The 93-year-old tenant walked into the management office of his apartment complex clad in a black peacoat and matching bowler hat. He brought with him a pressing set of complaints - and something else, too: A Glock 19 9mm handgun.
The man, whom police later identified as Robert Thomas, called on his building managers last week to protest flooding and water damage in his unit at Vista Del Valle Apartments in Las Vegas, southwest of downtown. But minutes after walking into the office, which was still decorated for Christmas, the encounter escalated quickly, according to police reports and frightening footage that captured the faceoff.
The confrontation that followed left one injured and led to Thomas' arrest and jailing on charges including attempted murder, a brief but bizarre attack that could have turned deadly as it unfolded in front of at least three cameras.
In office surveillance video, which was released by police on Monday, Thomas can be seen addressing two employees, one seated behind a desk, the other standing, towering over the 5-foot-9-inch, 130-pound nonagenarian. Thomas then pulls a chair out, seemingly asking the man to sit as he coolly reaches into his coat and draws his weapon.
The man sits, and the woman at the desk stands. Police said she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher at the time and Thomas was hurling verbal threats at the two apartment employees, who have not been publicly identified. Thomas fires his first shot away from the desk, at a half wall in front of a bank of computers, where a third person is sitting.
The bullet shoots through the wall and one of the computer monitors, and the third man hurries from the room. The woman behind the desk leaves the room shortly after, when police say she persuades Thomas to let her walk out, leaving the gunman and the seated man apparently alone.
Video from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police released on January 6 shows 93-year-old tenant shooting a building manager over flooding and water damage.Video: The Washington Post/The Washington Post
For the next 30 seconds, Thomas talks to the man and twice trains the gun on him before firing a shot into his lower body. The man falls from the chair, and Thomas sidles over and stands next to him, looking down for another half a minute before raising his gun again and firing a second shot into the man's leg.
Officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department arrived as Thomas fired the last round, which can be heard on body camera footage.
As they approached the apartment building with weapons drawn, one officer, identified as Ronald Hornyak, shouted at Thomas from outside a glass door, ordering him to drop the gun. Less than a second later, Hornyak fired through the door and entered the office. Police said later that the bullet narrowly missed Thomas, hitting his coat and leaving a bullet hole in his lapel.
Thomas dropped his pistol, and Hornyak pulled him to the ground and put him in handcuffs.
He's now being held without bail as he awaits a court appearance. In addition to the attempted-murder count, Thomas faces charges of kidnap with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm within a structure, burglary with a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.
Authorities said the county public defender's office was representing Thomas and that he had denied interview requests from jail. The public defender did not respond to a request for comment.
The injured man, police said, was treated for his gunshot wounds and released from a hospital.
The Washington Post