LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Police interviewed several witnesses to an attack that killed a bicyclist in the east Valley on Oct. 25, and each account varies to some degree, according to an arrest report obtained by 8 News Now.
The Clark County Coroner identified the victim as 56-year-old Michelle Marie Weissman.
When police arrived on-scene Sunday morning, the located two people deceased: Weissman and an unidentified male, dubbed John “Hollywood Doe.”
According to the report, investigators found debris between the two decedents, as well as evidence of a vehicle tire hitting the curb in the area where Weissman was found. They also observed a six to seven foot marked bike lane.
Metro’s homicide section was called in to assist after the traffic fatal investigations section examined evidence and spoke with witnesses. Detectives interviewed at least five people to glean details as to what occurred. The accounts are as follows:
Witness No. 1: The witness recounted to police he was riding in a vehicle with his daughter and son-in-law when a burgundy van, gold car and another small car passed them at a high rate of speed. The man saw a male lean out of the front passenger window of the van and shove a female bicyclist riding in the bicycle lane, the report says. The cyclist reportedly went flying, and then there was a lot of dust.
After the alleged shove, the witness said he saw the man who shoved the cyclist fall out of the window, fly across the ground, strike a light pole and continue “sliding and rolling” across the ground. He told police all three vehicles continued on.
The witness, his daughter and son-in-law and several other citizens tried to help the woman. According to the report, he saw the gold vehicle come back. Three young women got out of the vehicle and began crying and screaming about the male who passed.
Witness No. 2: The second witness police interviewed was walking on the west sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard with his wife when they were passed by the bicyclist. He told authorities she said “good morning” as she rode by. The man soon heard engines of several vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed and saw a burgundy van, with a male seated on the windowsill of the front passenger door, holding onto the roof.
The report says the male took a swing at the witness as the van passed but did not hit him. As the van continued, it approached the bicyclist. The male reportedly reached out to push her when the van struck her and sent her over the handlebars. The victim hit her head before tumbling into the desert area next to the sidewalk.
The witness said the gold car following the van came back, and as the first witness said, several young women got out and began crying over the deceased male.
Witnesses No. 3, 4 & 5: All three women were in the gold Ford Focus that witnesses saw following the van in question at a high rate of speed. The witnesses told police they were at “The View,” thought to be located in the area of Lake Mead, just west of Hollywood, drinking and hanging out for a couple hours with several others.
They said they were with “Gio” and another male named “Rego.” After they left The View, they followed Rego to his home. Rego was reportedly driving the van and Gio was the passenger. Police say other people may have been in the van, but if they were, they couldn’t be identified.
According to the report, the witnesses noted what others had: the vehicles were driving fast, with Gio hanging out the front passenger window. His entire upper body was outside of the vehicle. The women thought he “was messing around and dancing” when he apparently fell out of the van.
While the van kept driving, the witnesses drove back to check on Gio.
One of the women said she saw the victim fall off her bike, but none of them reportedly saw Gio or the van hit her or come into contact with any other pedestrian.
Detectives working the case identified the suspect, 22-year-old Rodrigo Cruz, via social media. They went to his house, where they noted a burgundy Toyota sienna minivan missing the same components that were found at the scene. Authorities saw him exit the house and leave in a car driven by a female. They later took him into custody in the 4600 block of East Flamingo.
When detectives interviewed Cruz at Metro headquarters, he reportedly talked for a long time, relaying varying accounts of what happened to the van. His first version detailed his friend Jonathan driving the van because Cruz didn’t have a license. The report says he later told police he’d been lying, that he had been driving and revealed he believed he was driving 50-60 mph when Gio pushed the bicyclist.
As to why he fled the scene, Cruz told authorities he was scared since he was on parole and thought Gio was okay after the fall. He also said he did not remember Gio trying to strike pedestrians on the sidewalk but later noted Gio was “always doing stupid stuff.”
According to the report, the suspect denied driving in the bicycle lane when authorities asked him. However, he then said he “more than likely” might have, as he was trying to grab Gio to keep him from falling out. He also stressed he wasn’t intentionally driving in a manner that would give Gio the opportunity to make contact with pedestrians or the victim.
At the conclusion, police say the width of the marked bike lane and evidence at the scene indicate Cruz would’ve been driving in the lane right next to the curb. This would reportedly have allowed Gio to reach out and try to strike the second witness and to push Weissman from her bike, killing her.
Cruz was booked at the Clark County Detention Center and faces an open murder charge, failure to stop at the scene of an accident and a parole violation. The suspect was denied bail due to a parole violation and will remain in custody until his next hearing. He has two prior felony convictions.