By Scott Sonner
RENO — A Reno police officer was justified when he fatally shot a gunman who held a woman hostage and fired nearly 50 shots from an eighth-floor condominium overlooking the downtown casino district nearly two years ago, the district attorney said in a final report made public Friday about the shooting.
No one was hit by bullets when 30-year-old Lucas Stone fired repeatedly for more than an hour on Nov. 28, 2017. But the barrage of gunfire initially stirred fears of the potential for a massacre like the one in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017 that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds.
The Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, had owned a unit in the same high-rise condominium complex that Stone opened fire from. Records show Paddock sold it in December 2016.
Investigators say Stone during had been drinking heavily, was high on methamphetamine and hallucinating that strangers were throwing people — including a baby — off neighboring rooftops.
Officer Marshall Eason had no choice but to use deadly force when he shot and killed Stone after a SWAT team blew open the condominium door while the hostage hid under the bathroom sink in the bullet-riddled condo, said Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks.
One resident in a neighboring unit suffered a superficial injury to her hand but didn’t require medical attention.
It appeared Stone “was shooting at subjects that did not exist,” Lt. Michael Keating of Sparks police said in the days after the shooting. His agency was among those that investigated the shooting by the Reno officer.
Police dispatchers received more than 100 telephone calls about the gunfire shortly after it began at about 6:30 p.m.
Officers determined it was coming from the eighth floor of the Montage building a block off Reno’s main casino drag and started evacuating neighboring units.
At 6:46 p.m., a woman later identified as Kari Oakes called 911 to report Stone was holding her hostage while shooting a rifle from inside the condo.
She said Stone “was hallucinating and believed that people were located atop the surrounding buildings and were throwing people off the rooftops,” according to the investigative report released Friday.
Oakes stayed on her 911 call for 44 minutes, providing details to a dispatcher as Stone paced and fired the rifle indiscriminately. She said Stone had encouraged her to call police because he needed help protecting her from people he perceived as threats.
At one point she started a Facetime connection allowing a police negotiator to try to communicate with Stone, but he refused to engage in negotiations. She never felt safe enough to try to walk out of the condominium’s the front door, the report said.
In response to police requests to put down his weapon and surrender, Stone “would laugh and tell officers that they needed to break the door down” and “continued to make nonsensical statements throughout the incident,” the report said.
A SWAT team eventually set off explosives at the door but it did not completely open so they had to use a sledgehammer to break it and get into the condominium. When officers saw Oakes in a fetal position in the bathroom, Stone raised his rifle from a few feet away and pointed the U.S. military M1 carbine at them.
Eason fired a single shot, hitting Stone in the torso. Stone tried to flee but officers tackled him. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“It was absolutely necessary for Officer Eason to use deadly force in order to save his life and/or the lives of the officers who entered Stone’s apartment immediately behind him,” Hicks wrote in the report.