Shooting, crash on Strip leave three dead February 21, 2013 at 12:42 pm Mike Blasky & Antonio Planas, Las Vegas Review-Journal Kenny Cherry relished a dangerous lifestyle. The 27-year-old aspiring rapper, who called himself “Kenny Clutch,” posed with guns and drugs in one YouTube video. In another, Cherry drove through the Las Vegas streets at night in a two-door Maserati, rapping about pimping women and shooting guns. Cherry was shot dead Thursday morning while driving that Maserati after an altercation outside a posh Strip hotel. He then crashed the car into a taxicab, causing a fiery explosion on the Strip that killed cabdriver Michael Boldon, 62, and Boldon’s passenger, who was not identified. The innocent bystanders were burned beyond recognition. Now a multistate manhunt is under way for suspects driving a Range Rover used in the drive-by shooting. And in the aftermath, which created an international firestorm, authorities were forced to answer the question: Is Las Vegas safe? “Yes, it is,” an angry Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at an afternoon news conference. “What happened on the Strip today will not be tolerated,” he said, adding, “There are no absolutes when people’s behavior is in question.” Las Vegas police said Thursday’s carnage began with an argument in the valet parking of the Aria at Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. About 4:30 a.m., suspects in a black, late-model Range Rover with large black rims and paper dealer plates opened fire on Cherry’s Maserati. Cherry accelerated into the intersection of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard, crashing into Boldon’s taxi. Gillespie said the “sheer impact” of the collision caused the Desert Cab company taxi to burst into flames and burn wildly in front of the closed Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon, on Las Vegas Boulevard near Caesars Palace. A passenger in Cherry’s car was grazed by a bullet and taken to University Medical Center for treatment. He was cooperating with police, and his name was not released. Also, three occupants of other vehicles in the collision were transported to area hospitals with minor to moderate injuries. The suspects in the Range Rover had evaded capture as of late Thursday. It’s unclear what started the argument. Reports indicated Cherry, and possibly the suspects, had been at Aria’s Haze nightclub earlier that morning attending a performance by rapper French Montana. At the time of the sheriff’s afternoon briefing, police had not yet determined how many rounds were fired or what type of gun was used in the shooting. Gillespie said video footage was being retrieved from cameras at casinos and other taxis near the scene. After the shooting, the Range Rover was caught on Venetian surveillance video heading toward Koval Lane. Sgt. John Sheahan said detectives were searching the resort corridor south of Flamingo for any available clues and witnesses. “They’re working on finding the genesis of what kicked this off,” Sheahan said. MGM Resorts International, which owns the Aria, released a statement praising its professional security staff and extensive surveillance system. “We continue to work closely with Metro on this investigation,” Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. Gillespie said authorities in neighboring states had been alerted to watch for the vehicle. The parking lot of Boldon’s employer, Desert Cab company, was full of taxis Thursday. None of their cabs could be found on Fremont Street on Thursday morning, although it was unclear whether the company had called in all drivers after the shooting. The company declined comment on Boldon and directed questions to the Clark County coroner’s office. At least two of the dead victims’ families and friends received the worst news possible Thursday afternoon. Patricia Turney, a friend of Boldon’s family, said the coroner’s office notified Boldon’s brother of his death. She said Boldon moved to Las Vegas from Detroit to help care for his ailing mother after a stroke. Boldon’s family was very close and was devastated by the news, Turney said. “He was a wonderful man,” she said. Turney, from Long Beach, Calif., blamed the violence on one issue. “Get rid of the guns,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the guns, everybody would have been alive.” Cherry’s loved ones also learned of his death early in the afternoon. Vicki Greco, a lawyer who had represented Cherry for several speeding tickets and considered him a friend, said he was a father of two children and wasn’t a gang member. “He was a loyal, dependable friend, and we at the law firm will miss him,” Greco said. Photos and videos taken after the crash showed a fireball shooting into the dark sky as weary tourists watched in shock. Paul Pillat, a homeless man who acknowledged he had been drinking overnight, said he was on the Strip when the shooting happened. “I heard the gunshots go off,” he said. “I said, ‘Whoa.’ I ducked down. I didn’t know what was going on.” When he walked by the scene 10 or 15 minutes later, he said there were wrecked cars everywhere. “It looked like a … demolition derby,” he said. “Oh yeah. It was a mess.” Flamingo was closed between Interstate 15 and Audrie Lane, and the Strip was closed between Caesars Palace and Harmon Avenue until Thursday evening. Thursday’s shooting wasn’t the first major Las Vegas shooting near Flamingo to make international news. On Sept. 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur was shot at the intersection of Flamingo and Koval Lane as he rode in the front seat of a car driven by Death Row Records Chairman Marion “Suge” Knight. Before the shooting, the two had attended the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon boxing match at the MGM Grand, where Shakur and his entourage had an altercation with a man named Orlando Anderson of Compton, Calif. According to police reports, one of the occupants of a nearby vehicle leaned out and fired several shots at Knight’s BMW. Shakur, 25, was struck four times and died six days later at University Medical Center. Knight suffered a minor head wound. On Thursday, the Aria valet crew working at the time of the car chase and shooting had gone home by 8 a.m. By the afternoon, it was business as usual. Aria workers steadily parked cars as third-hand rumors – supposedly originating with taxi drivers and graveyard-shift staff who witnessed the altercation – circulated among the staff. One longtime valet said he had heard a lot about that morning, some of it conflicting information. That shouldn’t matter though, he remarked, pointing at a camera behind his head. “These are everywhere and see everything.” Staff writers Colton Lochhead, Richard Lake, Brian Haynes, Norm Clarke, Howard Stutz and Trevon Milliard contributed to this report. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@review journal.com or 702-383-4638.