08/16/2006

Man who shot at Las Vegas officer was wanted in Arizona

By Ken Ritter
The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS- A man accused of firing 14 shots at a Las Vegas police sergeant was wanted in Arizona in a carjacking and robbery spree including a pursuit that left a deputy injured, police said.

Raul Eduardo Gonzalez, 31, was sought in several armed carjackings in Phoenix, Maricopa County and Williams, and an armed robbery of a pizza shop in Flagstaff, Ariz., Las Vegas police Sgt. Rocky Alby said Tuesday.

Alby and a sheriff's spokeswoman in Surprise, Ariz., linked Gonzalez to an Aug. 8 crash involving a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy chasing a stolen car. The deputy was treated for minor injuries, the officials said.

Clark County Sheriff Bill Young released a mall security video Monday showing an Aug. 9 shootout between a man identified as Gonzalez and Las Vegas police Sgt. Robert Schultz outside The Boulevard Mall in Las Vegas. The mall is about 2 1/2 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip.

In the black-and-white video, the man appears to wait at a corner of the building for the marked police cruiser to approach before firing several shots from a handgun. The driver's door of the patrol car opens and the car comes to a slow stop as bullets appear to hit the windshield.

Schultz, 49, a 27-year department veteran, received cuts on his face from flying glass and bullet fragments, and one bullet lodged in a headrest in the police car, Young said. Schultz fired three shots out through his windshield. One struck the gunman's left heel, police said.

The gunman limped away and took a 36-year-old woman hostage, authorities said.

Two police officers who were in the mall tackled Gonzalez as he lowered his gun, police said. The woman hostage was treated for minor injuries.

Young praised the two officers who arrested Gonzalez for their restraint. He said they would have been justified if they shot Gonzalez.

The sheriff also said it was important to release the video to show how brazen criminal have become in Las Vegas.

Young has defended his department amid criticism about a spike in the number of officer-involved shootings and about a Clark County coroner's inquest process that critics say favors the police version of events.

The shooting outside the mall was 21st involving Las Vegas police this year. Eleven people have died in police confrontations in 2006, including one who was shocked with a Taser. By comparison, Las Vegas police were involved in 13 shootings in all of 2005, nine fatal.

Gonzalez, a Mexican citizen, had been deported by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this year, Alby said.

He spelled his last name Gonzales and used several birthdates, police said, and was initially identified following his arrest as Fidel Manuel Castro and Jesse Castro. He faces charges including attempted murder of a police officer.

Schultz remained on paid administrative leave Tuesday, pending a departmental review of the shooting.

Gonzalez was being held Tuesday in the Clark County jail, where he could not be reached for comment pending an Aug. 28 preliminary hearing in Las Vegas Justice Court. He had not been assigned a lawyer by the Clark County public defender's office.

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