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Here’s What We Know About Officer Mikalonis, A Now-Paralyzed Cop Shot During The Vegas Riots

Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • A Las Vegas police officer was paralyzed from the neck down after he was shot in the head while monitoring riots over the death of George Floyd June 1.
  • “Shay is on a ventilator and will remain so,” Officer Shay Mikalonis’s family said. “He is also paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak. Shay is awake and seems to recognize his family members.”
  • Mikalonis is a four year veteran of the LVMPD and comes from a law enforcement family.

A 29-year-old Las Vegas police officer was paralyzed from the neck down after he was shot in the head monitoring riots over the death of George Floyd, according to his family.

Officer Shay Mikalonis’ family announced in a statement Saturday that Mikalonis had been paralyzed from the neck down and remained on a ventilator after he was shot in the head June 1. The officer had been accepted at a spine rehabilitation center, the family said, and would remain on the ventilator for the foreseeable future. (RELATED: These Are The Police Officers Shot During The Riots)

“Yesterday was a great day for our family and Shay,” the family’s statement said. “We were amazed at the outpouring of support for the [Injured Police Officers Fund (IPOF)] Pray For Shay day fundraiser that was held yesterday. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we feel. We as a family want to say thank you Las Vegas for your continuing support of Shay.”

Mikalonis was shot monitoring riots over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, video of the incident showed. Derek Chauvin, the officer, has been fired and arrested on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

“Shay is on a ventilator and will remain so. He is also paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak,” Mikalonis’ family said. “Shay is awake and seems to recognize his family members. We can’t thank the staff of professionals at UMC for getting him this far, truly a miracle!”

“Because of the life saving work and care he received, Shay has tentatively been accepted into one of the best rehabilitation centers in the country. There are many factors that come into play here but I will release the name of the center when the time is right. We are anticipating that Shay will be moving on in his long journey ahead,” the family statement continued.

Early reports said that Mikalonis had been killed in Las Vegas after being shot in the head, but police later confirmed he was alive and on life support. Twenty-year-old Edgar Samaniego was arrested for allegedly shooting Mikalonis, 8NewsNow reported.

Samaniego faces charges that include attempted murder and is being held on $1 million bail, the publication reported. Police said that surveillance videos showed him firing into the crowd of protestors as Mikalonis took someone into custody, though Samaniego told police he is not a protestor and was staying at a nearby hotel.

The Laughlin Nevada Times reported that Samaniego had been staying in the Travelodge hotel with a 17-year-old girl, and that after Samaniego shot Mikalonis, he walked back to this hotel. The shot pierced Mikalonis’s spine and then lodged in the right side of his face, according to the publication.

Samaniego used a Glock 19 handgun, according to prosecutors who reviewed video surveillance, and he fired two more shots after he allegedly wounded the police officer, the Laughlin Nevada Times reported.

A judge presiding over Samaniego’s case found that the alleged shooter had also been accused of violating a stay-out-of-trouble order and revoked Samaniego’s bail Thursday. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson said that Samaniego is a “danger to the community,” according to the Laughlin Nevada Times.

“This isn’t simply because a police officer was shot, although that is extremely concerning, particularly in light of the atmosphere in the country right now,” Tobiasson said. “It’s extremely troubling that this person goes to work this evening to attempt to keep the peace and winds up gravely injured by someone who clearly wasn’t there to protest.”

Mikalonis played football for Arbor View High School as a wide receiver and graduated from the high school in 2008, according to the Laughlin Nevada Times. (RELATED: REPORT: Las Vegas Police Officer Paralyzed After Protesters Shoot Him In The Head)

“The Arbor View family is saddened and praying for former Aggie football player Officer Shay Mikalonis who was senselessly shot last night during the protests,” the Arbor View Football Twitter account tweeted June 2, the day after Mikalonis was shot. “Please be safe, and look out for one another. We are all better than this. Listen, empathize, and communicate.”

The school did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Mikalonis joined the Las Vegas Metro Police Department in 2016 and is a four year veteran of the department, the Laughlin Nevada Times reports. He also comes from a law enforcement family: both of his parents have worked for the Las Vegas police in the past. When he was shot, Mikalonis had been assigned to the area command near the convention center on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Mikalonis’s family has expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support that followed the shooting of Mikalonis. The IPOF organized a day long fundraiser for the paralyzed police officer that took place Thursday.

Thousands reportedly showed up to pay their respects and offer donations during the fundraiser, dubbed “Shay Day,” according to Fox8.

“Today is important because it just goes to show that there are people out there that do care for the family and do care for officers. So we would love to have their support,” said Mikalonis’ step-father, Patrick Neville, according to Fox8.

“The support has been phenomenal,” he added. “It was almost overwhelming at times, which is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing. The community outpour is — I’ve never seen this. I’ve been in Vegas for a long time. A lot of times, Vegas, gets a bad rap. They really do, and then you see this, and this is a real community. So we’re really proud to live here and proud of what the community has done.”

Mikalonis was an avid supporter of the Las Vegas hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights. Representatives from the team came to “Shay Day” to show support for Mikalonis and brought the family three signed hockey sticks with personal messages.

“The representatives from the Golden Knights came, which was really, really nice. They gave Shay a signed jersey,” Frank Mikalonis, the uncle of the police officer, told the Review Journal.

“Bill Foley and the Knights have been extremely generous,” said Las Vegas police Lt. Erik Lloyd of the IPOF, the publication reports. Lloyd would not say how much the fundraiser raised, but noted that it was a “significant amount,” and another member of the IPOF told the publication that police officers from California, Arizona, and Utah drove in to make donations.

I’ve had tons of people ask for an address to send a card/letter to Shay. You can send it to the address below:

LV…

Posted by Prayers for Officer Shay Mikalonis on Saturday, June 13, 2020

Mikalonis also has family in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb apparently known for its pepperoni rolls. In a gesture of support, Dearborn’s Capri Bakery shipped three dozen of the bakery’s pepperoni rolls as well as two unbaked pizzas to Mikalonis’ Las Vegas family June 8, the Review Journal reports.

The bakery sent the gift to the injured police officer’s family after Toni Mullan, the nurse manager of the trauma resuscitation center at University Medical Center where Mikalonis is recovering, alerted the bakery to Mikalonis’ condition.

Members of Mikalonis’s family did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the DCNF.

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