Months after a young woman who served in the Nevada Army National Guard was gunned down at a Halloween party, cops say leads have “dried up” and they’re desperate for tips.
Just before 1 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2021, Graciela Gomez, 22, was struck and killed by gunfire after a group of men who were denied entry to the costume party drove past the house and opened fire, Las Vegas Metro Police said.
Three months after her death, Lt. Ray Spencer said investigators desperately need witnesses to come forward, noting that the suspects have eluded cops and the investigation has been “hampered” by poor quality surveillance video from that night. Partygoers who fled the scene before cops arrived have also complicated efforts to identify potential suspects, Spencer said.
During a news conference Thursday, Spencer said that party hosts had rented a house and shared party details with friends on social media before an invitation spread to “hundreds” more people and quickly began to “get out of hand.”
“People were showing up to the party that they didn’t know,” Spencer said, prompting the hosts to pat partygoers down before entering the rental.
Spencer said the suspects had refused the security check, which “started a confrontation between the host and the people who were trying to get in.”
“Moments later, after leaving the party because they were refused entry, a car drove by in front of the house and multiple shots were fired,” Spencer said. Graciela suffered a gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were injured.
Spencer said leads on the suspects have waned and no witnesses have been able to identify them so far.
Surveillance video allegedly showed shots coming out of a sedan with “multiple people inside,” Spencer said, but cops have been unable to identify the color of the car due to the “very, very poor” quality of video obtained from that night.
Spencer said he believes someone who has yet to come forward could help put together the missing pieces and solve Gomez’s murder.
“Graciela had her life tragically taken away from her before it even started,” Spencer said. “We know that there were additional partygoers at the front entrance when the party was taking place, and we also know that there were people who fled the party prior to the police arrival.”
Graciela’s mom, Concepcion Velasquez-Gomez, also pleaded for answers on Thursday.
“My daughter was a good person, [with] a bright future ahead of her. She was a person who always tried to fly high, she was always looking to be a better person,” Velasquez-Gomez said in Spanish, according to a translation by KLAS-TV.
A GoFundMe page was established in November to cover her daughter’s funeral expenses.
Brig. Gen. Troy Armstrong described the slain veteran, who joined the guard in 2018, as “enthusiastic, dependable and committed” and a “courageous warrior” who was a college student studying to eventually serve as an educator.
Before her tragic death, Armstrong said that Gomez had “put her life on pause” by volunteering to fight the battle against COVID-19. She had served at testing and vaccination sites across southern Nevada as a member of the COVID-19 Task Force for the past year.
“Graciela was a daughter, she’s a niece, she’s a sister, and she’s a military veteran whose life was taken away for absolutely no reason,” Spencer said. “Our community needs to find justice for Graciela and her family because someone out there knows who is responsible for her death.”
In an email to The Daily Beast on Friday, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department said the investigation was “ongoing” but declined to say whether it had identified any new witnesses in the case.