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Three killed after gunshots fired from SUV cause fiery crash on Las Vegas Strip

Image

Steve Marcus

Wrecked cars are shown on Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Avenue as Las Vegas Metro Police investigate a shooting and multi-car accident that left three people dead and three injured on the Las Vegas Strip early Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2013. EDITOR’S NOTE: This photo has been digitally altered to obscure an image of one of the victims.

Updated Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 | 9 p.m.

Strip shooting crash

Smoke and flames billow from a burning vehicle following a shooting and multicar accident on the Las Vegas Strip early Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Fatal crash

The Las Vegas Strip became a scene of deadly violence early Thursday when someone in a black Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati, sending it crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.

Late Thursday afternoon, names of two of the deceased became known. The man driving the Maserati has been identified as Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., 27. Las Vegas attorney Vicki Greco, of Greco Law Group, had represented Cherry in speeding ticket cases and said friends of his had been calling throughout the day about his death. The deceased taxi driver was identified as Michael Boldon, Desert Cab company general manager Sandy Shaver confirmed.

Police said a confrontation that appeared to have begun in the valet area of the Aria resort spilled onto Las Vegas Boulevard, leading to sporadic gunshots being fired from the Range Rover as the vehicles traveled north. The accident occurred near Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, the site of several major casinos, including Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally's.

"This doesn't happen where we come from, not on this scale," said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. "We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like 'Die Hard' or something."

Police were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport with tinted windows and paper dealer plates that fled the scene about 4:30 a.m.

Metro Police Sgt. John Sheahan said the vehicles were seen pulling onto Las Vegas Boulevard near East Harmon Avenue, near City Center, then heading north. Although authorities initially said gunshots were fired from both the SUV and the Maserati, Sheahan clarified that gunfire came only from the Range Rover.

Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Doug Gillespie said after the driver of the Maserati was shot, he lost control of the car passed through a red light and hit the taxi cab, which went up in flames. Boldon and his passenger in the cab were killed. Cherry died in the Maserati, and his passenger was shot.

"What is the genesis of this, when did this all start? We don't know yet," Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said.

The passenger in the Maserati was taken to University Medical Center, where he was being interviewed by detectives.

Gillespie said there were several people in the Range Rover, but police were not saying whether they knew of any relationship or ill will between the people in the two vehicles beyond the argument at the valet station.

Tourists staying in high-rise hotels around the scene found police tape blocking access to the area around the intersection. By 8 p.m., the intersection was reopened, after police crime scene investigators were finished collecting evidence.

Jeff Martin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, said he was unable to cross the Strip several hours after the incident.

"When you're out at 4 a.m. nothing good's going to happen," he said.

Sheahan said the attack was not a rolling gun battle as previously described. The cars were stopped at a light when at least one person in the Range Rover opened fire. Several people were inside the vehicle, described as a four-door SUV with big black rims.

Multiple rounds were fired from the Range Rover, Gillespie said. He added police did not know whether what kind of firearms were used in the shooting,

Six other vehicles were involved in the crash that followed, including the taxi and Maserati.

Shaver said he was called to the scene to provide information.

Shaver also said the taxi that was struck was not fueled by propane or natural gas, as some had speculated. Gillespie said the cab exploded from the "sheer force" of the impact of the crash.

Greg Bambic, president of the Professional Drivers Association, a taxi driver organization dedicated to assisting drivers who are victims of crimes and acts of violence, said the group plans to donate $5,000 to the Boldon family.

Bambic said the organization since 2004 has donated thousands of dollars to drivers who have been robbed and assaulted on the job and their families.

“It’s drivers helping drivers,” said Bambic.

The association raises money through memberships and fund-raisers and it receives donations from Southern Nevada companies that are friendly to the cab industry. Bambic said some of the most supportive donors are the cab companies themselves.

Teri Williams, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, which oversees the Nevada Taxicab Authority, said the agency’s patrol officers were close to the scene when the incident occurred and were among the first responders.

The Taxicab Authority investigates accidents involving taxicabs.

Williams said Metro took over the investigation, but authority officers are continuing to assist. She had no further details about the status of the investigation.

The incident marked the latest violence on the Strip since the beginning of the year. Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. On Dec. 14, a busy Friday night at the Excalibur, a murder-suicide near the registration desk of the resort sent crowds visitors running to the exits.

A spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Jeremy Handel, said his organization didn't immediately have a comment on the latest incident and deferred to police.

Metro spokesman Officer Jose Hernandez acknowledged the Strip has seen several violent incidents in recent weeks but said police have made arrests or identified suspects in each case.

"People don't have to worry," he said. "This is an unusual occurrence, as tragic as it may be."

Eileen Brosnan, who was visiting Las Vegas from Killarney County Kerry, Ireland, was stunned by what she saw at the scene.

"I live in a little small town where we have absolutely no crime," she said. "The only way we hear about things like this is on CNN or news from other places. I knew there was crime here, but I wasn't expecting anything of this magnitude. I don't feel less safe, because there is plenty of security and police to deal with it. It is very surprising to me, though. I was staying at Caesars, and I just had to come down and see it."

Sheahan said police have video from traffic cameras at the intersection and were checking whether the shooting might have been sparked by an altercation at a nightclub.

"We have a lot of pieces to put together to establish a timeline as to why this confrontation occurred," Sheahan said. "We have numerous detectives checking resorts on the Strip south of this intersection."

In interviews with Fox 5 KVVU-TV, family members of Boldon said he moved to Las Vegas recently to care for his mother, who is 93. It was not clear where Boldon lived before making the move.

“My life mission would be to see (the suspects) punished and brought to justice,” said Tehran Boldon, Michael Boldon’s brother. “I don’t know what their affiliation is, if they’re in a gang or whatever. But they’re stupid and senseless men, and they must pay.”

Cherry was an aspiring rapper whose twitter feed included links to videos identifying him as "Kenny Clutch" and with scenes featuring a Maserati on the Las Vegas Strip. His attorney said Cherry loved cars and drove a gray Maserati, but she’d always remember him for his trademark dreadlocks.

“He was loyal, dependable, somebody that would always have your back if you were on his team,” Greco said. “He was a stand up guy.”

Associated Press writers Ken Ritter, Michelle Rindels and Hannah Dreier contributed to this report, as well as Sun reporters Will D’Urso, Ron Sylvester, Tovin Lapan and Richard N. Velotta.

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  1. Just another day in the United States of Special Interests whose citizens live amidst a daily lottery of increased threat of job loss and or underemployment, increased threat of loss of savings, increased threat of bodily harm and who participate in a workplace continually diminishing it's obligations and long term commitments, increasing anxiety amongst the workforce.

  2. C'mon now, the guys from the SUV were just welcoming tourists to Vegas :)That's the standard greeting nowadays on the strip right?

  3. @ Elvegas

    I can not begin to say just how wrong you are. I just hope you are not a voting citizen.God help us if you are.

  4. No description of the warring factions?

  5. Sure, Don Steele, signs of underemployment and job loss - A black Range Rover and a Maserati.

    @goingbust: That Range Rover is already in a chop shop with different wheels and plates on it. This was a professional hit.

    @Rusty57: Not only drug cartels, but don't discount the Mob - the Russian Mob.

    This was like an episode of CSI and Walker Texas Ranger rolled into one!

    And people talk about the crime in Chicago. At least the gang bangers don't drive down Michigan Ave. doing drive-bys. ANY gang banger walking down Michigan Ave would stick out like a sore thumb. And get attention from the CPD.

  6. You can actually see a chard arm sticking out of the back of the cab!!!!!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG

  7. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  8. "And people talk about the crime in Chicago."

    Yes, because Chicago had 43 murders in January.

  9. I feel real bad for the taxi driver and tourist who were killed. One person working to make a living, another most likely on vacation. Whoever made the comment that this incident started from a nightclub makes sense and i wouldnt be surprized. I love this town and it has been home for a real long time, but I'm dissapointed with the way the strip has become. Good luck metro and hopefully the fbi will get involved and they will get these people.

  10. This is what will follow. The guys in the Range Rover will get caught. All of them will be arrested.

    Soon after, they will commence the rat game - ratting each other out - crying in court, along with family members.

    And how will this be portrayed by the childish cowardly "hip hop culture?" It will be portrayed as "tough street violent survival gang mentality."

    They spew the fantasy of this - and ignore reality - that these imbeciles cry like babies in jail, rat each other out, and live a life of regret behind bars. All that will be ignored - all you will get - the fantasy mentality.

    That culture needs to be exposed for what it is - a culture of cowards - no different than a fantasy culture - imbeciles who fail to mature into adulthood - imbeciles who get stuck living this fantasy life style.

    It is like a fruit that never ripens.

  11. Where was metro? Out looking for hookers on the street? Out looking for some punk smoking a joint at home?

    Get your priorities straight! Metro is so distracted with these petty crimes they forget to guard the heart of Las Vegas.

    This is BAD for EVERYONE in Las Vegas. It is NOT good for our community.

    Condolences to the families for their loss.

  12. "Jeff Martin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, said he was unable to cross the Strip several hours after the incident.

    Mr. Martin could have crossed the Strip if he would have simply gone to another intersection.

    "'When you're out at 4 a.m. nothing good's going to happen,' he said."

    Such a small-town cliche. Las Vegas is a 24-hour city. Good and bad happens all the time.

  13. How many unnecessary deaths have occurred in Las Vegas so far this year? There must be a running count.

  14. The above is the reason they outlawed guns in frontier towns like Deadwood. Guns, booze, drugs, whores and rappers don't mix. More people get blown to bits in this town in a few days than in the entire wild West. Most frontier towns had about one murder a year. In this town every morning you open the newspaper there's another adventure. But I'm sure all these guys were using their guns for self-defense.

    The legislators want businesses and families to move here? How about better education, medical care and reduce the murder rate. If this keeps up its going to affect tourism and that's going to cost the city of fortune.

  15. Good lord, what a sorry bunch of commentors. Making it about race, or Metro, or guns? Dear Lord, people, have some shame, and compassion.

  16. My guess it had something to do with the Nike convention going on

  17. LastThroes, how much do you want to wager that the perps in this case were not "rightwings"?

    I'm guessing they were either A-political or Obama supporters. But let's wait until all the facts come out first.

  18. Not even a messed up car jacking. Does sound like the "people" in the Range Rover were out to kill--didn't seem to matter who else was hurt. We need to keep violent people locked up forever and ever. Let's build prisons and hype the DOC budget--within a few years we'll have double the "savings" in court costs and cost of law enforcement to locate and arrest the same perps over and over again. And think of the enhancement to our personal safety.

  19. This story is not about politics, please keep such comments to a minimum or avoid them completely.

  20. The people who were killed and injured are the most important, and their families. My prayers are with them.

    The trauma to tourists is also a sorry mess, and I hope they will recover, and return someday.

    The torrid details are tragic, and secondary. The police will deal with that.

    Certainly, this is not something to be speculated on or a cause of fear of the Strip.

    Bless all the effected victims and families.

  21. Innocent people dying in this town is a daily occurrence. They could do a reality show on Vegas death and mayhem and never run out of material.
    All this crap is caused by guns. In decades of police work I have never seen a drive by with a bow and arrow or sling shot. These guys got into a dispute and decided to settle it the old fashioned way. By blowing the hell out of each other and anyone in between.

  22. Vegas DLight - Don't throw out the term Hip Hop Culture if you have no clue what Hip Hop Culture is. The stuff you see on TV and hear on the radio isn't Hip Hop culture, it's Pop Culture. People that live the Hip Hop life aren't about this kind of thing. There are plenty of sub-genres in Rap music. Making blanket assumptions such as you have does not add anything positive to this discourse.

  23. Welcome to "Fabulous Anarchy Park"

  24. Kenny Clutch (aka Rapper Kenneth Cherry) luved his Maserati...

    http://www.myspace.com/175794082/photos/...

    But he also worshipped this lifestyle...

    http://www.myspace.com/175794082/photos/...

  25. To all of you who immediately stereotyped and assumed this was due to thugs, rappers, gangs, hip-hop, etc......it appears you were all correct.

  26. The Casino industry and Locals need to set Metro straight on their priorities.

    What is it going to be? Busting a few prostitutes or pot smokers at home? Or focusing on keeping the Strip safe?

    Do these people understand that the Strip is the source of EVERYTHING here in Las Vegas?

    Do they comprehend how much damage this does to tourism in Las Vegas?

    Metro needs to ensure that they have heavy officers on the strip at ALL TIMES. This will reduce even the thought of engaging in such criminal conduct.

  27. This shooting was not about any kind of music. It was probably about some insignificant slight one committed against the other and it escalated into a shooting because someone got their feelings hurt. They were drunk or high and hypersensitive over something that happened earlier. When immature people get hold of a little money, alcohol/drugs and guns, this type of thing has to happen.

  28. It's time to gun up!

  29. My heart goes out to the innocent victims caught up in this mornings violence on the strip,and that includes Mr.Cherry.
    In reality these events could have happened in any big city in America,especially one that has upwards of 2 million residents and in addition hosts 40 million visitors a year.
    It will not deter us from visiting Las Vegas,a place where we feel safe, but at the same time we understand the need to be vigilant.Strip is edgy, and at times violent,but that sort of uncertainly and edginess is a draw for some,and it is for us.
    Hope Metro can apprehend the perpetrators of this mornings carnage and incarcerate them for as long as Nevada law permits.

  30. While you don't have a corner on violence in Vegas, you sure do have your share of shootings! You have more a month than Honolulu has in a year...

    Mr Moderator, while your attempt to limit 1st amendment rights of posting, those same rather unusual posts from readers who are on their own agenda are sometimes what makes reading these articles fun and interesting.

    However, It is a sad day when we forget to give condolences to the folks who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cab driver and his passenger didn't deserve this and I hope their families collect millions from the pathetic car company that produced a car that catches fire after what looks in pictures to be a brush by accident.
    Note that I didn't see it, but it sure didn't look like they hit very hard.

    JMO: In this case, I would follow the fact he's a known Pimp, it's late night and it probably started in one of the nightclubs. I surmise this was a territory hit, and you're probably closer to anything else. Nothing to do with his being a hippity-hopper.

    "The lawyer for the deceased helped him with parking tickets"... yeah, right, and never helped him with pandering? But all his friends are calling the lawyer to find out what happened. Hmmmmm....

    Also loved your author, when he couldn't get anyone important to interview, went to the Cab Police and wrote 75% of the article based on that. Nothing to do with what happened, but a damn good interview, no less!

    I'm coming in 3 weeks, please make sure the Strip is safe and ready for me. They won't let me bring a gun from Hawaii, so I'll be one of the 10% that's not packing.

    js

  31. "You have more a month than Honolulu has in a year..."

    That's because thugs just can't hop in a car and be in Hawaii in 4 hours.

  32. <<Yes, because Chicago had 43 murders in January>>

    Reza: True, however, these murders did not happen in high profile tourist areas, but in areas where there ALWAYS was high crime. In areas such as Michigan Ave. or any high profile tourist area, there is some serious police presence. These areas have their own details, either walking the beat or in cars.

    I'm not sticking up for the crime rate in Chicago; I find it disgusting and heartbreaking. But Vegas shouldn't be patting themselves on the back because it has a lower crime rate than Chicago. In fact - it should wake up and quit trying to hide the rising crime rate in the city. When innocent tourists are at risk and getting killed - there is a serious problem. Admit it.