LAS VEGAS (AP) — A manhunt has widened to southeastern U.S. states for a 26-year-old ex-convict identified as the prime suspect in a shooting and fiery crash that killed three last week on the Las Vegas Strip, police said Monday.
Ammar Harris used to live in South Carolina and Georgia, he was convicted in Atlanta in 2005 of marijuana possession, and he was arrested in Miami in December on a reckless driving charge, according to public records.
“We have him identified,” Las Vegas police Capt. Chris Jones said. “Now the focus is on locating and apprehending him. We’re getting help all over the place.”
Harris used the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris when he was arrested last May in Las Vegas in a June 2010 case. He was charged with robbery, sexual assault, kidnapping and coercion with a weapon.
Las Vegas police also sought pandering by force and ex-felon in possession of concealed weapon charges stemming from allegations that Harris was a pimp and attacked a woman.
Court records show the case was dismissed last June. The prosecutor and public defender who handled the case didn’t immediately respond to messages left Monday.
Investigators believe Harris was the driver and the gunman who fired shots from a black Range Rover SUV into a Maserati, killing an aspiring rapper and causing a crash and explosion that killed two people when a taxi exploded in a fireball before dawn Thursday at the heart of the Strip.
A SWAT team didn’t find Harris at his home after the SUV was found parked Saturday in the garage of a gated apartment complex a couple of blocks east of the Strip.
The SUV had been sought as the getaway vehicle in the shooting and six-vehicle, chain-reaction crash on Las Vegas Boulevard near the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally’s and Flamingo resorts.
Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. was mortally wounded when the dark gray Maserati he was driving was peppered by gunfire from the SUV. Taxi driver Michael Boldon, 62, of Las Vegas, and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Maple Valley, Wash., died in the taxi.
Police say the triple homicide stemmed from an altercation between Cherry and Harris in a valet area of the upscale Aria resort a block south of the crash scene at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.
A passenger in the Maserati was wounded in the arm, and four people from four other vehicles were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the crash.
Police released a photo of Harris taken after last year’s arrest in Las Vegas in the prostitution case. It showed Harris with tattoos on his right cheek and words on his neck above an image that appeared to depict an owl with blackened eyes. Jones said Harris should be considered armed and dangerous.
Las Vegas police sought help during last week’s search for the Range Rover from local and federal authorities in Nevada and neighboring states of Arizona, California and Utah.