Two Nevada state troopers were struck and killed by a vehicle while helping another driver on a Las Vegas freeway early Thursday morning, authorities said. A suspect was taken into custody hours after the crash, Las Vegas police said during an afternoon news conference.
The two troopers found a motorist who appeared to be sleeping behind the wheel on the side of Interstate 15 at around 3:23 a.m., Las Vegas Deputy Police Chief Branden Clarkson told reporters. When the troopers were trying to interact with the motorist, they were hit by another vehicle, which fled the scene.
The state police on Thursday identified the officers as Sgt. Michael Abbate, who joined the agency in December 2013 and was recently promoted to sergeant, and Trooper Alberto Felix, who joined in 2019 after serving in the U.S. Air Force.
Clarkson said one of the troopers died at the scene and the other died at a hospital.
Police found the vehicle that struck the troopers at an apartment complex at around 8 a.m., Clarkson said. It wasn't occupied, but the suspect was later taken into custody.
Police identified the suspect as Jemarcus Williams, 46. Court and jail records did not list on Thursday night an attorney for Williams who could speak on his behalf.
Williams faces charges of reckless driving, DUI and failing to stop at the scene of the crash, according to court records. Because the alleged crimes left two people dead, the charges include a sentencing enhancement that could add decades to Williams' punishment if he is convicted.
Clarkson said the investigation was ongoing.
Investigators don't have any information at this time to indicate that the troopers were targeted, Clarkson said.
Video released by the police department showed the bodies of both troopers being escorted to the coroner's office by about two dozen officers on motorcycles, their blue-and-red police lights flashing.
Outside the coroner's office, the law enforcement officers were joined by dozens more to salute as the bodies, which were covered with American flags, were carried inside by uniformed state troopers.
"It's a terrible, terrible tragedy to have these troopers lose their lives in the manner they did," Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
State police spokesperson Kim Yoko Smith said in a statement that Abbate and Felix served the state with "exceptional commitment and pride."
"Our prayers are with the families and loved ones of our fallen Troopers," Smith said.
Gov. Joe Lombardo said he was "profoundly saddened" by the troopers' deaths.
"This is a devastating loss for Nevada law enforcement, the city of Las Vegas, and our entire state," Lombardo said in a statement. "As we mourn these troopers, we will never forget their bravery, courage, and sacrifice."
A stretch of Nevada's busiest highway and several on-ramps were shut down after the crash.
The I-15 was where another state trooper was struck and killed in 2021 during the pursuit of a stolen vehicle. Trooper Micah May was hit by a vehicle while putting down spike strips to stop the suspect's car.
for more features.