A minivan driver was shot dead by police after driving into the Biggest Little City Wing Fest, a street festival in downtown Reno, Nevada, on Saturday, police say.
Raul Saavedra-Vargas was identified as the man killed by Reno Police in a Tuesday press release from the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the incident.
Saavedra-Vargas drove down a pedestrian-filled street that had been closed for the chicken wing fest, an annual event sponsored by the Silver Legacy Resort Casino that began Saturday and ended Monday.
More than 80,000 people were expected to attend the Wing Fest, which included concerts, contests and wing booths, according to the event’s website.
No one else was seriously injured in the incident. The van crashed into a vendor’s booth after Saavedra-Vargas was shot, police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Tried to Drive at a Reno Police Officer Before He Was Shot, Investigators Say
Raul Saavedra-Vargas was driving a silver minivan on Kuenzli Street and East 2nd Street about 1:30 p.m. Saturday when Reno Police tried to pull him over, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
Saavedra-Vargas refused to stop and drove toward Virginia Street from East Plaza Street, the sheriff’s office said. Virginia Street was closed to vehicle traffic and “crowded with pedestrians” attending the Biggest Little City Wingfest at the time, the sheriff’s office said.
The minivan drove through a metal barricade onto Virginia Street. A Reno Police Officer, who was in the area on foot, fired at the vehicle. Saavedra-Vargas was shot and crashed the van into a vendor’s booth.
Police began CPR on Saavedra-Vargas at the scene and he was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
2. A Witness Says It Did Not Seem Like the Driver Was Trying to ‘Floor It’ Through the Crowd
A witness, Anthony Spencer, told KOLO-TV that the driver had a motorcycle officer behind him as he turned toward the Wing Fest, and appeared to be refusing to pull over for the officer.
“You could tell his intention was not to floor it through the crowd,” Spencer told the news station.
Police have not released a motive, but said Saavedra-Vargas was fleeing from a traffic stop. It is not known why police tried to stop him.
3. The Shooting Caused a Chaotic Situation at the Wing Fest as the Crowd of Attendees & Exhibitors Ducked for Cover
Witnesses said the shooting caused a chaotic situation at the crowded Wing Fest on Saturday, as the crowd of attendees and exhibitors ducked for cover.
“There were people jumping into our booth to get down on the ground,” Stacy Keller, who was in a booth across from where the van crashed, told KOLO-TV. She said one man jumped into their booth and laid on top of her. Another woman entered the booth and was bleeding, she said.
“Everyone was running down the street,” Keller said. “In the booth next to us, a lady got pushed into the fryer She got burned.”
Another witness, Brett Rose, said he wasn’t too concerned because he knew police had the situation under control.
“At first you just think it’s firecrackers for the Fourth of July weekend, but when you see everybody running, the van and the cops firing into it, it’s pretty scary,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I’m surprised nobody on the other side of the van was shot because they were shooting through the windows.”
Police said they are considering larger barricades for similar street festivals, KRNV-TV reports.
“Looking at the bigger picture, you have several thousand people down here that could have been potentially killed or injured,” Reno Police spokesman Tim Broadway told the news station. “It was a very lucky occurrence. We have very highly trained professional officers that responded accordingly. They saw the threat to the community and were trained to protect the community and that’s exactly what they did.”
4. Police Have Released Few Details About Saavedra-Vargas & Say the Investigation Is Ongoing
Police have released little information about Saavedra-Vargas, including his age and hometown.
Saavedra-Vargas’ van had California license plates, but it is not known if he is from California.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation is still ongoing.
“Additional details will become available as the investigation continues,” the sheriff’s office said. “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.”
5. The Officer Involved in the Shooting Has Not Been Identified
The officer involved in the shooting has not been identified. It is not clear if the officer has been put on leave during the investigation.
The Reno Police Department will not be leading the investigation.
“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,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release.