Another crazy American story.
Robert Thomas, 93, of Las Vegas was upset that his apartment had flooded causing water damage.
He had lived in Vegas for 30 years, had no criminal history and no family living in town.
He put on his black coat and hat – and tucked his 9mm Glock inside his coat – and went to the leasing office of Vista Del Valle Apartments. It was 9:10 a.m. on Jan. 2.
He told the man and woman at the office he was unhappy. He paid his rent and did not expect to have to contend with flooding and look at water damage in his apartment every day.
To emphasize his point he drew out his gun and brandished it. The woman called police.
Thomas, who stands 5-foot-9, and weighs 130-pounds, shot her computer.
The police were on their way. Thomas allowed the woman to leave the office.
The maintenance worker, a youth compared to Thomas – at age 67 – was seated on a chair with paperwork in his lap. He may have been trying to explain what the problem was but Thomas shot the maintenance worker in the leg, causing him to fall off the chair and on to the floor on his back.
Thomas fired another round into the man’s leg.
Officer Hornyak opened the door and told Thomas to drop the gun. He put the gun on a desk. The officer pulled him to the ground and placed him in handcuffs. Thomas’s head was scratched by the fall.
He and the victim were taken to the hospital where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Thomas was later booked at the Clark County Detention Center, charged with attempted murder with a deadly weapon, kidnapping with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, and burglary with a gun and discharge of a firearm indoors.
Police released a video of the attack.
Thomas appeared in court Tuesday in a wheelchair and needing headphones to hear the judge.
Judge: Do you understand the charges?
Thomas: Who me?
Thomas: Oh yes. Yes, your honor.
Prosecutors told the court that Thomas told police that he would shoot the worker again while being arrested.
Thomas told the court he didn’t want to kill the worker, just mess him up a little.
His public defender told the court that the incident may have happened due to mental illness. Thomas told the court it has been 2-3 years since he saw a doctor.
The judge ordered him held on $25,000 bail pending a Jan. 22 preliminary hearing. Thomas was not asked to enter a plea. He was also ordered to stay away from the apartment complex if released.
Hornyak, a 15-year police veteran, was placed on paid leave -which is routine following a discharge of a firearm – until police and prosecutors finish reviews of the shooting.
This may be mental illness, senility. He is 93 years old apparently living alone in Vegas, with no family. Obviously this is one man who should not have a gun.
So what does society do with Robert Thomas? Does he go to prison? Is he put in a mental institution? A seniors home?
Can he ever be trusted to live in society again? He cannot be permitted to have a gun.
None of many media reports had news of his background. Does he have children, friends or anyone to take note that an extremely old man with a gun went out one day – after 93 years of avoiding arrest – and shot someone?
What did he do when he was younger? Where did he work? Was he ever married? Does he have a history of mental illness? How did he live so long without getting in trouble before?
Is there anyone in his life left at all?
Does society treat him as they would a younger man? There is every possibility he might die any time or descend into senility.
He took deliberate aim and shot a man twice in the leg. He’s got enough charges to put him away for life – and the video evidence to prove it. And life for Robert Thomas is not likely to be long.
Still, it is a strange thing for a man to go so long and at such an advance age become a menace to society. He is now in a prison cell where he belongs. He is likely the oldest prisoner in Clark County and certainly the oldest new prisoner.
What an odd way for a man to write one of, if not the final chapter of his life. He shot a man in the leg at 93 and was sent away to prison most likely to die.
In any event, society pretty much views a man at 93 to be about done with intrepid action. He is on the wane; survival is what preoccupies most nonagenarians. And here’s a man that struck out with brand new endeavor at an age where he is written off by 99 percent of everyone who meets him – because he is old. And there is little time or energy left.
And oddly Robert Thomas, with enough strength to pull a trigger made one last ugly stand.