Road rage? Mistaken identity? Questions raised in Vegas case
LAS VEGAS (AP) - It initially sounded like horrific fatal road rage: A Las Vegas mother of four who just finished giving her 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson followed by a driver they encountered on their way home, shot to death in front of their house.
But a police report released Friday gave a more detailed account of the late Feb. 12 incident, and raised new questions about whether the slaying of 44-year-old Tammy Meyers was truly a case of road rage or a neighborhood dispute that spiraled out of control.
The suspected gunman turned out to be a 19-year-old, who lived less than a block away and attended a nearby high school with two of Tammy Meyers' sons in 2011-2012.
Meyers' husband, Robert Meyers, said his wife even tried to counsel Erich Milton Nowsch Jr. after his father committed suicide five years ago.
Nowsch wasn't driving, and didn't tell his friends he was angry about a traffic encounter. He said he thought someone was after him, according to the police report.
It wasn't immediately clear how authorities came to suspect Nowsch in the shooting, but the police report said he was questioned Tuesday, five days after the shooting and three days after Tammy Meyers was taken off life support.
Nowsch was being held at the time in juvenile custody on unspecified unrelated charges.
Police said Nowsch told his friends after the shooting that he was a passenger in a silver Audi and saw a gun waved at him from a green car in a middle school parking lot and thought the occupants were after him.
Police said Meyers had taken her daughter, Kristal, to the school parking lot to practice driving the family's green 1993 Buick Park Avenue sedan. After Kristal tried her skills on some nearby residential streets, Tammy Meyers hopped back into the driver's seat at about 10:50 p.m. to drive home.
That's when a silver car sped up behind them and then pulled alongside, according to the police report.
Kristal told authorities she reached over to honk the car horn as her mother kept driving.
The silver car cut in front of them, but Tammy Meyers turned down another street, according to police. The silver car popped up again, passing in a bike lane next to the curb and spinning out sideways in front of them, forcing the Buick to stop, according to the report.
Kristal Meyers told police later that a 6-foot-tall man got out and warned: "I'm gonna come back for you and your daughter."
Nowsch is about 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds.
Kristal said her mother hit the gas, sped around the silver car, and headed home.
The daughter told police she thought she spotted the silver car again before they reached home, where her mother told her to run in and get her 22-year-old brother, Brandon.
Brandon Meyers told police he grabbed his Beretta 9mm handgun, but told his mother she should call 911. He said he got in the car when she told him to come with her or she was going alone.
Tammy Meyers then drove to where the silver car had blocked their Buick to show her son, then began heading toward home when they spotted a silver car that sped off, according to the report.
They followed for several blocks, passing the middle school again, before the silver car stopped diagonally in the road and Brandon Meyers told police someone on the passenger side starting shooting.
Tammy Meyers backed up and sped toward their home, Brandon Meyers told police. As they pulled up, Brandon Meyers said he saw headlights approaching their cul-de-sac. The silver car turned onto their street.
As the silver car approached, Brandon Meyers told police a person leaned out the passenger window and opened fire.
Brandon Meyers fired three shots shot back, police said. The silver car backed out of the cul-de-sac and disappeared.
Brandon Meyers found his mother lying on the ground, bleeding from the head, and called 911.
The police report doesn't name the driver of the silver Audi. But authorities have said they are looking for another suspect.
Two friends said that Nowsch came to their apartment about 3:30 a.m. and told them that he had been involved in a shooting - unloading several shot at one location, and 22 shots in a second fusillade, according to the police report.
Police reported finding six .45-caliber bullet casings at the first shooting location, and eight in the cul-de-sac near the Meyers home. They also reported finding three 9mm casings in the cul-de-sac.
Nowsch told his friends he thought the people in the car in the school parking lot were looking at him, and said he called a friend with the silver Audi to come and pick him up, according to the report.
Nowsch displayed a handgun and .45-caliber ammunition to his friends and said he started shooting because he thought he saw a gun being pointed at him from the green car, according to the report.
"Got those kids," he told his friends, according to the report. "They were after me, and I got them."
Nowsch remained jailed Friday pending an initial court appearance Monday on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and firing a gun from a vehicle. It wasn't clear if he had a lawyer.
Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press writers Brian Skoloff and Alina Hartounian in Phoenix and researchers Barbara Sambriski and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.