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Routine traffic stop leads to arrest in drive-by shooting

Molly Waldron

Routine traffic stop leads to arrest in drive-by shooting

By Molly Waldron. CREATED Feb 14, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Police officers never know what they're going to encounter while on duty. In this week's Crime Beat, a typical traffic stop turned into much more.

Officer Jonathan Houghton was alone on patrol near Nellis and Sahara when something just didn't look right.

"I was rolling through the apartment complex and I saw a vehicle pull into a complex with a flat tire," said Officer Houghton. "It caught me off guard -- why is someone driving on a flat tire?"

When he pulled the car over, his instinct that something was wrong only grew stronger.

"There was dried blood on the steering wheel, a little bit of dried blood on the door handle. I was like, that's unusual," said Officer Houghton.

The three people inside the car gave stories that just didn't match, so he decided to do a little research.

"All three of them, when I ran their information, had gang affiliations," said Officer Houghton.

Just as that was happening, Gang Unit Detective William Matchko was sending out an alert about a drive-by shooting at an apartment near Lamb and Lake Mead.

"A lot of innocent people were in the area. Innocent people's residences got hit," said Detective Matchko. "I sent out a 'Be on the lookout' to all patrol officers that we were looking for a certain description of a vehicle. He got that 'Be on the lookout' and called me immediately."

"Everything matched the car stop that I had just done," said Officer Houghton.

Sure enough, the driver, 19-year-old Leroy Thomas Freeman, was the man police were looking for. Detective Matcho discovered that the other people in the car were tied to unsolved crimes.

"Further investigation actually revealed that a few of those subjects are involved in the door-kick series the department is investigating, and a lot of the home invasions," Detective Matchko said.

The Las Vegas Metro Police Dept. is still looking for more suspects in those door-kick home invasions, but investigators say every person they catch helps.

In total, about five cases were solved because of proactive police work during that traffic stop.