POSTED: 07:55 p.m. HST, Jun 02, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 07:56 p.m. HST, Jun 02, 2014
LAS VEGAS » Authorities in Las Vegas on Monday identified a purse-snatching suspect killed in a weekend police chase and shootout as a convicted felon with a history of petty theft arrests dating to 2004.
Police also identified the two veteran patrol officers involved in the fatal shooting late Friday of Danny Michael Wadsworth Jr.
Officials said Wadsworth opened fire with a handgun at officers chasing his vehicle on Sahara Avenue near Interstate 15.
Officers Jeffrey Gentry, 45, a police officer since January 1999, and Bryce Martines, 27, a nearly six-year department veteran, were placed on paid leave pending departmental and Clark County district attorney investigations of the shooting.
Police said investigators traced Wadsworth's location by tracking a cellphone in a purse stolen from one of two women as they walked to a parking structure at the Town Square shopping center on Las Vegas Boulevard south of the Strip.
Capt. Matt McCarthy told reporters early Saturday that officers broke off an initial chase of Wadsworth's vehicle near Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive for safety reasons because he was driving so erratically.
Officers resumed the chase on I-15 and followed Wadsworth's vehicle onto Sahara Avenue, where the fleeing vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic in the westbound lanes and crashed into with another vehicle, McCarthy said.
Wadsworth opened fire with a handgun before he was shot and killed, police said.
Two people in the other vehicle were taken to a hospital where McCarthy said they were treated and released.
Officials say a police officer received minor injuries and two people in a 2014 Ford Fiesta suffered moderate injuries when their vehicles collided on I-15 while the officer was responding to the chase. The injuries weren't described as life-threatening.
Police said the shooting was the eighth involving Las Vegas officers this year. Five have been fatal.
Records show that Wadsworth was convicted in May 2013 in Clark County District Court of attempted possession of a firearm, a felony, and sentenced to three years' probation and attendance in a drug court program.
Anna Clark, the deputy public defender who represented him in that case, didn't immediately comment Monday about Wadsworth.
Wadsworth also was convicted in March 2010 in state court of misdemeanor conspiracy to commit grand larceny and released with credit for six months already served in county jail.