Sections of the Reno freeway interchange, also known as the Spaghetti Bowl, were blocked for hours early Saturday as police unsuccessfully negotiated for the peaceful surrender of the armed driver. The ramps were closed after the man fired a handgun in the air and was then considered a public threat, NHP Trooper Chuck Allen said.
At around 11:50 p.m. on Friday night, an NHP trooper spotted the driver allegedly speeding at over 90 mph on eastbound Interstate 80. After exiting the freeway at the Victorian Avenue off-ramp, the driver stopped briefly for the trooper before fleeing onto a northbound lane of the interchange at Kietzke Lane. The trooper, having smelled alcohol on the driver, pursued. The driver then lost control of his car and crashed into a freeway wall, Allen said.
The driver exited the car and turned to face three NHP troopers responding to the scene. The driver allegedly aimed a black semi-automatic handgun at his head, fired a single shot in the air then returned the gun to his head. After asking the troopers to turn off their vehicle headlights, the driver barricaded himself in his car with the gun either pointed to his head or in his lap, Allen said. The troopers did not comply with the driver’s request.
After the shot was fired, the area was closed to traffic and other law enforcement agencies responded including Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Reno Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. Sparks police assisted with traffic control, Allen said.
The ramps remained closed all night as negotiators attempted to talk the driver into surrendering. According to Allen, the situation was later “somewhat resolved” but that freeway ramps would remain closed for the follow-up investigation.
According to an Associated Press report, the man took his own life at 8 a.m. Saturday and the stand-off with police ended after eight hours. Trooper Allen said he could not give the driver’s name until the family was notified. The freeway ramp remained closed for 12 hours according to the report.