Saturday, April 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Prime suspect named in Las Vegas shooting, crash

LAS VEGAS — A 26-year-old man was being sought Sunday as the prime suspect in a pre-dawn shooting on the Las Vegas Strip last week which led to a fiery crash that left three people dead and several others injured.

Las Vegas police Capt. Chris Jones said Sunday that investigators are working around the clock to sort through evidence and find Ammar Harris following the discovery Saturday of a black SUV used as a getaway car in the shooting and six-vehicle chain-reaction carnage on the neon-lit boulevard near the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally’s and Flamingo resorts.

Jones cited “lots of information coming at us all at once, especially on the Range Rover.” He wasn’t specific.

An aspiring rapper driving a Maserati was shot to death Thursday, and two people in a taxi died in a crash and fireball when the Maserati hit their vehicle.

Harris, who police said was arrested last year on allegations that he was a pimp, was named Saturday as the prime suspect in the triple homicide. Jones said police didn’t know where he was.

Police released a jail photo of Harris taken following his arrest in Las Vegas last year on pandering, kidnapping, sexual assault and coercion charges. The disposition of that case was not immediately known.

Harris sometimes goes by the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris, police said. The photo shows him with tattoos on his right cheek and words on his neck above an image that appeared to depict an owl with blackened eyes. Jones warned that Harris should be considered armed and dangerous.

Police had been searching for the black Range Rover, with blackout windows and distinctive black rims, since it was last seen speeding away from the shooting. It was located at a gated apartment complex a couple of blocks east of the Strip, and was impounded as evidence.

Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., was mortally wounded when the dark gray Maserati he was driving was peppered by gunfire from the SUV. Taxi driver Michael Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, of Maple Valley, Wash., died in the taxi.

Boldon, 62, was a family man who moved from Michigan to Las Vegas. Sutton-Wasmund, 48, was a businesswoman and mother of three.

A passenger in the Maserati was wounded in the arm and four people from four other vehicles were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The Maserati passenger has not been identified, and police said he was cooperating with investigators.

The blink-of-an-eye chain of events had family members and friends in Las Vegas, California, Michigan and Washington mourning the dead this weekend.

“My son was a good boy,” Kenneth Cherry Sr. told reporters in a Saturday news conference convened by Las Vegas lawyers Vicki Greco and Robert Beckett.

Beckett said they wanted to respond to rumors that the 27-year-old son – who produced a rap video using the name Kenny Clutch – was a gangster and a troublemaker. The attorneys had represented his son, an unmarried father of three, and now represent his estate and family.

“My son was a victim just like the two people in that taxi,” Cherry Sr. said. “Trouble found him. The people in the taxicab, trouble found them.”

Court records show Cherry had no criminal cases or convictions in Las Vegas, and police said there was no record of arrests

The Clark County coroner determined that Kenny Cherry died Thursday of at least one gunshot to the chest. The deaths of Cherry, Boldon and Sutton-Wasmund were ruled homicides.

Police say the shooting appeared to stem from an argument at the valet area of the upscale Aria resort-casino about a block south of the crash scene. The shooting happened after a night featuring Morocco-born rapper French Montana at Aria nightclub Haze.

Cherry’s parents live in Emeryville, Calif., and the father said his son’s body would be taken back to Oakland. He said his son started a music career there and was recognized by other rappers within a West Coast hip-hop strain called hyphy.

But Chuck Creekmur, chief executive of AllHipHop.com, said Cherry wasn’t well-known in wider music circles.

Kenny Clutch’s YouTube music video, “Stay Schemin,” shows scenes of Las Vegas Strip hotels as he sings about paying $120,000 for his Maserati.

“One mistake change lives all in one night,” he raps in one verse.

Kenneth Cherry Sr., who said he runs a cellphone business, said he helped his son make payments on the Maserati. He said he last spoke with his son on Wednesday, when they talked about the high cost of the son’s cellphone use.

Cherry Sr. described his son as an entrepreneur but didn’t say how he made money or if he had jobs other than his music production.

Boldon’s family in Las Vegas was struggling to cope with his death, said Tehran Boldon, the taxi driver’s younger brother.

Boldon’s sister, Carolyn Jean Trimble, said Boldon was a father, a grandfather and a car race enthusiast who drove a Mercedes when he wasn’t in a cab. He owned a clothing store in Detroit and worked at a car dealership, his sister said, and drove taxis after moving to Las Vegas about 1¬Ω years ago.

The irony that a man with a taste for beautiful cars was killed by a sports car wasn’t lost on Trimble.

“He would be tickled to death: ‘Damn, of all things, a Maserati hit me, took me out like that,’” she said. “I’m happy he didn’t suffer.”

In Washington, Sutton-Wasmund co-owned a dress shop, said Debbie Tvedt, the office manager for a Maple Valley plumbing company that Sutton-Wasmund started with her husband, James Wasmund. Sutton-Wasmund was in Las Vegas attending a trade show with her business partner.

“It’s a big loss,” Tvedt said in a telephone interview with AP.

The Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce website said Sutton-Wasmund was a board member from 2004 to 2011 before becoming a marketing representative.

A phone message left for James Wasmund was not immediately returned.

The famously glowing, always-open Las Vegas Strip was closed for some 15 hours after the crash. Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Kemmer recalled a similarly long closure after the 1996 drive-by slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur.

That shooting – involving assailants opening fire on Shakur’s luxury sedan from a vehicle on Flamingo Road – happened about a block away from Thursday’s crash.

The Shakur killing has never been solved.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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