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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Robert Thomas: Very Old, and Very Dangerous

     On January 2, 2020, at ten after nine in the morning, a female employee at the Vista Del Valle apartment complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, called 911 about a man in the office with a gun. The caller reported that a 93-year-old resident of the complex was making threats and arguing with the maintenance manager over water damage in his apartment. The dispatcher could hear the man, Robert Thomas, yelling threats. Mr. Thomas, in possession of a Glock 9 mm pistol, would not calm down.

     After Mr. Thomas fired a random shot that knocked out a computer screen, the woman who had called 911 convinced him to let her leave the office. Shortly after she walked out of the building, Robert Thomas shot the maintenance manager, causing the victim to fall out of his chair. As the manager lay on the floor, Mr. Thomas shot him again.

     The first Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer to arrive at the scene, Ronald Hornyak, a 16-year veteran of the force, saw the old man with the gun through the glass entrance. Officer Hornyak ordered Mr. Thomas to drop his weapon and walk out of the building. When the suspect didn't respond, Officer Hornyak fired a shot through the glass door. The bullet didn't hit the old man's body but pierced his coat lapel.

     Mr. Thomas, after being shot at by the officer, placed his gun on the desk and backed away. Officer Hornyak entered the office and dragged the suspect out of the building.

     The maintenance manager was rushed to a local hospital where he was expected to recover from his gunshot wounds. Robert Thomas, after being treated at a medical facility for a minor injury received in his encounter with the police officer, was treated and released back into police custody.

     Officers booked Robert Thomas into the Clark County Detention center on charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, discharging a firearm within a structure, burglary with a firearm, and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. At his arraignment, the magistrate set the suspect's bail at $25,000.

     On January 7, 2020, Robert Thomas, confined to a wheelchair and wearing earphones so he could hear the judge, was back in court. The defendant was informed that if he posted 15 percent of his $25,000 bail and agreed to house arrest and an electronic monitoring device, he would be released from the Clark Country Detention Center.

     Officer Ronald Hornyak, pending the results of an inquiry into the police-involved shooting, was placed on paid administrative leave.

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