Three people were killed after someone in a Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati on the Las Vegas Strip early this morning, police said.
The brazen attack in the middle of one of America's most-popular tourist destinations set off a chain of reactions that included several subsequent collisions and a cab fire that took the lives of those inside:
Las Vegas Metro Police tell the Weekly they got the first call about the shooting and collisions at 4:20 a.m. The attack happened at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, which is near the Ballagio Hotel and other Strip cornerstones.
It's too early to tell if there's a California connection to the attack (if we were betting we'd put our money on yes), and cops told us the Range Rover from which shots rang out had paper dealer plates.
A photo of the Maserati hit by gunfire appears to show it had no rear plate (although it's possible authorities at the scene took it off for evidence).
Many Angelenos were in Vegas this week for the fashion industry's annual Magic Market Week convention.
Los Angeles police officials tell us they have not to their knowledge received from Vegas authorities a "be-on-the-lookout" bulletin for the Range Rover.
— Jeff scheid (@Jlscheid) February 21, 2013
— WSVN-TV (@wsvn) February 21, 2013
Both the Range Rover Sport and the Maserati GranTourismo coupe were headed northbound on the Strip when someone inside the SUV opened fire, "striking the driver and passenger" of the Italian car, Officer Jose Hernandez told us.
The driver of the Maserati lost control and the car struck a cab, which caught on fire with the driver and sole passenger inside, he said.
The sports car collided with "four other vehicles," Hernandez said: Three people in those cars had to be hospitalized for their injuries.
Three people have been "confirmed deceased," he said: "The cab driver, the cab's passenger and the driver of the Maserati."
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The passenger in the sports car was hospitalized for wounds sustained by gunfire, Hernandez said.
He said the SUV, which had large, custom-type wheels, was occupied by "several" males:
We are currently attempting to locate a black Range Rover Sport described as having large black rims with some type of dealership advertising plates or paper plates. Of course we are considering the suspects armed and dangerous.
Anyone with info on the vehicle or suspects was asked to call Las Vegas Metro Police at 702-828-3111.
[Update at 4:32 p.m.]: The LAPD got a tip that a vehicle matching the description of the SUV allegedly used in the shooting is in the 3800 block of West 59th Street in South L.A., the Weekly has learned.
We were told that cops were headed there to check it out as we speak.
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[Added at 4:35 p.m.]: Vegas police say the shooting was immediately preceded by an verbal altercation at the valet stand at the Aria hotel.
The beef apparently involved parties in both vehicles, police told us.
It wasn't immediately clear if cops had video of the clash, but it would be a safe guess to believe they probably do.
[Update at 4:50 p.m.]: The murdered man behind the wheel of the Maserati was identified by family members as a Las Vegas rapper from Oakland named Kenneth Cherry, a.k.a. Kenny Clutch. Here's a photo of him posing next to a Maserati we found on his Facebook page. He also has a video in which he raps about such a vehicle.
[Warning: NSFW content]:
Told that the LAPD was searching for an SUV that might fit the description of the one used in the shooting, Las Vegas Metro's Bill Castle told us that "law enforcement all across the Western United States are on the lookout for that vehicle."
At an earlier news conference, local Sheriff Douglas C. Gillespie was asked if the attack was gang-related. He said that was not ruled out.
Castle said the Maserati victim had not yet been positively ID'd by the local coroner's office.
[Added at 5:05 p.m.]: One of Kenny Clutch's photos on Facebook shows the rapper showing a Kansas City Chiefs emblem. In gang circles the "KC" has also been interpreted as meaning "Kill Crips."
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In another, he's holding up the KC patch and pointing at the "B" emblem on a Bentley. B also stands for the Bloods gang.
[Added at 5:45 p.m.]: Although officers were still at the scene, LAPD Officer Christopher No tells us that the search in the 3800 block of West 59th for an SUV that might match the description of the one allegedly used in the shooting turned up nothing.