In 1994 I was assigned to a federal task force investigating violent crimes. Long before the Beltway Sniper, Nevada was victim to a similar crime wave that we dubbed the “Freeway Shooter.” The suspect shot several people including the son of a local law enforcement (LE) officer, killing him instantly. Initially we believed this was an act of road rage. However, homicide detectives discovered that these crimes were committed by a lone psychopathic killer who they believed would not stop until he was apprehended or killed.
Weeks went by in the search when they finally caught a break, and through investigation they were able to develop a suspect who I will identify as “K.” This suspect was a troubled loner with a colorful past. At 22 years old, he had already done time for narcotics and weapons charges, and was described by associates as a drug user with a violent past.
Several warrants were issued for his arrest ranging from convicted person in possession of a firearm, to murder with a deadly weapon. During the next few weeks, the fugitive squad and myself played cat and mouse with K, sometimes missing him by a couple of hours. In November 1994, myself and another police detective responded on an anonymous tip that K was hiding out in a local fleabag motel. After contacting the manager, she said that he had stayed there for two nights.
Since K had not paid for another night, the room was considered abandoned, so with management’s permission we entered the room prior to maid service. The room looked like an opium den from the 19th century. There was drug paraphernalia scattered everywhere: crack pipes, used hypodermic needles and in the trashcan was the key to the puzzle – a small white piece of paper.
A search of the trashcan revealed a credit card receipt in the name of a woman who we determined earlier in the investigation was an associate of K’s. However, we could not locate her either. On the receipt there was an address with which we weren’t familiar. We decided to respond to the residence and conduct an investigation.
Usually in police work, surveillance can be long, drawn out and tedious, but this one was not. After approximately 30 minutes of us setting up, a white male with a hoodie on opened the garage door carrying a can of spray paint. In the driveway was a late 80s, early 90s white sedan facing the garage. We could not determine if this was our fugitive because of the hood; however, this is when he piqued our interest. The hooded male began spray painting the vehicle black; at that time we did not know this vehicle had been used in several of the shootings.
After completing his makeshift paint job he jumped in the driver’s side and drove off, with us following. Several times I pulled up beside him, attempting to get a glimpse of him. However, he kept that hood on for most of the trip. For some 20 minutes we continued the moving surveillance, which wasn’t very elaborate since it involved one car and two detectives.
K then pulled up to a stop sign and pulled his hood off while lighting a cigarette and that’s when I positively identified him. You couldn’t miss that mug; K was covered in tats all over the side of his neck and they were blatantly distinguishable.
At this point, having made positive ID, we attempted a felony car stop. Knowing he was facing the needle, K wasn’t going to give up that easy. The pursuit started south of the business area, continued through downtown and into a residential area in the northwest area of town. At this point I decided to end it.
K made the mistake of pulling into a cul-de-sac and that’s when we rammed him into a parked vehicle. K exited and ran towards a nearby house where we cornered him in the front yard. We proned him face down and approached with care.
A methodical search of his person and suspect vehicle revealed no weapons. Sometimes mixing luck and skill makes a good cocktail; in this case it took a maniac off the street and onto death row.
— DF, NV
In 1994 I was assigned to a federal task force investigating violent crimes. Long…
by Guns & Weapons / Feb 15, 2009