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Vegas shooting suspect arrested in Los Angeles

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(AP photo)
LAPD Sgt. Anthony Verret (left) and FBI agent Scott Garriola (right) wait to enter the apartment building n the Studio City area of Los Angeles where LAPD and an FBI task force arrested 26-year-old Ammar Harris, who is accused in the Feb. 21 deaths of three people on the Las Vegas strip.

LAS VEGAS – A self-described pimp was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, ending a weeklong manhunt that began after a shooting and spectacular, fiery crash that killed three people on the Las Vegas Strip, police said.

Ammar Harris, 26, surrendered to a fugitive apprehension team of police and FBI agents who found him a little after noon inside a Studio City apartment where a woman answered the door, authorities said.

"This arrest is much more (than) taking Ammar Harris into custody," Clark County Sheriff Douglas Gillespie said in Las Vegas. "I hope anyone out there watching understands clearly if you live in this city, if you work in this city, or you visit this city and act like this person, we will find you, we will prosecute you, and we will send you to prison."

Harris, whose Internet posts show him with fists full of money boasting of a high-rolling lifestyle with prostitutes, was booked into a Los Angeles jail pending an extradition hearing Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

His arrest ended an intense multi-state search that began after the Feb. 21 attack at a neon-lit intersection home to posh casino resorts such as Bellagio, Bally's, Flamingo and Caesars Palace.

Court documents allege Harris was driving his black Range Rover SUV when he fired into a Maserati sports car, killing self-promoted rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. The two men had argued minutes earlier in the valet area of a Las Vegas Strip resort, authorities said.

The Maserati, with Cherry mortally wounded at the wheel, sped forward and slammed into a taxi that burst into flames. The 62-year-old cabbie, Michael Boldon, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash., were killed.

In all, six cars were involved in the crash, and five other people were injured. None of those injuries was life-threatening, authorities said.

A passenger in the Maserati, identified in court documents as Freddy Walters, was wounded in the arm. Police said he cooperated with investigators after the crash. Attempts to reach him Thursday were not immediately successful.

The crash closed the Strip for about 15 hours while police investigated. Two days later, police located the SUV parked two blocks east of the crash scene at an apartment complex where Harris rented a unit. Harris wasn't there.

Lt. Ray Steiber, who headed the investigation, said Thursday that investigators learned that Harris fled Las Vegas "pretty rapidly" after the shooting and fiery crash. Detectives fielded "hundreds and hundreds" of tips in the following days.

Investigators reviewed casino surveillance images of a disagreement with Cherry at the valet area at the Aria resort, collected bullet casings and listened to audio recordings from nearby taxis of the sound of five gunshots on the Strip, and obtained traffic camera video of the Maserati speeding through the Las Vegas Boulevard intersection at Flamingo Road.

Prosecutors obtained a warrant the day after the shooting for Harris' arrest on three murder, one attempted murder and several shooting charges. Authorities obtained a federal warrant Monday enabling the FBI to join the search in other states.

Earlier Thursday, Las Vegas police revealed they had found and talked with all three women who were in the SUV with Harris during the shooting — including Tineesha Lashun Howard, a woman police had identified Tuesday as a "person of interest" who might be in danger.

Las Vegas police also sought to stop the circulation of several photos the department issued during their search for Harris. Police said they depicted people not connected with the case.

Police wouldn't release the names of the other female passengers in the SUV. Capt. Chris Jones said none of the three women had been charged with a crime. Police were concerned about their safety, he said.

Howard, a 22-year-old from Miami with a history of prostitution arrests who also uses the names Yenesis Alfonzo or Yani, was found late Wednesday, several hours after boarding a bus in Los Angeles. Police have not identified the city where she was found.

Steiber called the discovery that Howard left Los Angeles "one of the factors" that led investigators to find Harris in Studio City.

Police later searched the Studio City apartment, and Steiber noted that the investigation was not finished.

"We have captured Ammar Harris," the police lieutenant said. "This is an open and ongoing investigation. This is not closed."

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Thursday that anyone who helped Harris elude police for a week could still face criminal charges.

Harris was arrested last year in Las Vegas in a 2010 prostitution case using the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris. He was charged with robbery, sexual assault, kidnapping and coercion with a weapon, and police sought charges of pandering by force and felon in possession of concealed weapon. Court records show that case was dismissed last June.

Harris was convicted in South Carolina in 2004 of felony possession with intent to sell a stolen pistol and convicted that same year in Atlanta of a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

___

Associated Press writer Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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