Twists, turns, questions in deadly Las Vegas road rage case

Story highlights

  • Erich Milton Nowsch faces three felony charges, including murder
  • Victim's husband says the suspect man threatened to kill his wife and daughter

(CNN)A tense encounter on the road. Gunshots cutting across a neighborhood cul-de-sac in Las Vegas.

That's what ended the life of Tammy Meyers -- the latest face of road rage in America.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions in the case. Here's a look at some of them:

    Who is the suspect, Erich Milton Nowsch?

    Authorities have identified the alleged gunman as Erich Milton Nowsch Jr., who was arrested after a tense standoff Thursday.
    He will face murder and two other felony charges, according to court documents. The other two counts are attempted murder and discharge of a firearm from a vehicle.

    Who is the victim, Tammy Meyers?

    She's a 44-year-old mother of four and grandmother of one, described by her husband as "a beautiful woman" who loved him, "her kids and ... a lot of other people."
    "She never did anything bad to anybody," her husband Robert Meyers said.
    Nor did she put up with nonsense, he added, explaining that "if she was in the Marines, she would have been a master sergeant."
    And, Robert Meyers added, "She hated bullies."

    What was she doing the night of February 12?

    Giving her 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson.
    The two went to the parking lot of a nearby school, where the teen got behind the wheel. Then they switched places, with Tammy Meyers driving back home.

    So she was giving a driving lesson late at night?

    Yes. And Lt. Ray Steiber, a Las Vegas homicide detective who is heading the investigation into Meyers' death, suggested this isn't unusual.
    He notes that Nevada requires first-time drivers "to log nighttime driver hours" to get their license.
    "When I taught my children how to drive, there were certain aspects of driving that they needed to learn," Steiber said. "And one of them was driving at night."

    What happened at and after that driving lesson?

    Nothing much out of the ordinary at the actual lesson. It's what happened afterward that's key.
    As the mother drove her daughter home, she was still giving her daughter a lesson on how to merge lanes and turn properly on a public roadway, when she spotted a "vehicle speeding up rapidly behind her," Steiber said.
    That vehicle, a sedan, pulled up behind her and then to the side of her.
    It was then that Meyers' 15-year-old daughter "reached over while her mom was driving and honked the horn," the detective said.
    "She was getting a driving lesson, so she figured that this person was speeding and ... needed to be corrected," said Steiber. "Right or wrong, she beeped the horn."
    That got the other driver's attention: He pulled in front of the Meyers' car, stopped, then walked back toward the mother and daughter.
    He said something to them -- exactly what hasn't been stated publicly -- but Meyers and her daughter aren't believed to have responded, according to the detective.
    Tammy Meyers' husband told HLN's Nancy Grace that the man threatened to kill his wife and daughter.

    What did Meyers do next?

    She went back home, and told her teenage daughter to go into the house, wake up her brother Brandon and ask him to get into the car. Brandon Meyers, 22, brought a registered gun with him.
    Tammy Meyers was scared and upset, Steiber said of the woman's feelings at the time.
    She then drove back out of her neighborhood to the scene of the confrontation to see if she could find the man she'd clashed with, the detective said.
    Robert Myers said his son and wife were trying to move the car. They didn't want the car to be recognized in front of their home.
    But the other car, described as a gray or silver sedan, saw them, he said.
    Robert Meyers texted: "My wife and son drove away from home, bad guys following. She lost them and upon coming home turned on street, bad guys are right in front.
    "After that, bad guys open fire different location. My wife got home, told her son to take cover and after he saw his mom shot he opened fire three times maybe four."

    Should she have gone after this man?

    That's a judgment call and may depend, in part, on what transpired earlier.
    "Yes, maybe in a make-up world she should have stayed home. Please remember statement from this animal, 'I'm going to kill you and your daughter,' " said Robert Myers.
    Steiber said only that police don't think Tammy Meyers did anything wrong criminally.
    Her husband, who was out of state at the time, has said, "My wife paid the ultimate price for it because of the mistakes she made."

    Did she find him again?

    Las Vegas detectives have given a slightly different version of events than Meyers' husband, saying the mother drove home to pick up her armed son and went back out to look for the suspect and his car.
    According to Steiber, "at one point Mrs. Meyers was following what we consider a suspect vehicle. And then, at another point, they broke apart and Mrs. Meyers went home."
    The detective said that the second encounter happened at least 5 minutes after Meyers went home the first time and everything unfolded "within a couple blocks" of each other.

    So Meyers arrived home (a second time) -- then what happened?

    She and her son got out of her car. Then, a sedan pulled into her cul-de-sac from which someone started firing.
    Meyers' son, Brandon, shot back, Steiber said. The car with the shooter then backed out and drove away.
    It was then that Brandon Meyers discovered "his mother, who was standing off to the side and behind him, had been struck by gunfire," Steiber said.
    It's right after that, at 11:22 p.m., that relatives and neighbors first alerted police.

    What about Meyers' son? He opened fire too, right?

    No one is denying that Brandon Meyers used his gun. Still, Steiber said that police believe a bullet from the sedan driver's gun -- not that of her son -- killed Tammy Meyers.
    As the standoff unfolded Thursday, the victim's husband approached reporters.
    "Are you all happy? You made my wife look like an animal ... and my son. There's the animal, a block away. Are you happy?" Robert Meyers said, obviously agitated.
    Speaking at a vigil Tuesday, he said "There were mistakes. ... But this particular mistake was made to keep a bigger mistake from happening."
    "My son is not an animal," Robert Meyers said. "My son is a hero in my book."
    The 22-year-old says he was just trying to protect his family.
    "Everyone can think what they have to think," Brandon Meyers said. "I did it for a reason, and I'd do it for anyone I loved."

    How is the Meyers family doing?

    They're hurting. A week after the shooting, Tammy Meyers still hadn't been buried. But loved ones did hold the candlelight vigil, one that Robert Meyers said was meant "to show my respects to my wife and to let her kids get some of this grief off (their chests) and heal."
    "It's going to take a lot more than this to do it," he added.

    Has that family been criticized?

    Yes. Robert Meyers alluded to such criticism -- specifically related to the difference between the family's initial accounts and the timeline later related by police -- in a Facebook post.
    "I was told one version of what happened to my wife ... and I never said anything different than (what I was) told," he wrote late Wednesday night. "If all of you people ... think I was a fraud and lied about facts, I'm truly sorry."
    In the same Facebook post, Meyers said all money raised for the family via GoFundMe -- an account that Meyers said a friend started -- will be returned. The related GoFundMe page has been shut down.

    Did the suspect and Meyers know each other?

    But Robert Meyers told reporters that his family knew the accused gunman.
    "We know this boy. He knew where I lived," he said.

    What's the status of the investigation?

    Calling it an "open and ongoing investigation," Steiber said authorities are still piecing together exactly what happened and who is responsible.
    Police are using video and other evidence to try and get "an accurate timeline and an accurate depiction of what occurred," Steiber said.
    "That takes time."
    The detective did say that authorities don't have any reason to believe that this incident is tied to anything else.
    Police believe it was "an isolated incident involving road rage that ended in a tragic murder," he said.