to tell an adult family member and Sprague what happened.

When Sprague went to the Church’s residence and confronted him, Church shot him. Church claimed Sprague punched him twice, and Church shot Sprague in self-defense.

Church is in custody without bail in Nye County.

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  1. Even if Church's claim of "self-defense" has any merit at all, why did Sprague decide to confront Church himself rather than call the cops?!?

    Church had already committed at least two illegal acts that should have been reported. Church had clearly demonstrated that he was a danger.

    The fatality was completely avoidable. Handled in the correct way Church would still have been arrested and Sprague would still be alive.