Police still searching for suspects in bar shooting

LAS VEGAS - Police were still searching Tuesday for at least two other suspects who stormed into a bar crowded with off-duty cops and started shooting.

Meanwhile, Dennis Devitte, the only officer armed with a gun Sunday morning, was being called a hero for fatally shooting one of the suspects.

''His actions are heroic by anyone's measure,'' Sheriff Jerry Keller said Tuesday at a news conference.

About 1:22 a.m. Sunday, at least three masked gunmen entered the back door of Mr. D's sports bar apparently with intentions of robbing it, Keller said. They ordered patrons to the floor.

But the robbers picked the wrong bar. Mr. D's was filled with off-duty cops who came to hear ''Pig in a Blanket,'' a band made up of police officers.

Police showed a surveillance video that shows one gunman being tackled to the ground by patrons after he jumped over the bar. The second suspect, Emilio Rodriguez, 19, heads toward the main part of the bar while the third suspect comes in shooting, first at the ceiling then into the crowd.

Police aren't sure if three or four suspects were involved.

The third suspect then goes to assist the first one, who was still being held behind the bar.

Devitte and Rodriguez then exchange gunfire. Police don't know who fired the first shot. The off-duty officer fired his gun eight times, hitting the gunman each time. Devitte was hit seven times. Another suspect fired his gun as well.

Rodriguez was shot several times and fled through the front door before collapsing on the sidewalk in front of the bar. He was dead at the scene. Police said Rodriguez was an ex-felon with an extensive arrest record.

The other bandits fled the scene.

Four other bar patrons, who were not police officers, were injured. Three were treated and released at University Medical Center while the fourth remained in fair condition Tuesday. Devitte was also in fair condition with gunshot wounds to his leg, knee and hand.

''Dennis chose to be armed and thank goodness in this circumstance,'' Keller said.

Witnesses said about 70 people were in the bar at the time of the shootings. Police have interviewed more than 40 witnesses and are asking for the public's help in identifying the other gunmen.

In 1998, Devitte shot Lonnie James, 51, as James waved a knife at officers in a vacant lot. The shooting was ruled justified during a Clark County coroner's inquest a month later. Another coroner's inquest jury will decide if Sunday's shooting was justified.


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