Suspect leads Las Vegas police on violent car chase, shootout

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A man led police 47 miles around the Las Vegas valley in an hour-long pursuit last Thursday night, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

40-year-old Justin Venegas was under surveillance by investigators as a person of interest in a May armed carjacking of a 73-year-old woman.

On August 11, officers were conducting a follow-up investigation at Venegas’ last known address in the northeast part of the valley, according to LVMPD. Officers watched Venegas enter a vehicle and drive out of the area. The LVMPD air unit was called in to assist in following him as he drove away.

While the air unit was following Venegas, video shows him stealing a white Chevrolet Avalanche at gunpoint near Pecos and Cheyenne. A pursuit later began when police said Venegas would not pull over.

During the pursuit, police said Venegas reached speeds up to 100 miles per hour, and at times drove on the wrong side of the road.

Officers continued to pursue Venegas and the video shows two officers attempting a Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT) near Craig and North 5th Street. When officers moved in Venegas fired into their front windshield. One officer returned fire through the window of the passenger side.

Venegas moved forward and attempted to steal another vehicle near the intersection of Desert Inn and Jones, according to police. The woman driving that car backed away from Venegas who then fired at her vehicle. Assistant Sheriff Andrew Walsh said she was either grazed by a bullet or injured by broken glass but is OK.

The pursuit continued towards a Smith’s parking lot off Desert Inn. Venegas attempted to steal another vehicle at gunpoint but was unsuccessful, according to police. He retreated into the truck as officers were arriving in the parking lot. Venegas then drove towards and away from the officers. Five different officers fired their weapons toward the truck. The truck was hit multiple times but Venegas was able to get away. Walsh said no bystanders or property were hit by stray bullets.

Air unit cameras show Venegas continued driving northbound on Decatur. At Decatur and Faircenter, Venegas rammed into a K9 patrol unit at 67 mph, according to police. The K9 officer suffered a concussion but has been released from the hospital. The patrol dog, Boris, was not injured.

“Bravery is one way to put it,” Walsh said. “[officers] suit up every day and this is what they deal with. You see that video, especially from the ground level, and we’re lucky. The community was very lucky in this incident.”

Venegas is out of the hospital and booked in the Clark County Detention Center. He faces a number of charges including three counts of attempted murder on a protected person.

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