By ALAN SNEL
Nearly two weeks ago, a bicyclist cycling in a memorial bicycle ride outside Las Vegas was struck by a bullet fired by a gun owner who was shooting the wrong way in a popular shooting area on BLM land near mile marker 14 on Las Vegas Boulevard.
It was a non-life threatening wound to the bicyclist’s calf during the 3 Feet for Pete bicycle safety and memorial ride the morning of Sept. 16, said Robin Brown, who was bicycling behind the injured cyclist and who is also a Clark County Fire Rescue captain and 35-year EMT.
Brown heard five to 10 rounds whizzing by southbound bicyclists along the Las Vegas Boulevard route and seconds later heard a bicyclist muttering, “What the heck?”
Brown said he saw blood on the bicyclist’s calf.
“I knew exactly what happened. He got shot,” Brown said.
The cyclist was transported to a local hospital and felt well enough to return to the 3 Feet for Pete bike ride. The event is held every September along the southern stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard to remember Pete Makowski, who was 33 when he was killed by a gravel truck while he was on a training ride in Sloan in June 2013.
An off-duty Metro officer who was volunteering for the 3 Feet for Pete ride went to the site of the shooting and checked out the site at the Bureau of Land Management land along Las Vegas Boulevard. The Nevada Highway Patrol and BLM also investigated the shooting, assisted by Metro. Brown recalled a Metro detective at the scene.
Brown said he learned a family was shooting target practice on the BLM property and spraying bullets toward the west in the direction of the bicyclists who were pedaling along Las Vegas Boulevard. The target practice shooter should have been firing rounds toward the east and a hill. Instead, they were shooting bullets toward Las Vegas Boulevard and I-15.
“They were pointed in the wrong direction,” Brown said.
The 61-year-old cyclist caught a small-caliber bullet in a calf. About 15 to 20 minutes later, the volunteering off-duty officer in a marked car pulled up to the gun range shooters and informed them they had just shot a bicyclist riding about 150 yards beyond their target, Brown said.
Brown recalled the off-duty officer telling the family, “There’s people over there and you just shot one of them.”
Brown said the family turned “ghost white” and their guns were locked in their vehicles.
After this story was posted on Facebook, bicyclist Matt Carter commented, “I was out there and I chatted with the officer who was manning the road closure. The shooter was arrested, he was not authorized to be in possession of a firearm. He was not on a range, he was shooting in a popular shooting area, but definitely not in a range.”
LVSportsBiz.com called Nevada Highway Patrol and BLM today in hopes of finding out more about this shooting incident and the IDs of the shooter and the bicyclist struck in the leg.
Highway Patrol spokesman John Buratczuk said he and his PIO partner are unavailable to get information Friday and that Metro has taken over the investigation.
LVSportsBiz.com also contacted the Metro Public Information Office Wednesday and Thursday and was advised that a public information officer would call. Nobody did.
LVSportsBiz.com will attempt to contact Metro Monday so that the shooter can be identified and determine if any charges against the people firing the bullets were filed.
Cyclist Keely Brooks, president of the Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition, spoke for many bicyclists when she told LVSportsBiz.com, “It’s astounding, and incomprehensible that cyclists must worry about getting shot. Not only were there adults riding right next to the person that was shot but children riders were as well.
“I can only hope that the person that did the shooting is charged with endangering the lives of others and some appropriate punishment invoked.”
We will find out if Metro responds to questions about this shooting incident.
Full disclosure: I have worked in bicycle advocacy for more than a decade and written about bicycle travel and safety issues my adult life. Three years ago, I even participated in the 3 Feet for Pete ride and reported about it.
Six month ago, I was bicycling about 2 1/2 hours north of Miami when a distracted motorist slammed into me from behind and nearly killed me. The motorist did not receive a ticket from the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office for smashing into me as I biked just north of Fort Pierce, Fla.
The high number of bicyclists killed and injured on our roads is a disgrace.
I conducted this interview in 2014 at the 3 Feet for Pete ride.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com