Vegas strip shooting, crash SUV found; man sought

KEN RITTER Associated Press Published:

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A black SUV was found Saturday in Las Vegas, where police named a 26-year-old man as the suspect in a shooting and fiery crash that killed an aspiring rapper in a Maserati and two people in a taxi, and injured at least five other people at the heart of the Strip.

Police said Ammar Harris was being sought in connection with the deadly shooting and six-vehicle chain-reaction carnage before dawn Thursday on the neon-lit boulevard near the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally's and Flamingo resorts.

"His location is unknown," police Capt. Chris Jones said of Harris, who sometimes goes by the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris. Police say he has been arrested for working as a pimp.

Police also released a photo that Jones said was taken when Harris was arrested last year on pandering, kidnapping, sexual assault and coercion charges. The disposition of that case was not immediately known.

The photo shows Harris with tattoos on his right cheek and words in script on his neck above an image appearing to depict an owl with blackened eyes. Jones warned that Harris should be considered armed and dangerous.

The Range Rover with blackout windows and distinctive black rims was located at an apartment complex just a couple of blocks east of the Strip. Jones said it was impounded as evidence and towed away.

The shooting killed aspiring rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., who was driving a dark gray Maserati that was peppered by gunfire from the SUV.

Taxi driver Michael Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, of Maple Valley, Wash., died when the Maserati hit their taxi, which exploded in flames.

Boldon, 62, was a family man who moved from Michigan to Las Vegas. Sutton-Wasmund, 48, was a businesswoman and mother of three.

A passenger in the Maserati was wounded in the arm and four people from four other vehicles were treated for injuries that police said weren't life-threatening. The Maserati passenger was released from a hospital, and police said he was cooperating with investigators. His name hasn't been made public.

The shocking chain of events had family members and friends in Las Vegas, California, Michigan and Washington trying to grasp the blink-of-an-eye finality of it all.

"My son was a good boy," Kenneth Cherry Sr. told reporters Saturday in a news conference convened by Las Vegas lawyers Vicki Greco and Robert Beckett.

Beckett said they wanted to respond to rumors that the 27-year-old son -- who produced a rap video using the name Kenny Clutch -- was a gangster and a troublemaker. The attorneys had represented his son, and now represent his estate and the family.

"My son was a victim just like the two people in that taxi," Kenneth Cherry Sr. said. "Trouble found him. The people in the taxicab, trouble found them."

Court records show Cherry had no criminal cases or convictions in Las Vegas, and police said there was no record of arrests.

The Clark County coroner determined that Kenny Cherry died of at least one gunshot to the chest. Boldon and Sutton-Wasmund died of injuries in the crash. All three deaths were ruled homicides.

Police say the shooting appeared to stem from an argument at the valet area of the upscale Aria resort-casino about a block south of the crash scene. They haven't shared details. The shooting happened after a night featuring Morocco-born rapper French Montana at Aria's signature nightclub, Haze.

Police obtained traffic and surveillance videos and enlisted help from federal authorities and agencies in neighboring states to look for the Range Rover.

Cherry's parents live in Emeryville, Calif., and the father said his son's body would be taken back to Oakland, where memorial services were incomplete.

He said his son started a music career in Oakland after attending two Catholic high schools. According to his father, Cherry was recognized by other rappers within a West Coast hip-hop strain called hyphy.

Cherry wasn't well-known in wider music circles, according to Chuck Creekmur, CEO of AllHipHop.com.

Kenny Clutch's YouTube music video, "Stay Schemin," shows scenes of hotels along the Strip as he sings about paying $120,000 for his Maserati.

"One mistake change lives all in one night," he raps in one verse.

Kenneth Cherry Sr., who said he runs a cellphone business, said he helped his son make payments on the Maserati and last spoke with him on Wednesday. They talked about the high cost of the son's cellphone use.

Cherry Sr. described his son as an entrepreneur but didn't say how he made money or if he had jobs other than his music production. He declined to say more when pressed by reporters.

Boldon's family in Las Vegas struggled to cope with his death, said Tehran Boldon, the taxi driver's younger brother.

Boldon's sister, Carolyn Jean Trimble, said Boldon was a father, a grandfather and a car enthusiast who watched IndyCar and NASCAR races and drove a Mercedes when he wasn't in a cab. He was one of five children born and raised in Michigan, where he took care of his ailing father before moving to Las Vegas to be with his 93-year-old mother.

Bolden had owned a clothing store in Detroit and worked at a car dealership, his sister said. He began driving taxis after moving to Las Vegas about 1 1/2 years ago.

The irony that a man with a taste for beautiful cars was killed by a sports car wasn't lost on Trimble.

"He would be tickled to death: 'Damn, of all things, a Maserati hit me, took me out like that,'" she said. "I'm happy he didn't suffer."

In Washington, Sutton-Wasmund co-owned a dress shop, said Debbie Tvedt, the office manager for a Maple Valley plumbing company that Sutton-Wasmund started with her husband, James Wasmund. Sutton-Wasmund had been in Las Vegas attending a trade show with her partner in the shop.

"It's a big loss," Tvedt said tearfully in a telephone interview with AP.

The Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce website said Sutton-Wasmund was a board member from 2004 to 2011 before becoming a marketing representative.

"Sandi was a loving wife, mother, daughter and sister," said a statement provided to KING-TV in Seattle on behalf of Sutton-Wasmund's family. "Her innocent and tragic loss will be felt by all of those who knew and loved her and by the community at large."

A phone message left for James Wasmund was not immediately returned.

The famously glowing, always-open Las Vegas Strip was closed for some 15 hours after the crash. Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Kemmer recalled a similarly long closure after the 1996 drive-by slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur.

That shooting -- involving assailants opening fire on Shakur's luxury sedan from a vehicle on Flamingo Road -- happened about a block away from Thursday's crash.

The Shakur killing has never been solved.

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Associated Press writers Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, Garance Burke in San Francisco, Kathy McCarthy in Seattle and AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu in New York contributed to this report.