A 93-year-old man allegedly shot an apartment worker over a dispute about water damage, police say

Posted at 4:56 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 16:56:45-05

LAS VEGAS- A 93-year-old man upset about flooding and water damage in his Las Vegas apartment shot an employee at the residential complex, authorities said.

Robert Thomas has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, discharging a firearm within a structure, burglary with a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, according to records from the Clark County Detention Center.

A defense attorney for Thomas said in court on Friday that the incident was likely due to mental issues given his age, according to CNN affiliate KVVU.

Las Vegas police received a call on January 2, 2020, from a woman at the front desk of the Vista Del Valle Apartments saying that an elderly man, later identified as Thomas, had a gun and was making threats inside the office, Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman said at a news conference on Monday.

“It was later determined that Thomas was upset at the management because of water damage and flooding within his apartment,” Zimmerman said. “While on the phone with the caller, the dispatcher was able to hear some of the threats being made by Thomas.”

Surveillance video released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Thomas pull a Glock 9 mm handgun out of his coat while talking to two employees inside office. At one point, he fires a shot randomly in the office, which goes through a partition wall and into a computer screen.

A female employee sitting at the front desk convinced Thomas to let her leave the building, police said. A male employee remains seated in a chair talking to Thomas. About 30 seconds after the female employee leaves, Thomas is shown firing a shot at the male employee.

The employee falls out of their chair to the ground. After another 40 seconds, Thomas is seen firing a second shot at the male employee who is still lying on the ground.

“I didn’t want to hurt the guy, I just wanted to screw him up a little,” Thomas said last week in court.

Thomas held on $25,000 bond

Roughly 15 seconds later, an officer later identified as Ronald Hornyak arrives on the scene and orders Thomas from outside the door of the office to drop his weapon, according to police body camera footage. Hornyak fires a shot through the glass of the front door, which missed Thomas but went through the lapel of his jacket, Zimmerman said.

As Hornyak enters the office, Thomas is seen putting the gun on the desk before he is dragged to the ground and taken into custody.

Thomas was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released into police custody, Zimmerman said. Thomas is currently in jail at the Clark County Detention Center and is being held on a $25,000 bond.

He had an initial court appearance on January 3 and his next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

KVVU reported that a defense attorney argued in court Friday that he be allowed to return home. Thomas was scheduled to appear again in court on Tuesday.

The apartment employee, whom police have not named, sustained two gunshot wounds and was treated at a hospital, police said in a news release. The employee is expected to recover.

Hornyak, a 16-year veteran of the police department, was put on “routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a review of this incident,” police said.