Police: High-powered handgun used in Vegas officer killing

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man accused of killing a veteran Las Vegas patrol officer fired 18 shots with a high-powered handgun that an official described as an “AK-47 pistol,” including one that penetrated the officer’s ballistic vest and one that wounded the man’s mother-in-law in the leg, a top police official said Monday.

“You know, this is a tough punch for our police department to take,” Assistant Clark County Sheriff Andrew Walsh told reporters, becoming emotional as he provided additional details of the Oct. 13 shooting that fatally wounded Officer Truong Thai. “He’s one of those guys that touched everybody.”

The alleged shooter, Tyson Shawn Jordan Hampton, 24, of Las Vegas, used a Century Arms RAS47 pistol, firing 7.62-caliber ammunition including the one that fatally struck Thai in the side and one that wounded Hampton’s wife’s mother in the leg, Walsh said.

Clips of body-worn camera video showed Thai fired five shots and Police Officer Ryan Gillihan fired seven times as Hampton reached out the driver’s window of a blue sedan back at the scene of a 1 a.m. street side domestic argument that had prompted Hampton’s wife and her mother to each call 911.

Hampton was arrested a short time later a few blocks away after police vehicles surrounded the blue sedan and a police dog jumped on him to bring him to the ground outside the car.

Walsh said police recovered the alleged murder weapon and a .40-caliber handgun in the car that was not used in the shooting. The AK-47 rifle is a war weapon developed in the former Soviet Union by Russian small-arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Hampton was treated for minor injuries and remains jailed pending a Tuesday court hearing at which he is expected have an attorney appointed to his defense on murder of a protected person, attempted murder and other charges and a misdemeanor domestic violence count.

Authorities had earlier described the women who summoned police to the dispute near a busy crossroads east of the Las Vegas Strip as Hampton’s girlfriend and her mother. A police SUV and the mother-in-law’s vehicle were also struck by bullets, and Walsh said Monday it was clear the bullet that wounded the woman was from Hampton’s weapon.

Gillihan, 32, a police officer since 2017, is on paid leave pending district attorney and departmental reviews of the shooting.

A funeral with full line-of-duty honors is scheduled Oct. 28 for Thai, 49, who served as a patrol and training officer, financial crimes investigator and firearms instructor during 23 years as a Las Vegas police officer. The divorced father of a 19-year-old woman also was an avid volleyball player and coach.

Records show that Hampton pleaded no contest in April 2021 in Las Vegas to a misdemeanor charge of displaying a weapon in a threatening manner during a domestic argument and complied with court orders including the surrender of a 9mm handgun.

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