Las Vegas man accused of trying to kill his wife in a car crash

Joel Velasco (Metropolitan Police Department)

Las Vegas police have arrested a man accused of attempting to kill his wife by intentionally causing a car crash Saturday during a domestic dispute.

Police said Joel Velasco, 34, of Las Vegas was booked Thursday at the Clark County Detention Center on felony counts of attempted murder, domestic battery and coercion.

According to an arrest report for Velasco, his estranged wife told police that she was driving with Velasco in the front passenger seat of her car in central Las Vegas when he deliberately caused her to crash the car into a house in “an attempt to kill them both.”

Velasco’s wife told officers the couple recently separated and that at about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Velasco showed up at her apartment demanding a key to her residence. Police said he then assaulted her in a stairwell and attempted to get the woman into her apartment, but she persuaded him to instead allow her to give him a ride to a friend’s residence.

As she drove, she said, he became enraged and told her “we’re gonna die today.”

“Immediately after saying this, Joel reportedly grabbed the steering wheel and abruptly pulled on it (directly towards residences on the north side of the street,)” police said.“Due to Joel’s actions, the vehicle left the roadway, struck a parked vehicle and then struck the front of the residence.”

The address of the house that was struck was blacked out by police in the report. The woman, police said, climbed out of the driver’s side window and fled while screaming for help. Velasco, meanwhile, was observed running from the scene. He was arrested Thursday on Boulder Highway and denied any wrongdoing when interviewed.

Velasco, police said, told officers he was arguing with his spouse in the car when he told her “this is the type of stuff that makes me want to break your face,” police said. Velasco said this, in turn, prompted his wife to start driving recklessly.

“Joel advised that he became concerned that they were going to crash so he attempted to take the keys out of the ignition in an attempt to stop the vehicle,” police said. “However, in attempting this, Joel believes that he may have inadvertently hit the steering wheel with his hand.”

Velasco remained in custody at the detention center Friday morning. A status check on whether Clark County prosecutors will file charges in the case is scheduled for Tuesday in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.