More than 1,000 Las Vegas Valley residents showed up at a fundraiser Wednesday to benefit the family of a Las Vegas police detective killed in a car crash, leaving event organizers and loved ones of the late officer awestruck at the public support.
“Metro, our firefighters, these guys lay it on the line every day,” Las Vegan Jay Billings said during the nearly day-long fundraiser in honor of Justin Terry, 45. “I’m here to show them the respect they deserve.”
The Injured Police Officers Fund organized the barbecue fundraiser to benefit Terry’s family after he was killed when a large steel construction beam fell onto his police vehicle on U.S. Highway 95 near the 215 Beltway on June 10.
Minddie Lloyd, of the police fund, said the non-profit ordered 1,500 t-shirts to sell in the parking lot of Nevada Coin Mart on Jones Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. By Wednesday afternoon, they only had 48 shirts left. The event also ran out of food due to the heavy turnout.
“The support has been amazing,” Terry’s sister, Lisa Terry, said. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through these last few days without all of this support. From the very beginning, its been there. They’ve done so much for us and our family, just to make such a horrible time a little bit easier on us. That’s why we wanted to be sure… to come by and as a family say thank you so much for all of this.”
Terry’s father, Hal, offered similar remarks.
“The police department, the community, it has been phenomenal,” he said. ” There are no words for our family to express the outpouring of love for Justin.”
Mike and Gayle Minton, of North Las Vegas, appeared at the fundraiser to offer their support. Mike Minton is a retired Long Beach, California, police officer. His wife’s first husband was a West Sacramento police officer killed in the line of duty in 1990.
“I’m really proud to be here and to see that Las Vegas and all these people care so much,” Gayle Minton said.
Christa Swanger’s husband, Jason Swanger, was a Las Vegas officer who died from COVID-19 nearly a year ago. She volunteered at the IPOF event on Wednesday.
“The IPOF was there for me,” Swanger said. “They did a fundraiser here as well for Jason so I want to be there for the Terry family as much as possible.”
Wednesday’s huge turnout unfolded as the Nevada Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash. The steel beam that fell onto Terry’s police vehicle was part of the Nevada Department of Transportation’s Centennial Bowl construction project, and authorities said it tumbled onto Terry’s police car after it was struck by a tractor trailer hauling an excavator.
“A crossbeam just fell down on top of a car,” one 911 caller is heard telling a dispatcher in the moments after the tragedy.
“What do you mean a crossbeam?” a dispatcher asks.
“They are doing a construction and a crossbeam just fell down,” the caller responds.
Another caller mentions the fact that a vehicle “with some kind of machinery on it” struck the beam.
“He hit it hard,” the caller said.
Contact Glenn Puit by email at email@example.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Photographer K.M. Cannon contributed to this report.