LAS VEGAS – What police first described as a road rage-inspired shooting of an innocent mother of four has morphed into a more complex scenario, prompting tough questions for the Las Vegas family and investigators.
Tammy Meyers, 44, was shot in the head in her own driveway shortly before midnight Thursday after confrontations that began when she was giving her 15-year-old daughter an after-hours driving lesson and the girl honked at a driver she felt was speeding, police said.
Those facts haven’t changed, police Lt. Ray Steiber said Tuesday at a news conference, where he noted that the mother’s life-support was disconnected on Valentine’s Day, and insisted that she alone is “our victim.”
But as it turns out, the fatal shooting was a two-way shootout, provoked by a separate encounter with unidentified assailants, after Tammy Meyers roused her son, Brandon, from bed to grab his gun and go looking for the driver she had encountered earlier, Steiber said.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Tammy Meyers’ children didn’t initially reveal to police that she had gone home to drop off her daughter and recruit her 22-year-old son, who carries a registered handgun, in an attempt to confront the driver they had had encountered earlier.
That put Steiber on the defensive as he faced questions Tuesday.
“I would never say that anybody went looking for trouble,” Steiber said when asked to characterize their five-to-10 minute drive through the neighborhood.
“It is our job, Steiber said, “to ensure that everyone is safe, regardless of what our personal opinions are on certain people’s actions. They weren’t criminal and I'll leave it at that.”
Family members also defended their actions at a vigil Tuesday night, held next to the junior high school parking lot where Kristal Meyers got her driving lesson.
“She didn’t deserve this,” said Brandon Meyers, 22. “I did what I had to do to protect my family. Everyone can think what they have to think. I did it for a reason. And I’d do it for anyone I love.”
Also contradicting earlier police accounts, Steiber said homicide detectives now don’t believe the suspect’s grey sedan and Meyers’ green Buick Park Avenue sedan ever collided, or that assailants initially followed Meyers and her daughter home.
No one in the family called police until after the shooting, and police initially had little more to go on than the accounts of the son and daughter involved, Steiber said.
Meyers’ husband, Robert, who was in Southern California at the time of the shooting, said Friday that his son Brandon told him he believed there were three people in the car and that he had hit the car at least once with his 9mm handgun.
He said at the vigil that his son is a hero, and that his wife apparently was panicked when she went back out in search of the driver who frightened her.
“There was mistakes made like every one of us has made in our lives, but this particular mistake was made to keep a bigger mistake from happening,” he said.
Meyers didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a message left at his business, Auction Stalkers LLC.
Police Officer Laura Meltzer, a department spokeswoman, said Wednesday there were no immediate developments overnight.
“We’re still looking for the vehicle and the people involved,” she said.
Steiber pointed to a police sketch of a man sought for questioning, believed to be in his mid-20s with blond spiky hair and blue or hazel eyes, wearing a white V-neck T-shirt, and said “all indications to us are that this unknown person fired first.”
Steiber said the initial road rage incident happened while Tammy Meyers was behind the wheel, driving slowly home from the parking lot. The girl didn’t have a learner’s permit, but the lot was private property, Steiber said, apparently in response to those who accused the mother of letting the girl illegally take the wheel.
The daughter told police that a car sped up to them from behind, and that she reached over from the passenger seat and honked the horn at the car as it passed.
“She figured that this person was speeding, and needed to be corrected. Right or wrong, she beeped the horn,” Steiber said.
The man then blocked their car, got out and “there were some words that were said by the suspect. This frightened Mrs. Meyers and her daughter, at which time Mrs. Meyers sped past him” and went home, he said.
“Here’s what happens when she gets home,” the lieutenant continued. “Mrs. Meyers is scared, but she’s upset. She tells her daughter to go wake up her son, 22, to wake him up and have him come outside and get in the car with her so later they can find who frightened them and her daughter out on the roadway.”
“They left the house in search of that person,” Steiber said, and found a grey or silver four-door sedan matching the description of the car in the earlier confrontation. She followed the “suspect vehicle,” then they broke apart and she drove home. Then the vehicle came into their cul-de-sac.
“There was a volley of rounds fired from that vehicle,” and Brandon Meyers “returned fire,” the officer said. “When the firing was done, he found that his mother had been struck by gunfire. The suspect vehicle then backed out and sped away. That’s what happened. Tammy is a victim.”
“Unfortunately I cannot say what was in Tammy’s mind,” the police lieutenant said.
Tammy Meyers was behind her son during the shootout, and Steiber said police don’t believe he was responsible for the fatal shot.