Operations

Stolen Limo Leads to Shootout With Police

Posted on October 6, 2004 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

MOJAVE, Calif. – A man accused of stealing a limo in Las Vegas faces charges of attempted murder of a police officer.

Sysaketh Monelilay, 23, of Visalia, Calif., was arrested Sept. 23 when California Highway Patrol officers responded to a report of the stolen limousine. They found it parked by the side of Highway 58 near Mojave.

CHP officers said the 2001 Lincoln limousine was stolen from the Little White Wedding Chapel at 1301 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, earlier that morning while the driver was changing out a CD and left the limo running. They allege Monelilay drove the limo across state lines, where it ran out of gas.

A passer-by returning home from Colorado saw a report on Las Vegas television about the stolen limo and contacted officers when he saw it parked near the road, said Steve Hunsaker, a spokesman for the CHP.

Monelilay was arrested after officers determined that the limo, which had the phone number and logo from the wedding chapel on the side, was the same one reported stolen, Hunsaker said.

After being placed in the patrol car's front seat, Hunsaker said Monelilay writhed out of his handcuffs while officers searched the limo. Troopers allege Monelilay tried to steal the officer's car, and when the officer tried to remove him from the moving vehicle, Monelilay grabbed the officer's gun and began shooting.

No one was shot, but the officer was taken to a nearby hospital for minor injuries, Hunsaker said. Army Sgt. David Pierce, who passed the incident on his way back to nearby Fort Irwin, helped subdue Monelilay, according to police.

Charlotte Richards, proprietor of the wedding chapel, said the unlocked vehicle was stolen while it was parked in front of the chapel waiting for a newlywed couple. The driver, she said, left the car running.

Although she had never had a limo stolen in her 45 years at the chapel, her advice to drivers suddenly proved true. "I tell all my drivers, 'You should never leave the key in the ignition.' "

Richards said the driver was not injured, but he left his cell phone and wallet in the front seat.

Monelilay remained in a San Bernardino, Calif., on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer.

The $60,000 limo remained at a CHP impound lot, Hunsaker said.

The incident closed down traffic on that stretch of highway for more than five hours, according to the CHP.

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