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Manhunt widens for Vegas Strip shooting suspect

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  • AP
    This photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Ammar Harris in a booking photo from a 2012 arrest in Las Vegas. Police have identified Harris as a suspect in a shooting that sent a Maserati into a taxi that exploded
  • 2013 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
  • killing three people on Feb. 21

LAS VEGAS » Police said today they have a warrant for a 26-year-old ex-convict identified as the prime suspect in a shooting and fiery crash that killed three people last week on the Las Vegas Strip.

"We can say with certainty that Ammar Harris is the suspect who fired the fatal shots," Las Vegas police Capt. Chris Jones told reporters at an afternoon update about a manhunt that he said would be advertised on southern Nevada billboards.

Police previously released a photo of Harris taken after his arrest last year in Las Vegas in a 2010 prostitution case. It showed Harris with tattoos on his right cheek and words on his neck above an image that appeared to depict an owl with blackened eyes. Jones said Harris should be considered armed and dangerous.

Jones said investigators were looking everywhere Harris had lived in the past. He wasn’t specific.

Public records show that Harris previously lived in South Carolina and Georgia, and told a police officer when he was arrested in Miami Beach last December that he had lived in Florida for about a year.

Harris was convicted in 2004 in Orangeburg, S.C., of felony possession with intent to sell a stolen pistol, Jones said. The conviction was not in California, as police said earlier.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson attended the news conference and said afterward that the case was getting top priority from prosecutors and he hoped Harris would turn himself in. He said the warrant was issued Friday.

"If Mr. Harris is listening, I would urge him to surrender," Wolfson said.

Harris used the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris when he was arrested last May in Las Vegas in the June 2010 case. He was charged with robbery, sexual assault, kidnapping and coercion with a weapon.

Las Vegas police also sought pandering by force and ex-felon in possession of concealed weapon charges stemming from allegations that Harris was a pimp and attacked a woman.

Court records show the case was dismissed last June. The prosecutor and a public defender who handled the case didn’t immediately respond to messages Monday.

In Miami Beach, Harris was arrested Dec. 7 after he was accused of driving a silver 2006 Hummer H3 the wrong way on a congested street at 2 a.m. The arresting officer said Harris produced a Florida state identification card and provided a Miami address. The status of the case in Miami-Dade courts was unclear Monday.

In Atlanta, Harris was arrested in June 2004 on a felony marijuana possession with intent to distribute charge. According to court records, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge and was sentenced to three months in jail.

Fulton County jail records show Harris spent about two weeks in jail in February 2008 after a misdemeanor battery arrest. The outcome of that case was not immediately clear Monday.

In Las Vegas, investigators say Harris was driving a black Range Rover SUV when he fired shots into a Maserati before dawn Thursday, killing an aspiring rapper and causing a crash that killed two people when the Maserati slammed into a taxi that exploded in a fireball at the heart of the Strip.

Police said several other people were with Harris in the SUV as it fled the scene of the six-vehicle, chain-reaction crash on Las Vegas Boulevard near the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally’s and Flamingo resorts.

Jones and police homicide Lt. Ray Steiber said they were confident that Harris was the only shooter. They didn’t say whether police intend to prosecute anyone else in the SUV.

But, "To anyone who is aware of his location or is assisting Ammar Harris in any way, you will be arrested and prosecuted," Jones said. "You may think you’re being a friend, but keep in mind Ammar Harris is wanted for the murder of three citizens."

The SUV was the focus of an intense search before it was found Saturday parked in the garage of a gated apartment complex just a couple of blocks east of the Strip. Harris wasn’t found at a nearby apartment where he was believed to have been living.

Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. was mortally wounded when the dark gray Maserati he was driving was peppered by gunfire from the SUV. Taxi driver Michael Boldon, 62, of Las Vegas, and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash., died in the taxi.

Police say the triple homicide stemmed from an altercation between Cherry and Harris in a valet area of the upscale Aria resort a block south of the crash scene at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.

A passenger in the Maserati was wounded in the arm, and four people from four other vehicles were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the crash.

Police released a photo of Harris taken after last year’s arrest in Las Vegas in the prostitution case. It showed Harris with tattoos on his right cheek and words on his neck above an image that appeared to depict an owl with blackened eyes. Jones said Harris should be considered armed and dangerous.

Las Vegas police sought help during last week’s search for the Range Rover from local and federal authorities in Nevada and neighboring states of Arizona, California and Utah.


Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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