Info released about driver shot by police at Wing Fest event
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office has released more information about the man shot and killed during Wing Fest Sunday. He is identified as 24-year-old Raul Saavedra-Vargas of Morgan Hill, California.
WCSO is leading the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that took place the afternoon of July 2, 2016 in the area of E. Plaza Street and N. Virginia Street in Reno.
Investigators say the incident began after a Reno Police officer saw the minivan going the wrong way on East 2nd Street from Wells Avenue. The officer initiated a traffic stop on the van, but the driver didn't stop.
The driver traveled through downtown Reno and the wrong way on East Commercial Row, a one-way street, according to investigators. As the driver proceeded the wrong way, he hit another vehicle, occupied by two people, near the intersection of East Commercial Row and Center Street.
The driver left the scene of that crash and turned West on Plaza Street toward Virginia Street, which was closed to vehicle traffic and was crowded with pedestrians during the Wing Fest event.
Investigators say as the driver approached Virginia Street, another Reno Police officer who was working in the area fired on the van. The driver, Saavedra-Vargas, turned north onto Virginia Street into the crowd of people, eventually coming to a stop.
Investigators say they are not ready to release information regarding whether Saavedra-Vargas was armed. He was taken to a hospital and declared dead. The official cause of death is still under investigation.
Investigators say no civilians or officers were injured.
In accordance with the Regional Officer-Involved Shooting protocol, a team comprised of the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Sparks Police Department, Reno Police Department, and Washoe County District Attorney's Office is conducting a joint investigation into the shooting.
Three Reno Police officers involved with this incident have been placed on administrative leave.
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call the Washoe County Sheriff's Office at (775) 328-3320 or Secret Witness at (775) 322-4900.
Witness Anthony Spencer confirmed to KOLO 8 News Now the driver had a Reno motorcycle officer behind him when he turned onto Virginia Street and appeared to refuse to pull over for the officer. When the driver reached Virginia Street he tried to turn right, Spencer said.
“He might have scraped some people,” Spencer said of the vehicle. “You could tell his intention was not to floor it through the crowd.”
Police fired several rounds from both sides into the vehicle, Spencer said.
The driver then crashed into the vendor tent and police pulled out the driver and began administering CPR, Spencer said. He did not see the driver move in the 15 minutes he was there.
Stacy Keller was in a booth across the street from where the van crashed. She heard the shots but said she did not see what happened. Like Spencer, Keller said there was panic after the shots were fired. She fell to the ground in her booth to avoid any bullets.
“There were people jumping into our booth to get down on the ground,” Keller said. One man jumped into their booth and lay on top of her. Another woman who went into her booth was bleeding, but she did not know why.
“Everyone was running down the street,” Keller said. “In the booth next to us, a lady got pushed into the fryer She got burned.”