A 26-year-old small-business owner from Irvine was one of the two people killed when a car plowed into a group of pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip this week, authorities said Friday.
Mark Modaressi died late Thursday morning at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he had been listed in critical condition since the Wednesday evening crash in front of the Bally’s and Paris hotel-casinos, the Las Vegas Police Department said.
Modaressi owned Double K Media, a company that operated a website (evolutionm.net) that served enthusiasts of Mitsubishi cars. Family members in Maryland could not be reached for comment Friday, and phone calls to Modaressi’s business went unanswered.
Las Vegas police officials said the driver of the car, Stephen M. Ressa, 27, of Rialto, deliberately rammed his burgundy Buick into the crowd, killing Modaressi and Gordon Kusayanagi, 52, of Hollister, and injuring 12 others.
After his arrest, Ressa allegedly told police that he steered his car into the crowd because they were “staring at him like they were ‘demons.’ ” He saw people with their hands in their pockets and thought they might have guns, according to an arrest report obtained Friday by Associated Press.
“Ressa admitted he became angry at them, and intentionally steered the vehicle toward them,” the report says.
Ressa told police he had a drug and alcohol problem, but said he had used neither Wednesday, Associated Press reported.
“He stated people were trying to kill him, although he could never provide any details,” the report says. “When asked what that meant, he said ‘kill me.’ ”
Ressa is being held without bail at Clark County Jail.
Clark County prosecutor Ed Kane said he would submit a complaint against Ressa on Monday charging him with two counts of murder, 12 counts of attempted murder, 12 counts of battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. “Anything, up to and including the death penalty, remains a possibility.”
Ressa allegedly fled to Nevada on Monday, after beating his mother in her Rialto home and stealing her car, said Rialto police and Ressa’s father. Ressa had been expelled from an Orange County drug rehabilitation facility Sunday, and allegedly became enraged when his mother wouldn’t let him stay permanently at the family home, said Ressa’s father, Michael.
In August, Ressa was sentenced to nine months in jail after he was convicted on drug charges in San Bernardino County, but was allowed to serve part of the time on weekends. He failed to report to jail last weekend, and San Bernardino County sheriff’s officials were preparing a request for an arrest warrant.
A spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff said it appears deputies identified Ressa as a no-show at the jail, and had submitted his file to the court in a process that would generate an arrest warrant. The Sheriff’s Department said the file likely went out by Tuesday, but there’s no evidence that the file had arrived at the court.
“Maybe there’s a delay with the interoffice mail,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said. “It’s not surprising that the warrant hasn’t been issued within this week.”
Tressa Kentner, executive officer for San Bernardino County Superior Court, said Ressa’s previous standing as a nonviolent drug offender “did not make this a high-priority drop-everything-and-get-this-done” type of warrant. “It’s sad, but how do you pick these people out?” Kentner said Friday.
On Sept. 16, Ressa was to have begun the first of 90 weekends he was ordered to serve after an August conviction for possessing marijuana with the intent to sell. He received a 270-day jail term, minus the 91 days he had served while awaiting trial.
“That’s a fairly typical sentence for someone like him who had a lack of a serious felony record,” said San Bernardino County Deputy Dist. Atty. Ben Gonzales.