LAS VEGAS (AP) — A veteran Las Vegas police officer patrolling an area that officials identified as a hotspot for crime died after being shot early Thursday during an exchange of gunfire with a man who was later arrested, authorities said.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters that Officer Truong Thai was fatally wounded while he and another officer answered a 1:08 am emergency call about a domestic disturbance near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“The suspect was armed with a firearm and fired at our officers,” Lombardo said. “Both responding officers discharged their duty weapons. One officer was struck.”
Thai was wounded in the torso and died at a hospital, Lombardo said.
A woman who was nearby was wounded and was taken to a hospital, where she was expected to survive, police said.
The suspect, Tyson Hampton, 24, of Las Vegas, drove away from the shooting scene and initially refused to surrender when he was stopped several blocks away, Lombardo said. A police dog was used during Hampton’s arrest, and Lombardo said Hampton received minor injuries.
Hampton, who was identified by police as the suspect in the domestic violence call, was due to be booked into the Clark County jail pending an initial court appearance on charges including murder and attempted murder. Records did not immediately reflect if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Court records showed that Hampton had a criminal history in Las Vegas, where he pleaded no contest in April 2021 to a reduced charge of displaying a weapon in a threatening manner. A felony charge of assault with a weapon was dismissed. Hampton was represented by the Clark County public defender’s office at that time.
“The incident demonstrates the dangers our officers face every day just putting on the uniform and doing their job,” said Lombardo, who did not immediately identify the other officer involved in the shooting.
Thai’s death came during an exceptionally violent week for officers across the country, including in Connecticut, where two officers were fatally shot and a third was wounded late Wednesday while answering an emergency call about possible domestic violence.
Police in North Las Vegas shot and killed a man Monday, after they said he pointed a gun at people while wearing a Halloween mask. Officers in neighboring Henderson were involved in a shooting Wednesday, although no gunshot injuries were reported.
Also, a Henderson police officer was wounded and a suspect was killed in a shooting Sept. 26.
The Las Vegas shooting on Thursday was the 10th this year involving officers covering the city and Clark County, including the casino-lined Strip.
On Sept. 10, Officer Tierney Tomburo, 24, was wounded but returned fire and killed his alleged assailant, 27-year-old Gabriel Charles, during a foot chase after he ran from a traffic stop near the same spot where Thai was fatally wounded . Tomburo has since been released from the hospital.
At that time, Assistant Sheriff John McGrath identified the area — near Flamingo Road and University Center Drive, several blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip — as a hotspot for violent crime.
Thai, 49, joined the Las Vegas police department in 1999, and Lombardo described him as an honorable and commendable officer. The sheriff declined to fully detail Thai’s career until he said Thai’s ex-wife and daughter had time to mourn.
“Thai is the guy everyone wanted to work with,” said Steve Grammas, head of the Las Vegas police union and a former police officer who said he worked with Thai decades ago in the same coverage area.
“He loved police work,” Grammas said. “He could have finished his career in a specialized unit. But he felt his place was on the street.”
Thai was a firearms instructor among “many roles over the years,” the department honor guard said on Twitter.
The department allocated $30,000 to settle a discrimination case Thai filed in 2011 with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming he was subjected to different employment conditions because of his race, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report.
Thai became the first Las Vegas police officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty since October 2017, when Officer Charleston Hartfield was shot and killed by a gunman who opened fire from a high-rise hotel into an open-air concert crowd on the Las Vegas Strip. Hartfield was attending the concert. Fifty-eight people died that night and hundreds were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Two officers, Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck, were killed in June 2014 when they were ambushed as they sat as a pizza shop by a married couple who espoused anti-government views. They also killed a man in a nearby Walmart before dying in a confrontation with police.
This story corrects the name spelling of Officer Igor Soldo in the final paragraph.