ELKO — A man with a rifle was shot Sunday morning by an Elko police officer responding to a domestic violence call. The suspect later died of his injuries.
Elko Central Dispatch received a report at 6:23 a.m. of a domestic violence incident at Third and Juniper streets. Police believe the call came from a neighbor and not from inside the house.
An officer was at the house within three minutes of the call, Police Chief Ben Reed said.
A 24-year-old white man and a woman were struggling over a rifle. The man was able to get the gun.
The officer demanded the man drop the gun several times, Reed said. However, the man reportedly refused to do so.
Fearing for his own safety as well as the woman’s, the officer fired several shots, hitting the man in the arm and the lower extremities, Reed said. The man fell to the ground outside the home, and the officer was able to secure the scene.
“The fact that deadly force was deployed is … used to try to take him into custody and prevent him from using deadly force on anyone else,” Reed said.
Reed said the man was transported to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital. He died as a result of his injuries at about 11:30 a.m.
“I’m glad that our personnel are OK,” Reed said. “These domestic violence incidents get heated. … When firearms are involved it’s very dangerous.”
The female victim did not suffer major injuries, Reed said.
No other officers were involved in the shooting, although several responded to the scene. The area around the house was secured for investigation, Lt. Rich Genseal said.
“It’s going to take some time to sort all this out,” Genseal said.
Reed asked the Reno-based Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division and Washoe County Crime Lab to investigate the scene. The two agencies arrived at about 1:45 p.m. Sunday.
Reed would not release the man’s name or the identity of the officer.
“By the nature of this incident, things are going to change and it’s continuing to unfold as far as how much information we gain,” Reed said.
The officer who shot the man has been placed on paid administrative leave pending conclusion of the investigation.
“It’s my intent always on incidents when we use deadly force that we be as forthcoming and transparent as we can,” Reed said.
The officer has worked for the Elko Police Department for three years, Reed said. He was working night shift and the call came in toward the end of the shift.
The last officer-involved shooting in Elko was in 1998, Reed said. In that incident, former Police Chief Mike Smith, who was a sergeant at the time, shot and killed an Indiana man who was holding a 16-year-old girl hostage on a Greyhound bus on West Idaho Street.
Prior to that, there were two officer-involved shootings in Elko County. Sheriff Jim Pitts shot and killed a Massachusetts murder suspect in March 1997 when Pitts was an undercover deputy on the Elko Combined Narcotics Unit.
In June 1996, three Elko police officers shot and killed Bart Allen Head, who allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl and her mother and was holding the woman hostage.
Witnesses, neighbors or anyone who knows the people involved in Sunday’s shooting and have information are encouraged to call the dispatch non-emergency number at 777-7300.
“Every little tidbit of information helps show the total picture,” Reed said.