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CHP officer killed trying to stop Las Vegas Strip vehicle theft was groom-to-be

An off-duty California Highway Patrol officer about to head home from his bachelor party was killed and his brother-in-law was severely injured when they tried to stop a man from stealing the officer's pickup truck at a Las Vegas Strip hotel, authorities said Monday.

Jesus Manuel Magdaleno Jr. ran after the pickup, shouted that he was a CHP officer and jumped into the back cargo area with his relative, Felix Brandon Cruz, while the thief sped wildly away from the valet area at the Flamingo hotel-casino where they had been loading luggage, according to a police report.

A witness on the 17th floor of a nearby casino heard the commotion and told police she saw the white 2009 Ford F150 accelerate away from the Strip, mow down construction cones and speed through red lights on an Interstate 15 overpass before it collided with a 2001 Ford Escape SUV and slammed into a traffic signal pole about 11 a.m. Sunday.

"A vehicle is being stolen. His friend is in the bed of the vehicle," Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Steiber said of Magdaleno. "He runs to the aid of his friend who is in danger. He gave his life for someone else."

Magdaleno and Cruz were thrown from the bed of the truck.

Magdaleno, 33, of Visalia, was killed. He was an eight-year CHP veteran who had been in the Visalia area for three years, the department said. He was due to be married in September.

Cruz, 31, was in extremely critical condition Monday surrounded by family and friends at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, authorities said.

The driver, James Robert Montgomery, 29, of Tustin, Calif., was hospitalized with injuries after the crash and booked into the Clark County jail on murder, kidnapping, auto theft and other felony charges pending an initial court appearance.

Three people in the SUV were treated for minor injuries, police Officer Laura Meltzer said.

It was the latest in a series of violent incidents on the Strip, including a shooting one week earlier involving an off-duty Las Vegas police detective and Saul Villegas, 27, of Bellflower, Calif., outside the Excalibur hotel-casino.

Villegas is accused of attempted auto theft for allegedly getting into the detective's vehicle and refusing to get out.

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