A woman armed with a shovel struck a vehicle and threatened two people before an officer shot her, according to Las Vegas Metro police.
During a press conference Tuesday, Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman of Las Vegas Metro police said dispatchers received a call at 10:13 p.m. on May 12 stating a woman, identified as Sommer Richards, 34, was threatening others with a broom and a skillet in a neighborhood near Nellis Boulevard and Desert Inn Road. Another person said Richards was banging a shovel on the ground and speaking to herself.
Zimmerman said the call was generated as “STAR Protocol” which stands for supervisor’s tactic for armed subject response. He said this type of response includes a minimum of three officers and a supervisor. They are dispatched if there is credible information that a person is armed and the person is acting in a threatening manner with a weapon.
A caller informed dispatchers that Richards struck a vehicle and that the vehicle belongs to her boyfriend, who works as a security guard at a nearby business. By 10:18 p.m. the caller’s boyfriend arrived at the scene. The pair confronted Richards, who swung the shovel at them and missed, Zimmerman said.
At 10:20 p.m. Officer Ondre Wills of Las Vegas Metro police arrived at the scene and saw Richards in the street with the shovel. He got out of his vehicle and told her to drop the shovel. Standing between Richards and the victims, Wills continued to tell Richards to drop the shovel but she did not comply. Richards eventually moved towards the victims with the shovel and Wills fired seven times at her, police said.
"Ma'am, if you take one more step, I will shoot you. If you take one more step, I will shoot you!" Wills yelled. "Drop the shovel! Ma'am, what's going on? Drop the shovel!"
Zimmerman said he did not have an explanation for the number of shots fired. He also noted that a shovel can be considered a deadly weapon, depending on the situation.
"He was engaged with her at a close distance, and he felt that she was closing the distance, at least from the video," Zimmerman said. "It's just like a baseball bat could, but anything you could be struck with, if you're stuck in the head with a baseball bat it could be considered deadly force."
Wills called for a medical response. At that time, another officer arrived at the scene and attempted to put a tourniquet on Richards but she bit the officer’s hand. Richards was taken to Sunrise Hospital where she is listed in serious but stable condition, Zimmerman said.
She was booked in absentia for two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, tampering with a motor vehicle and battery on a protected person.
Zimmerman said Richards has a prior criminal history dating back to January 2017 which includes possession of a controlled substance, possession of a credit card without owner’s consent, tampering with a motor vehicle and nine other misdemeanors. She was arrested 18 times for failure to appear and had seven prior incidents involving the crisis intervention team, including one two days before the officer-involved shooting.
A court hearing for Richards is scheduled on Wednesday.
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