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Felon killed in shooting

by Sheila Gardner

A 37-year-old man with a lengthy criminal record in Kansas was shot and killed by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Friday morning after the suspect tried twice to ram officers with his vehicle.

The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 a.m. in the residential neighborhood of the Gardnerville Ranchos, less than half a mile from a day care center.

Authorities identified the dead man as Brian Speaker, who was living in the Ranchos. Preliminary investigation into his Kansas criminal history includes convictions for burglary, narcotic violations, battery, theft and resisting arrest, according to Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini.

The trooper, who fired three rounds into Speaker, will not be identified until 48 hours following the incident, said Col. Mike Hood, head of the NHP.

The trooper fractured his ankle, but managed to shoot Speaker even though he was pinned between his patrol car and Speaker’s vehicle.

“The officer was very fortunate to get off a round,” Hood said. “He was sandwiched, literally pinned between the two vehicles.”

Hood said the trooper also injured his back.

Pierini said Speaker’s vehicle had not been thoroughly examined before it was taken to the Washoe County crime lab for forensic testing and scene reconstruction and he didn’t know if the suspect was armed.

Speaker was the focus of an investigation by Nevada Division of Investigation which began when NHP officers tried to arrest him on Feb. 6 for driving a vehicle which had been stolen in Kansas six months ago. Officers pursued him down Kingsbury Grade. He left the vehicle near Walley’s Hot Springs and fled on foot.

“On Friday, it was the intention of the officers surveilling the suspect to follow him to where he was going and then effect an arrest on the warrant,” Pierini said. “This was done for the safety of both the residents living near the suspect and the officers.”

According to Hood, investigators followed Speaker to Scolari’s parking lot early Friday in Gardnerville to arrest him. He fled the area in his vehicle, attempting to strike the NDI officer.

Authorities followed Speaker southbound on Highway 395 at speeds originally estimated at 100 miles per hour. Authorities said later Friday the speed was not confirmed and probably was much lower.

Speaker turned on Dresslerville and his truck stopped in a yard at the Wagon Wheel intersection where there was impact with the front of the NHP vehicle and the rear of the suspect vehicle. The suspect continued to try to strike the officer’s vehicle.

Speaker’s body was taken to Reno. An autopsy will be conducted today.

Pierini said the officer who shot the suspect is a six-year veteran of the highway patrol.

Chris Olesen, who lives near the scene of the shooting, said she heard sirens and what she believed were gunshots shortly after 7 a.m.

“I looked out the window to see if it was fire or police and there were four or five cars following one another past my house,” Olesen said. “I heard a loud noise with kind of an echo. I didn’t know what it was, I thought maybe my father had dropped a log on the fireplace. At first, I thought it was an accident. We have a lot of accidents on that corner. People take it too fast.”

Olesen and other morning commuters were rerouted through the neighborhood away from the scene.

Linda Naucke, a senior teacher at the Sunshine and Rainbows Day Care Center which is half a mile from the site, said children were just arriving as the chase and shooting unfolded.

“We were all gathered together for morning sharing time when I saw at least five Douglas County cars in pursuit,” said Naucke, a teacher at the day care center since it opened in 1980. “At the same time, some parents came in and said they had just heard gunshots. Another parent came in who was very shaken, then the phone started ringing.”

Naucke said the caller was a parent who lives in Carson City and was listening to the police scanner and heard that the incident occurred near the day care center which is licensed for 83 children.

“A lot of the parents thought it was a wreck,” she said.

Naucke said she wanted to be truthful with the children who had overheard their parents talking about the shooting.

“I knew I had to be honest with the children and speak to them in their language,” she said. “I told the kids there was a bad guy and that our police were on their way to get the bad guy. That settled them down.

“It was kind of ironic. We just finished singing our morning song, ‘This Is The Day the Lord Has Made.’ I told the children that God protects Sunshine and Rainbows. I reminded the children that we’ve been through earthquakes, floods and blizzards. We even had two fugitives on the loose a couple of years ago, and God has always protected us.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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