Las Vegas Nevada

Vegas Police ID Slain Laughlin Casino Robber

The Las Vegas Metro Police Department has identified the man who was shot and killed by a Metro SWAT team following the failed robberies of two Laughlin casinos and an hours-long standoff with police. 69-year-old Michael Lopez, of nearby Havasu, Arizona, was shot by two officers after Lopez exited his blockaded vehicle, running toward the SWAT officers while brandishing the gun he’d fired earlier at a casino security guard.

The unusual nature of the crimes and subsequent officer-involved shooting turned into a slow-motion release of details related to the incidents. Lopez attempted to rob two Laughlin casinos within the space of an hour early Monday morning. However, despite Lopez showing a gun in both instances, cashiers at both the Golden Nugget and Aquarius casinos in Laughlin refused to comply.

The Aquarius Casino in Laughlin

The Aquarius Casino in Laughlin

While fleeing the Aquarius, Lopez fired once at a pursuing security guard but fortunately missed. Upon reaching his pickup truck in the casino’s parking area, however, Lopez was quickly surrounded by officers that were already in the vicinity, having responded to the earlier failed robbery at the Golden Nugget. Once Lopez refused to surrender and barricaded himself inside his vehicle, a SWAT team took over the standoff, which lasted over six hours.

The failed robbery and subsequent killing of the armed robber bears some similarity to the shooting of Michael Charles Cohen, who was killed by officers already present at Las Vegas’s Bellagio casino in March while investigating a missing-child report. It was the second robbery attempt of the Bellagio’s poker room by Cohen, who successfully eluded capture in an earlier robbery in 2017.

Yet to be determined by investigators are any motives for the robbery attempts by Lopez, who at 69 falls well outside the normal age range of armed casino robbers.

The Golden Nugget and Aquarius venues are among a cluster of Nevada casino properties in Laughlin, which were designed to market largely to western Arizona residents, especially those in nearby Havasu, Lake Havasu City, and Bullhead City. Laughlin sits near the far southern tip of Nevada, nearly 90 miles from downtown Las Vegas. However, the Las Vegas Metro Police Force maintains jurisdiction over all of Nevada’s southern Clark County, which includes Laughlin while encompassing most of the state’s populace.

A day earlier, the LVMPD identified the two SWAT officers who fired upon Lopez as he rushed from his vehicle in what was likely a “death by cop” finale. Officers Cory Mikkelson, 52, and John Susich, 42, were placed on administrative leave pending review, the normal procedure in such shootings. Both men are long-time members of the LVMPD.

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