AP NewsBreak: Las Vegas Strip crash driver said crowd stared like ‘demons’
September 23, 2005
LAS VEGAS – A man accused of killing two tourists and injuring 12 others on the Las Vegas Strip told police he steered his car into the crowd on the sidewalk because they were staring at him like demons.Stephen M. Ressa, 27, also told police he saw people with their hands in their pockets and thought they might be armed with guns, according to an arrest report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.”They were staring at him like they were ‘demons,”‘ the report said. “Ressa admitted he became angry at them, and intentionally steered the vehicle toward them.”Ressa, of Rialto, Calif., was arrested Wednesday shortly after the car barreled through the crowd and crashed into a cement barrier in front of Bally’s hotel-casino. He was being held without bail on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.Six of the victims remained hospitalized Friday, with one listed in serious condition.Ressa is also suspected in a near-fatal attack on his mother two days before the crash, though he has not been charged in that case. His father said the family had been “living in fear” of Ressa, a former star baseball player, and had tried to get him treatment and counseling.In two interviews, Ressa told detectives he had borrowed his mother’s burgundy Buick and drove to Las Vegas, where he spent a few days gambling and slept in the car. Police described the car as stolen.Although Ressa told police he had a drug and alcohol problem, he said he had used neither Wednesday. He told police he had been prescribed medication but had stopped taking it. Results of drug and alcohol tests were pending.People were always “out to get him,” Ressa told police.”He stated people were trying to kill him, although he could never provide any details,” the report said.Ressa was scheduled to appear in court Monday. There was no record he had retained a lawyer, and attempts to speak with him at the jail were unsuccessful.Ressa’s mother had reported her car stolen Monday after the near-fatal attack in Rialto. Ressa is suspected of punching the 54-year-old numerous times in the face, choking her into unconsciousness and standing over her with a butcher knife, according to Rialto authorities.Police believe Ressa may have been under the influence of methamphetamine at the time.Court records show Ressa has struggled with drugs and alcohol. He was arrested in May for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. After pleading guilty in August, he was sentenced to nine months in jail and was allowed to serve time on weekends.Before that Ressa was arrested for driving under the influence and disorderly conduct of a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol.His family had placed Ressa in drug rehabilitation several times, his father Michael Ressa told the Los Angeles Times.”We’ve been living in fear with him, especially during the last few months,” Michael Ressa said. “He’s not my son, not the son I used to know, anyway.”Ressa was a standout pitcher for two seasons at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where he was a “fiery type competitor,” said George Wing, the head baseball coach.”I can see Steve giving his mom and dad hugs after the game. It was a very close family. It’s just so out of character for this young man,” Wing said.—Associated Press Writer Michael Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.