Alcohol, anti-depressants blamed in Sunday’s string of events — (Las Vegas Sun)

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Las Vegas Sun

By Jeff O’Brien

Tue, Nov 18, 2008 (2:01 p.m.)

When Marcos Ornelas was walking to work Sunday, the waiter at Joe’s Crab Shack thought it was going to be another normal afternoon.

But as he got closer to the restaurant near the intersection of Flamingo Road and the 215 Beltway, he was greeted by dozens of police cars and a helicopter circling overhead.

It was about 4:30 p.m., when many residents were out doing their Sunday shopping.

“Everyone was scared to get out of their cars,” Ornelas said. “I thought it might have been a terrorist attack or something.”

Ornelas arrived just after the conclusion of a bizarre crime spree that began nearly two hours earlier ­ spanning almost 20 miles, involving 13 separate criminal acts and ending in the suspect’s suicide.

One set of crimes generally occurred in the Northwest Las Vegas Valley from about Cheyenne Avenue north to Alexander Road, between Buffalo Drive and Hualapai Way. Another group of incidents happened in the Southwest Valley near where the man died near the Beltway.

According to Metro Police, the acts committed by a man in a black Volkswagen Beetle included attempted kidnapping, attempted robbery and discharging a firearm in public.

What began on Applecrest Street near Jones Boulevard and Rancho Drive ­ where the man is suspected of groping a woman ­ ended 17 miles south on Grand Canyon Avenue, where he crashed his car and shot himself as police approached the vehicle.

In between, police say the man tried to kidnap a 3-year-old girl ­ firing shots at her as she escaped with her mother ­ and also fired shots at a boy on a bicycle.

Other than the death of the suspect, no one else was injured in the spree, said officer Jay Rivera of Metro Police. No motive has been established, although investigators say alcohol and anti-depressants were involved.

Metro said the man was carrying two guns in his vehicle ­one handgun and one rifle.

Shortly before his death, he was spotted across the street from Joe’s Crab Shack in the parking lot of the Roadrunner Saloon.

After trying to grope a woman outside the restaurant, the man tried to run over two men in his car, said Shawn Olson, general manager of the Roadrunner Saloon.

“From what I understand, it was a pretty rare occurrence and a bizarre incident,” Olson said. “Maybe because of the holidays coming up people get more stressed or go mental.”

The commercial district in the vicinity of the Beltway and Flamingo, Olson said, is typically safe with few incidents of crime.

Rivera said he was amazed that more people weren’t hurt during the entire spree.

“Luckily for us, incidents such as this don’t occur very often,” he said. “This was a terrible case, but it really had the potential to be much more devastating.”

Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or jeff.obrien@hbcpub.com.