Guilty Plea Entered in July Crime Spree

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An 18-year-old man who admitted he shot a security guard after July 4 fireworks in downtown Sparks pleaded guilty Wednesday to seven felony charges in a series of violent crimes.

Braulio Luis Sarti III of Reno was arrested late July 4 and charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of the guard at a city parking garage immediately after the fireworks display at John Ascuaga's Nugget hotel-casino.

He also was charged with false imprisonment for bursting into a room at the nearby Silver Club hotel-casino and holding a couple at gunpoint while attempting to elude police officers.

While being held in the Washoe County Jail on those charges, a detective recognized Sarti as one of the suspects from a bank security photograph who kidnapped a man from his Reno home in June and drove him around to ATMs at gunpoint in an effort to secure cash from the victim's account.

Sarti pleaded guilty in Washoe District Court Wednesday to first-degree kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, armed burglary, false imprisonment with the use of a firearm, third-degree arson and battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm.

He faces up to a life in prison with sentencing set for Oct. 17 before Washoe District Judge James Hardesty.

Deputy District Attorney Roger Whomes said the case began June 22 when Sarti and another as-yet unidentified suspect entered the Reno home of Steve Metzner, 63, while Metzner was sleeping.

One man held a gun to Metzner's head while the other loaded household items into Metzner's 2000 Ford truck, Whomes said.

They then put a snare-type cord or wire around Metzner's neck and forced him to drive to several Wells Fargo ATM locations in an effort to force him to withdraw cash from the machines.

But Metzner was too frightened to recall his ATM PIN number so they were unable to secure any cash. The men tied up Metzner with wire and duct tape and dumped him on the north edge of downtown, Whomes said.

Metzner told police he had been kicked and beaten continually by the suspects and that they had fired the gun several times in his home and truck to frighten him.

The next night, police found Metzner's truck burning in Sparks near Vista Boulevard and Brierly. Firefighters found lighter fluid in the truck and determined the cause to be arson.

Photos from the ATM machine showed Metzner with the device police described as a "ligature" around his neck and one of the two suspects apparently holding a handgun, Whomes said.

On July 5, Reno police officer Alan Fox noted the resemblance between Sarti and one of the suspects in the photos.

Reno detective David Jenkins questioned Sarti at the jail and Sarti admitted to the crimes involving Metzner - first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery, armed burglary and arson.

Sparks police had arrested him July 4 after the shooting of Pawel Pichsinski, 21, a security guard for the Nugget. He was shot in the left jaw and is recovering from the injury.

Witnesses told officers that the suspect pointed a pistol toward a woman in a parking dispute and that the woman's boyfriend then chased the suspect into the crowded parking garage next to a theater complex.

The boyfriend then asked Pichsinski's assistance and Pichsinski was subsequently shot.

Other witnesses then chased the gunman from the garage but lost site of him, police said.

Whomes said Sarti forced his way into the Silver Club room of Anna Bartlett, 65, and Raymond Sharkey, 68, where he forced them to lie on the floor for about an hour.

He took one of the victim's shirts and while changing, his gun went off, firing through his leg above the knee and down into his foot.

The victims did not initially call police because they believed Sarti's story that he was being chased by others. But they saw reports of the crime on local television and contacted police the next day.