The video is chilling. James Edgar Lewis is sleeping under a Las Vegas freeway when a dark-colored SUV passes by. Seconds later, a man wearing a dark top emerges from the vehicle and shoots Lewis twice in the head before fleeing.
There is no struggle, no fight. Lewis never even appears to wake up.
“It’s basically an execution,” said Lt. Dan McGrath of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.
Lewis’ death on Friday has Las Vegas police looking for clues that may link the fatal attack to the shooting of another homeless man 10 minutes away and four days earlier.
On January 29, Brian Clegg was shot and killed, also while sleeping, in front of a business on a busy street.
“There is a possibility that these two incidents are related,” said LVMPD spokeswoman Laura Meltzer. “A homeless person was sleeping when the person shot them.”
Police released the video showing Lewis’ “cold-blooded killing” on their Facebook page, urging anyone with information to come forward. The video is very graphic and comes with a warning.
Meanwhile, Meltzer says police are canvassing the areas surrounding the shootings and asking residents to check their home surveillance cameras for footage of a dark-colored SUV or a male in a dark hoodie, which was what the suspect was wearing when he shot Clegg.
“Our patrol sector and investigative detail are attempting to solve these crimes with an increased presence in areas where we have large numbers of homeless people,” Meltzer said. “We never quite know where that piece of information is going to come from that can solve these cases.”
‘Why would they do that to him?’
In addition, officers from the LVMPD Office of Community and Engagement are informing the city’s homeless population about the shootings.
“They’re letting them know that these events have taken place and encouraging them to utilize our homeless shelters,” Meltzer said.
A third homeless person was stabbed on January 28 but police said that victim had gotten in a physical altercation and they do not believe the case is related to the two shootings.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas residents are baffled by the shootings. Several of Lewis’ friends expressed grief over his death.
“Why would they do that to him? He was such a nice person,” friend Debbie Perez told CNN affiliate KSNV, fighting back tears.
Melissa Harris, who came with her children to place candles near the shooting scene, said Lewis, known as “Pops,” was a familiar sight around town, often riding his bicycle and collecting cans.
“He’d sleep here every night,” she told KSNV. “He never bothered anybody.”