Circus Circus Alleged Police Shooter Held Without Bail as Cop Clings to Life

Posted on: June 3, 2020, 01:10h. 

Last updated on: June 4, 2020, 04:01h.

Edgar Samaniego, accused of shooting a Las Vegas police officer outside of Circus Circus Hotel & Casino Monday night and leaving the officer in critical condition, was ordered held without bail Wednesday during a court appearance.

alleged police shooter Las Vegas
Edgar Samaniego faces three charges for allegedly shooting a Las Vegas police officer outside of Circus Circus on Monday night. (Image: Las Vegas Metropolitan PD)

The officer, Shay Mikalonis, 29, remains in critical condition Wednesday at University Medical Center. Police officers and government leaders have asked the public to pray for his survival.

Surgeons were able to remove a bullet from his body, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His blood pressure was improving.

The officer was attempting to take a protester into custody when a third person, who police claim is Samaniego, age 20, allegedly fired a shot that struck the officer, who then fell to the ground.

On Wednesday morning, Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure, who presided at the Las Vegas Justice Court appearance, found “probable cause” to continue the case involving the wounded officer.

Doctors indicated his injuries are critical and could not give a prognosis for his chances of recovery,” Bonaventure said. “He is still in grave condition.”

“This is about as serious of a charge that you can get,” Bonaventure said. He detailed how the bullet struck the officer in the face. The bullet then traveled through his spine and lodged in his body.

“We don’t know how it’s going to go,” Bonaventure added. “We pray it’s going to go in the fashion that he is going to survive.”

Video Shown to Court

At one point, a prosecutor played a video of crime scene events at the Strip for Bonaventure. It is not clear if it was taken from surveillance cameras or was taken by someone at the scene.

In the video, according to the prosecutor, Samaniego was seen walking away from Las Vegas Boulevard. He turns his left shoulder and grabs something from his right waistband.

He then “makes a motion of shooting” and walks back, the prosecutor claimed. One cartridge case was found near the shooting.

Two more were found at the balcony of a motel, identified in court as the Travelodge, located near Circus Circus. The trio of cartridges matched the gun that was found hidden under a mattress in the room apparently used by Samaniego, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor added the defendant was also identified by witnesses. They were not named in court proceedings.

Before ordering Samaniego held without bail, Bonaventure noted the defendant had no criminal convictions, had many relatives present in the courtroom, and noted his age.

“The court’s concern is the potential danger to the community, the serious nature of the charges, the potential penalty here,” Bonaventure said. “The allegation here is incredibly serious. The potential penalty, if convicted, would be substantial.

The grave condition of the … victim, this could very well become a murder case,” Bonaventure warned. “The court’s concern here is danger to the community, danger to law enforcement.”

At one point, Samaniego, wearing a blue surgical mask while in court, confirmed his identity to Bonaventure. Otherwise, he remained quiet during the appearance. He looked up at Bonaventure when he spoke.

Samaniego is charged with a single count of attempted murder with deadly use of a weapon, and two counts of discharge of a firearm where a person may be endangered.

If convicted, Samaniego could possibly face up to 20 years in prison. If the officer dies, Samaniego could face the death penalty or a life sentence.

Earlier, Samaniego was charged in a separate case with possession of a dangerous drug and driving under the influence. He was released on bond in that pending case.

The prosecutor asked Bonaventure to revoke the bond in the earlier case. The prosecutor further asked that Samaniego be held on a $1 million bail for the shooting of the officer.

But Bonaventure explained he did not participate in the earlier case, so he was not going to decide about the bond in that case. That was up to the judge involved in the case, he said.

Bonaventure also noted how he had the authority to order Samaniego held without bail.

“That’s the order of the court today…. The defendant, Mr. Samaniego, is ordered detained without bail,” Bonaventure said.

He also continued the case until Friday.

Prosecutor, Public Defender Make Arguments in Court

In making his arguments, the prosecutor, identified by local media as Chief Deputy District Attorney Giancarlo Pesci, said Samaniego “shot an officer directly in the face, who may die…. If he were to get out, something like this could happen again.”

The defendant is a “danger” both to officers and to “all individuals out there peacefully protesting,” the prosecutor warned.

Thousands of people have taken part in recent Las Vegas protests, sometimes violent, in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He died after a Minneapolis officer placed a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes while three other officers failed to intervene.

An attorney from the Las Vegas public defender’s office, identified by local media as Scott Coffee, countered that bail for Samaniego be set at $100,000.

He pointed out his client had no convictions, and noted how Samaniego had ties to many relatives, suggesting he would return to court if released on bond. Samaniego was also born and raised locally.

“We think $100,000 is sufficient to ensure the safety of the community,” the defense attorney added.

Black Lives Matter-organized protests have continued nightly in Las Vegas since last Thursday. Hundreds of protesters were arrested, and many police officers were injured. Most protesters were peaceful.