Lyon County authorities charged a 25-year-old man Thursday with 19 felonies including murder in the deaths of four people in Fernley and another off the Mustang exit on Interstate 80.
Accoring to the Associated Press, Lyon County Sheriff Allen Veil said Jeremiah Bean appeared to act alone in the random shootings at two homes in Fernley on Monday.
“The only way I can describe it is senseless,” Veil said at a news conference Wednesday.
Bean was arrested Monday on burglary charges and authorities dubbed him as a person of interest in the deaths. In the days since, authorities told the AP they now have enough evidence to seek open murder, arson, robbery, gun and grand larceny charges.
Robert Pape and Dorothy Pape, both 84, were found at a residence and Angie Duff, 67, and Lester Leiber, 69, were found about a half-block away. Veil told the AP it appears Bean stole the Papes’ vehicle where it broke down or got stuck off the Mustang exit.
Bean is suspected of shooting Eliazar Graham, a newspaper deliveryman from Sparks, and stole his truck.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen told AP a woman called to report finding Graham’s body was so distraught so struggled to detail her location.
Drug use on Bean’s part is “definitely a possibility,” according to the AP.
Veil said the attacks were on a scale he hasn’t seen in his three decades in Lyon County, which is historically a small farming community but has grown significantly in the last decade, attracting workers who commute to jobs in Reno.
Another vehicle was found at one of the victim’s homes, but Veil told the AP authorities have not identified the owner because a fire destroyed the license plate and vehicle identification number. Veil said Bean may have set the fire to destroy evidence.
According to the AP, Bean was staying two houses away from Duff’s home, but authorities said there is no evidence to connect the suspect and victims. A motive has not been established.
“I think there probably should be a sense of relief that we believe we have the person responsible for this in custody,” Veil told the AP. “However, I think there’s probably going to be a sense of shock and disbelief that something like this would happen here.”
Bean is being held at the Lyon County jail. He has an arrest record and a felony conviction related to burglary and attempted grand larceny, deputies said, and he finished his parole in December. He also has acknowledged gang ties.
Veil urged residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, even while he called the killings isolated.
“These things happen, and they happen in little Lyon County, where ... they shouldn’t,” Veil said at a news conference Wednesday. “We don’t want this in our community. We’ve just got to say no, we’re not going to put up with this.”