Man ID’d in 2018 deadly shooting remains free

By Ryan Lowery | December 13, 2019

On a cold Sunday morning, just 21 days into 2018, the sound of gunfire shattered the peace in a small Las Vegas, New Mexico, neighborhood nestled between Luis E. Armijo Elementary and an Allsup’s convenience store.

A man reported the incident to police dispatchers at 10:44 a.m.

“There’s been a shooting. They just killed someone,” the caller told a dispatch operator.

Officers arrived at a chaotic scene outside a home in the 2600 block of New Mexico Avenue where 36-year-old Jeromy “Joker” Vasquez lay on the ground, motionless and bleeding, the victim of multiple gunshot wounds.

Police began to secure the scene, unsure if the shooter was nearby. Within moments of arriving, first responders determined Vasquez was dead. Neighbors exited their homes and gathered to see what had happened. Friends and family of Vasquez also gathered. Some screamed and cried. Others attempted to get around police officers to get to Vasquez’s body.

One woman, Vasquez’s wife, succeeded. She then collapsed next to him on the ground, crying in grief as officers pulled her away.

These details are contained within several Las Vegas Police Department incident reports from that day. The documents — obtained through records requests in June 2018 and November 2019 — provide many details of what happened that January morning.

They show that officers arrived on scene within two minutes of the call to 911; that a black pistol, which appeared to have been fired, was found at Vasquez’s side; that two different types of shell casings were found at the scene; and that the man who’d shot Vasquez was in a hospital emergency room being treated for a gunshot wound.

What is not detailed in those incident reports is any indication that police considered arresting the man who’d shot Vasquez, even though he was a felon on probation, and admitted to police that the gun used had been tossed from the window of an SUV.

The Shooter

Multiple LVPD incident reports, a call sheet report and police dispatch audio recordings confirm that, minutes after police responded to the chaotic scene on New Mexico Avenue, a man named Albert Herrera arrived at Alta Vista Regional Hospital with a gunshot wound.

Several officers spoke with Herrera, and his family and friends, while he was being treated at Alta Vista. A woman told police she was with Herrera at the home on New Mexico Avenue when an “irate” Vasquez came to the house armed with a pistol. She said she handed Herrera a gun and said that as Herrera confronted Vasquez, she heard gunshots.

Police learned that after the shooting, Herrera went to his mother’s house, and from there, he was driven to the hospital in his mother’s SUV. They also learned that somewhere between her home and the hospital, the gun used to shoot Vasquez was tossed from the window of the vehicle, possibly along a “road with speed bumps.”

Although several officers searched for the gun, it was never located.

Herrera was later transported via helicopter from Alta Vista to an unnamed hospital. It does not appear he was ever detained, arrested or questioned further.

A man named Albert Herrera was treated at Alta Vista Regional Hospital for a gunshot wound. 

There, investigators interviewed Herrera, his family and his friends. An unnamed woman told police she was with Herrera at the home on New Mexico Avenue Vasquez arrived with a pistol. She told police she handed Herrera a gun just before he confronted Vasquez.

Catalyst of Confrontation

In September 2019 — 20 months after Jeromy Vasquez was killed — agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI swarmed Las Vegas, carrying out several raids.

At the conclusion of the federal raids, a search warrant affidavit filed in U.S. District Court was unsealed. The 183-page affidavit provided several details on a string of homicides that occurred in Vegas throughout the summer of 2019. It also provided a potential reason for the violence that erupted on New Mexico Avenue on Jan. 21, 2018.

According to the affidavit, that morning, someone set fire to a vehicle belonging to Vasquez. Vasquez reportedly believed Herrera was responsible because Herrera was thought to be involved romantically with Vasquez’s wife.

According to the affidavit, Vasquez, along with a man named John F. Salazar, who’s also known as “Stoner,” went to Herrera’s home to confront him.

Jeromy "Joker" Vasquez

Jeromy Vasquez was shot and killed the morning of Jan. 21, 2018.

Photo courtesy of the Vasquez family

The Witness

As the police investigation continued at the home on New Mexico Avenue, John Salazar approached an officer and admitted to being “involved” in the shooting, according to an LVPD incident report. Salazar requested to speak with a supervisor, and he was transported to LVPD’s station to meet with an investigator.

At the police station, Salazar told investigators he was a passenger in Vasquez’s SUV as they drove around town talking. He said Vasquez eventually drove to Herrera’s house, got out of the SUV, walked up to a fence, and began to quarrel with Herrera.

Salazar told police he couldn’t hear what was said because the music in the SUV was too loud.

He also said he was “in and out of it,” but he soon heard several gunshots.

Salazar ducked when he heard the shots, but told police Vasquez dropped to the ground, and that he saw a man in a hoodie briefly stand over Vasquez before running away.

Salazar exited the vehicle and ran to Vasquez, finding him dead. A woman nearby was holding an AK-47 rifle, he told police.

Unsure what to do, Salazar got into the SUV and drove to Vasquez’s house where he picked up Amanda Silva, Vasquez’s wife, and then drove her back to the house on New Mexico Avenue.

Salazar was not charged in the shooting, and after the interview at the police station, an officer drove him home.

However, both Salazar and Silva were named as targets of the federal raids that took place in September. It is unclear if either were arrested during the raids. Two representatives with the Department of Justice were contacted for clarification, but neither provided a response.

Unanswered Questions

LVPD nor the DA’s office have ever publicly cleared Herrera in the death of Vasquez, or stated that he acted in self-defense.

According to LVPD incident reports and the FBI affidavit, LVPD executed a search warrant on Herrera’s home after the shooting. During the search, police saw a loaded magazine for an AK-47 rifle on a couch in Herrera’s home. They also seized a “large amount” of U.S. currency.

According to the FBI affidavit, Herrera has served time in federal prison, and at the time of the shooting, was on supervised probation for “drug distribution and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.”

However, there is no record of his arrest for the shooting, for violating the terms of his probation or for being a felon in possession of a destructive device — such as the gun he used to shoot Vasquez or for the ammunition found in a loaded magazine in his home.

LVPD Chief of Police David Bibb would not answer questions about Herrera, but in an email, he said that all evidence in the case has been turned over to the district attorney’s office.

Fourth Judicial District Attorney Richard Flores did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding the case.

Read the Original Documents Used in This Reporting

Federal Search Warrant

Las Vegas Police Reports