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July 28, 2014

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Strip has seen its share of headline-grabbing crimes in past year

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Steve Marcus

Metro Police cars are shown in front of Bally’s after an early morning shooting that killed one person and wounded two others in Drai’s, a nightclub inside Bally’s, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013. A suspect is reported in custody.

When violent crime occurs on the Las Vegas Strip, it makes headlines around the world.

Monday's shooting outside Drai’s nightclub at Bally’s, in which one man was killed and two security officials were shot, was no different.

Attention-grabbing crimes on the world-famous 4-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South came fast and furious earlier this year in February. During a 15-day period on the Strip, a couple was attacked in a hotel elevator, three people were shot outside a movie theater and an unprecedented shootout took place on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Those events prompted Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to declare: “As you know, there are no absolutes where people’s behavior is in question … (but) we provide a level of comfort to tourists who visit here, people who live here and work here. Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip are a safe place to live, work and to visit.”

Here’s a look at some noteworthy crimes to occur on the Strip in the past year.

    • Metro Police officers stand watch outside the entrance to the Excalibur hotel-casino after a shooting near the registration desk left two dead, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, in Las Vegas.

      Murder-suicide at Excalibur

      Edward Brandt, 31, of Lake Forest, Ill., fatally shot Jessica Kenny, 30, of Las Vegas, on Dec. 14, 2012, at the concierge desk at the Excalibur. Brandt then turned the gun on himself and died of a self-­inflicted gunshot wound to the head, officials said.

    • Attack on blackjack dealer at Bellagio

      Brenda Stokes, 50, of Las Vegas, approached co-worker Joyce Rhone, who was dealing blackjack, about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 2012, at Bellagio, police said. With a razor blade in each hand, Stokes sliced a deep cut on the right side of Rhone’s face and three or four smaller cuts around her right eye, according to a police report of the incident.

      A casino patron intervened and held down Stokes until security arrived.

      In addition to the attack, Stokes also was charged with killing a family friend, 10-year-old Jade Morris, earlier in the day. Stokes awaits trial.

    • Parking garage shooting

      A disagreement between two teens over a lost job, police say, led to a Feb. 6 shooting at the Showcase Mall, 3785 Las Vegas Blvd. South, that injured three people, two of them critically. Devante Jeffers, 18, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of battery with use of a deadly weapon. He is due back in Las Vegas Township Justice Court in March 2013.

      A second suspect, 21-­year­-old Ariya Manoi, remains at ­large.

    • Elevator stabbing at The Hotel

      Metro Police said an elevator ride on Feb. 16 at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay turned violent for a husband and wife attempting to head back to their room.

      According to a police report:

      Two men, Trent Wilcox and Carlos Heredia, entered the elevator and began exchanging words with the couple. When the elevator stopped on the 31st floor, Wilcox and Heredia stepped out momentarily, but the argument continued. Heredia blocked the elevator door with his foot and grabbed what appeared to be a knife from his pocket while Wilcox re-entered. The wife told them to leave and tried to push them, but Wilcox grabbed her husband in a chokehold and shoved him to the ground.

      Heredia then repeatedly struck the husband with the knife and, in the process, accidentally struck Wilcox, as well.

      Heredia pleaded guilty to a charge of battery with substantial bodily harm. Sentencing is set for Dec. 12. Wilcox pleaded guilty to attempted battery with substantial bodily harm and was sentenced to 12 months in jail.

    • Strip shooting, wreck, explosion

      Perhaps the most notorious of the Strip crimes occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 21. Police say that’s when 27-year-old self-proclaimed pimp Ammar Harris is accused of shooting from his Range Rover at a Maserati driven by Kenneth Cherry as the two were driving north on Las Vegas Boulevard. Cherry subsequently lost control of his car and slammed into a cab, causing it to explode.

      The incident, police said, began with an argument in the valet area of the Aria.

      Cherry died, as did cab driver Michael Boldon, 62, and Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, a businesswoman from Maple Valley, Wash., who was riding in the cab.

      Freddy Walters, a passenger in Cherry’s car, was shot but survived.

      Harris, who has been charged with three counts of capital murder, is scheduled to go to trial in December.

    • Off-duty officer shoots car intruder

      An off-duty Metro officer, Bernard Plaskett, 54, shot Saul Villegas, 27, who allegedly climbed into the officer’s personal vehicle Aug. 11 in a loading zone at the Excalibur.

      According to authorities, Plaskett was parked at the hotel's loading zone to drop off packages when Villegas climbed into the vehicle. Plaskett repeatedly told Villegas to get out and identified himself as a police officer.

      After Villegas appeared to lower his hands out of view, Plaskett drew his gun and shot Villegas in the wrist, Metro said.

      Villegas, of Bellflower, Calif., is scheduled to be arraigned in December on attempted grand larceny auto and conspiracy to commit burglary.

    • Jesus Magdaleno, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, and Felix Cruz are shown waving their arms in the back of a pickup that police say was stolen from the valet area of the Flamingo on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013. The men suffered fatal injuries when the truck crashed into an SUV at Flamingo Road and Valley View Boulevard.

      Carjacking turns deadly

      James Robert Montgomery, 29, of Tustin, Calif., is charged in an Aug. 18 incident with murder, kidnapping, grand theft auto, burglary, robbery and driving under the influence after he allegedly stole a 2009 Ford F-150 from the Flamingo valet and raced away while two men were in the truck bed.

      Both of the men, 33-year-old California Highway Patrol officer Jesus Manual Magdaleno Jr. and 31-year-old Felix Brandon Cruz III, were ejected from the truck and suffered fatal injuries after the truck was involved in a crash at Flamingo Road and Valley View Boulevard, about a mile from where the incident began, according to a Metro Police arrest report.

      Attorneys for Montgomery have said they believe their client may have been drugged before the incident. He is due back in court in November.

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