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March 1, 2013

Police detail 9 minutes before Vegas fireball

LAS VEGAS — It took just nine fateful minutes for a valet stand dispute to escalate to a deadly Las Vegas Strip shooting, crash and fireball.

Nearly every second was captured by video, audio and witness accounts and detailed in a Las Vegas police report made public after a weeklong manhunt led to the arrest of Ammar Harris in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Investigators say Harris, a 26-year-old felon and self-described pimp, exchanged angry words with aspiring rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. in a casino valet area.

The shouting continued as the two men drove in separate cars along Las Vegas Boulevard, with tires squealing and a horn blaring.

Police say it wasn't long before Harris began shooting, Cherry was mortally wounded, and his Maserati careened into a taxi that exploded in a fireball. In the end, Cherry and two other people were dead, and five others were injured in a spectacular, multi-vehicle crash at one of the most famous neon-lit crossroads in Las Vegas.

Stunned tourists compared the carnage to a Hollywood action film.

The report said it was 4:11 a.m. Feb. 21 when Harris stood for a moment in the valet area of the glossy and glassy Aria resort, talking with Cherry, who was in the driver's seat of the dark gray Maserati.

"What was said specifically, I can't say," Las Vegas police Capt. Chris Jones said Friday. "But it's clear there was an exchange of words and a dispute that led to this senseless act."

Police found no gun in the Maserati and no evidence that Cherry had returned fire in the attack that ended just before 4:20 a.m. The SUV disappeared along Las Vegas Boulevard as cab driver Michael Boldon, 62, of Las Vegas, and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, 48, of Washington state perished in the taxi.

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