Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pahrump, NV: Two dead in Lakeside shootout


Four bullet holes mark the rear window of the car Sabrina Hepler was driving as she sought shelter at Terrible's Lakeside Casino Monday afternoon.

Thursday night vigil is planned

A candlelight vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Terrible's Lakeside Casino to honor the memory of Dep. Ian Deutch.

Organizer Carl Moore contacted the family who approved the event. "We need to show support for the family and our local law enforcement officers," said Moore.

According to a press release from the sheriff's office, a memorial fund under account number 0258040427 has been established at Nevada State Bank, 1301 S. Highway 160.


Nye County Sheriff's Office personnel and Pahrump residents are mourning the death of Dep. Ian Deutch, 27, killed in the line of duty Monday, after being shot three times in the parking lot of Terrible's Lakeside Casino just before 4 p.m.

The shooter, James L. Chaffin, 30, was killed by an officer who returned fire after the man stepped out of the casino with an assault rifle and opened fire, according to Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall.

"He is not someone who has that much of a record with us," said Sheriff Tony DeMeo. He said the shooter was a suspect in a minor credit card-related case.

At the scene, Capt. Bill Becht said Deutch had returned to Pahrump just one month ago from active duty in Afghanistan. Monday was his second day back on the job.

Deutch was wearing a protective vest, but one bullet penetrated the vest.

He was flown from the scene by Mercy Air helicopter to UMC Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he was immediately taken into emergency surgery. He died a little after 9 p.m.

A motorcade of officers from across Southern Nevada was prepared to escort Deutch's body back to Pahrump Tuesday afternoon.

Marshall said Monday's fatal incident began when deputies were dispatched to answer a 911 call that came in at about 3:45 p.m. from Sabrina Hepler, who said her boyfriend, Griffin, was driving close behind her car, shooting at her as she tried to get away from him.

She told the dispatcher she was driving to the casino to be safe.

Deutch and his partner, as well as other deputies, were dispatched for domestic violence involving weapons.

DeMeo, at UMC with Deutch's family, said Griffin followed the woman into the casino and then exited just as Deutch and his partner were pulling up in their vehicle. The suspect was carrying an SKS semi-automatic rifle, which fires a 7.62mm round.

"The deputies were actually exiting their vehicle, and that's when he opened up on them," said DeMeo. Deutch's partner was not injured.

DeMeo said a third deputy pulled up and witnessed the shooting. He returned fire with four rounds, killing Griffin.

Hepler was not physically injured. However, the rear window of her car had at least four bullet holes through it.

"She was scared and obviously shook up," said Marshall.

Dep. Eric Murphy, who survived after being shot during an extended gunfight at Terrible's Lakeside RV Park on Sept. 19, 2008, was also with the family at the hospital.

Pahrump Valley Fire-Rescue Services were dispatched to the scene, and a witness, who had been pumping gas close to where the shooting occurred, said he saw the emergency medical technicians crying and knew the deputy had been badly hurt.

The sheriff's department does not treat domestic violence calls routinely because, as DeMeo put it, "We don't know what we are going to face when we get a domestic call. It can turn very violent, very quickly."

Deutch had been in the National Guard for nine years when he spoke with the PVT last year.

A husband with two children, he said his family hated his upcoming departure for Afghanistan. "They don't want to see me leave," he said.

Ironically, Deutch had taken some pre-sniper marksmanship training that had him firing on targets up to 670 yards away.

"It definitely helped me out," he said, "like when we do active shooters or a lot of buildings searches."

He said he had spent five years with the sheriff's K-9 unit.

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