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Man fires gun into ground during standoff with sheriff’s deputies

The man arrested after a near hour-long standoff with Nye County Sheriff’s deputies on Thursday afternoon, made his initial court appearance on Monday.

James Rourke, 69, appeared before Pahrump Justice of the Peace Kent Jasperson to face preliminary charges of aiming, discharging a firearm where a person is endangered, along with an intoxicated person in possession of a firearm.

Nye County Deputy District Attorney Michael Vieta-Kabell said Jasperson ordered a mental evaluation on Rourke, who actually discharged the firearm at least three times into the ground during the confrontation with deputies.

He also requested Rourke’s bail be set at $25,000.

“I personally requested bail because it was in our opinion that he represented some danger to the community,” Vieta-Kabell said. “Judge Jasperson ordered that if he is cleared by a psychiatrist, he can be released without posting bail but he does have to see a psychiatrist first.”

Nye County Sheriff’s deputies and SWAT crews responded to Rourke’s home along the 5000 block of Turner Street just after 3 p.m., for an armed suspect who was reportedly depressed.

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue medics also staged a short distance from the home.

A sheriff’s office negotiator managed to persuade Rourke drop the firearm and surrender around 3:45 p.m.

Vieta-Kabell said the deputies showed great restraint during the standoff.

“I was not at the scene, but obviously I think our officers do a great job in these types of situations,” he said. “My experience with our officers, is that they have done a fantastic job day in, and day out, resolving these situations with everybody still holding on to their lives.”

The prosecutor also said the situation could have easily had a much different ending.

“I think that when you’re involved in an armed standoff and the suspect discharges a firearm, a lot of times the natural consequences from police is to return fire,” he said. “I will say that I have been out here since 2009, and I know our officers have been put in positions where they have to protect themselves, members of the community and even the suspect. Time and time again, I have seen our officers exhibit amazing restraint and resist shooting someone who is acting in a way that would probably justify their actions.”

Additionally, Vieta-Kabell said the court will notify the district attorney’s office following Rourke’s mental evaluation.

“I think the court expects that he will be cleared by a psychiatrist at which point, he will be released,” he said. “Obviously my office did want to keep him in custody, but I understand and respect the justice of the peace’s decision because it does appear that it was a gentleman who was suicidal. While we believe he is a danger to the community, I think the justice court is taking some good steps to ensure that if and when he is released on his own recognizance, that he is no longer in that frame of mind he initially exhibited.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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