RENO, Nev. – Festival goers in downtown Reno thought they were hearing fireworks when police opened fire and killed a man in a minivan that crashed into a vendor’s tent at a downtown chicken wing cook-off.
The Washoe County sheriff’s office took over the investigation Monday of the officer-involved shooting that killed one man and temporarily shut down the Biggest Little City Wing Fest on the crowded casino drag Sunday afternoon.
Sheriff’s spokesman Bob Harmon said the driver of the silver minivan had fled a traffic stop. He was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital.
Harmon said investigators expect to interview more than a dozen witnesses. He said they’re lucky no bystanders were hurt when the minivan went barreling around a barricade and into the tent shortly after 1:30 p.m.
“When you see the crowds that are there at Wing Fest, it’s very comforting for me to say that no civilians were hurt in this incident,” Harmon told reporters. He said the dead man’s name wasn’t likely to be released until Tuesday.
The three-day festival continuing Monday typically draws about 80,000 visitors.
Brett Rose, 63, of Sparks, said he was shopping at a nearby pawn shop when the van came around a corner pursued by two police officers on foot who fired their guns into the passenger side window.
“At first you just think it’s firecrackers for the Fourth of July weekend,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “But when you see everybody running, the van and the cops firing into it, it’s pretty scary.”
“I’m surprised nobody on the other side of the van was shot because they were shooting through the windows,” Rose said.