Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released the name of the police officer who shot and killed the man suspected of robbing the poker room in the Bellagio on March 15th. The officer’s name is Joaquin Escobar, age 29.
Escobar fired on the suspect in the north valet of the casino, after the suspect shot another officer; the shot officer was not severely wounded because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. The officers had been called to the scene around 10:00 p.m. after a report that a robbery was in progress in the Bellagio’s poker room.
How Did The Shooting Occur?
After the suspect robbed the poker room, he ran to the north valet in an attempt to steal an unoccupied Mercedes as his getaway vehicle. When he couldn’t find the keys, he approached a locked BMW that had a woman still at the wheel. When he couldn’t enter this car, he took out his handgun. At this point is when Metro police confronted him.
The police officers ordered him to the ground, but he refused. Instead, he turned toward them and fired his weapon. The officer with Escobar was hit in the chest, at which point, Escobar fired and hit the suspect in the head.
Suspect Had Previously Robbed Bellagio’s Poker Room
The suspect was brought to UMC hospital, where he passed away. His name was Michael Charles Cohen, age 49, and later it was discovered he was also responsible for the successful 2017 robbery of the poker cage at the Bellagio.
Escobar has been placed on routine paid administrative leave, pending review of the incident.
Assistant Clark County Sheriff, Charles Hank, called Cohen “a brazen criminal that showed no regard for his victims…[and was] willing to use deadly force on a police officer in order to make his escape.” Hank said he did not know how much money Cohen had taken.
Another Officer Involved Shooting After a Robbery
This wasn’t the only shooting to take place in the past week. On March 19th, the officer involved in the March 16th shooting near Fountain Heights Lane and Robindale Road was identified as Officer Darko Milanovic, age 31. He, like Escobar, has been placed on routine leave, pending the outcome of the review of the incident.
What Was the Original Incident?
Around 9:37 p.m. on the 16th, Metro received a call that there was a robbery in progress at a business near the 8000 block of South Eastern. The armed robber had taken a register (yes, the entire register) from the business and ran away before officers arrived on the scene.
At about 10:19 p.m., officers found the suspect and told him to put down his gun, which was in a holster on his hip. At first, it appeared the robber was complying, but then he reached for his gun. At that point, Officer Milanovic fired his weapon and hit the suspect. The suspect was transported to Sunrise Hospital with non-serious injuries but will need the help of a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas to answer to the serious charges against him.
Suspects Facing Hefty Charges After a Shooting at The El Cortez
In another, unrelated incident: three suspects in the El Cortez shooting appeared before a judge on March 18th, where their bail was set at $100,000 each. Each man is facing conspiracy and attempted murder charges in connection with the original crime.
Travis Callahan, 35, Matthew Norris, 34, and Roberto Romero, 30, each face four counts of conspiracy to commit murder and four counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon. However, their defense attorney states that the men acted in self-defense.
The shooting resulted from a dispute between two rival motorcycle gangs, last Sunday at the El Cortez. Four people were wounded during the shooting, which police said took place on the fifth floor of the El Cortez. One of the four people shot was critically injured.