Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2020

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Metro cops narrowly escape injury in northwest valley shootout

Metro Police Briefing on Aug. 30 Officer-Involved Shooting

Steve Marcus

Metro Police Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman responds to questions during a briefing at Metro Police headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Zimmerman discussed details of an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Aug. 30, 2020. A photo of suspect Nicholas Tano is displayed at right.

Metro Police Briefing on Aug. 30 Officer-Involved Shooting

Metro Police Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman watches body cam video during a briefing at Metro Police headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Zimmerman discussed details of an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Aug. 30, 2020. Launch slideshow »

A gunman described as being suicidal and two Metro Police officers were lucky to escape injury Sunday morning when they exchanged 19 rounds in a shootout at a northwest Las Vegas intersection, Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman said Wednesday. 

The 25-year-old suspect, Nicholas Tano, was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on 11 counts each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, and one count each of resisting an officer with a gun and discharging a gun, Las Vegas Justice Court records show.

He posted a $250,000 bond Wednesday and was ordered released on high-level monitoring, while the court prohibited him from having contact with his ex-girlfriend or guns, logs show.

Tano's former partner summoned the police about 3:10 a.m. to her address on Happy Stream Avenue, near Grand Teton Drive and El Capitan Way, Zimmerman said.

The woman told a dispatcher that Tano had a drinking problem and was standing outside her house, armed. She said he was sending suicidal messages, including photos of him holding a gun, Zimmerman said.  

When Officers Michael Hennessey and Eric Wennerberg showed up, Tano got into his car and drove past them, through the gated community, Zimmerman said.

The officers caught up with Tano and he stopped at the intersection at Grand Teton and El Capitan, Zimmerman.

Immediately, Tano opened his trunk, ignored commands from officers, pulled out a gun and shot at them 11 times within 30 seconds of their interaction, Zimmerman said.

Hennessey returned fire, shooting seven rounds, while Wennerberg fired once, Zimmerman said.

The Metro SUV the officers hid behind was struck five times. Body-camera footage shows one of the bullets ricocheting near a tire, close from where the officers were crouched down. 

The 19 bullets did not strike anyone, and Tano fled on foot. SWAT officers and negotiators were called, and a barefoot Tano turned himself in without further incident hours later after dawn. 

Zimmerman said investigators later found a second gun in Tano's trunk. 

“We are glad this came to a peaceful ending, but we also have to take into effect (that) our officers could have been seriously injured in this incident — luckily they were not,” Zimmerman said. “I would say, everybody was lucky on this.”

Zimmerman said officers’ preparation kicked in as soon as they noticed Tano was shooting. “They reacted exactly how they were trained, and they were able to get down, go low and be able to avoid the gunfire,” he said.

Prior to Sunday, Tano did not have a criminal record, Zimmerman said. 

It wasn’t clear how police got him to surrender, but Zimmerman said negotiators are trained “for all gambits of discussion,” noting that sometimes it only takes the suspect to pick up a “personal liking” to the person talking to them.

Wennerberg’s body-camera malfunctioned and police were further investigating why, Zimmerman said.

In his opening remarks, Zimmerman brought attention to suicide prevention, telling the community about resources, including the National Suicide Prevention hotline, 800-273-8255.