National guard commander sees tragic irony in Nevada deputy’s slaying after Afghanistan tour

By Ken Ritter, AP
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slain Nevada deputy was just back from Afghanistan

LAS VEGAS — Ian Deutch survived a recent tour of duty in Afghanistan, identifying Taliban targets for artillery strikes. But he didn’t make it through his second day back on the job as a rural Nevada sheriff’s deputy.

Deutch was gunned down Monday by a man wielding an assault rifle in a casino parking lot about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. The death of the decorated Nevada Army National Guardsman and law enforcement veteran left those who knew him stunned Tuesday.

“The irony of spending a year overseas in a combat zone and then to come back and have this happen is, you know, tragic,” said Lt. Col. Scott Cunningham, a Las Vegas resident and commanding officer of Deutch’s guard unit.

Deutch, 27, a staff sergeant, and his older brother, Richard Deutch, a master sergeant, were among 752 soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 221st Calvary who returned home in March. Some members of the Wildhorse squadron suffered casualties but none was killed during their assignment in Afghanistan’s Laghman province.

Ian Deutch was a meritorious service medal winner, a squad leader and a forward artillery observer who identified Taliban targets for artillery strikes outside combat outpost Nagil, Cunningham said.

“He’s one of those guys, his full-time job is a police officer and his part-time job is a soldier,” Cunningham told The Associated Press. “He’s always been out there trying to help people and make a contribution to society.

“What a first-rate guy he was. What a sense of loss this is.”

Deutch’s mother told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she was devastated by her son’s death.

“He was finally safe. In our country. And somebody here kills him,” Suzy Deutch said.

Deutch’s sister, Samantha Deutch of Las Vegas, said her brother was married, with a 5-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old stepson.

Richard Deutch is also a Nye County sheriff’s deputy, but had not yet returned to work and was not involved in the shooting, Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said.

“His brother is devastated,” she said. “They’d been together as deputies and as soldiers.”

Ian Deutch was driving with a field training officer when they responded after gunfire was first reported Monday at a home a short distance from Terrible’s Lakeside Casino & RV Park, DeMeo said. Deputies diverted to the casino after the shooter’s girlfriend told police dispatchers she was seeking safety there. The woman was not wounded.

DeMeo called the shooting that killed Deutch “an unprovoked attack.”

“The deputies just pulled up. He was just getting out of the driver’s side when the guy opened fire,” the sheriff told AP.

DeMeo identified the slain gunman as James Lacy Chaffin, 30.

The other deputy who arrived with Deutch in a marked sheriff’s department pickup truck escaped injury. A third deputy arriving in another vehicle fired four shots, killing the gunman, DeMeo said.

Deutch was wearing a bulletproof vest, but DeMeo said at least one shot from the assault rifle pierced his body armor. He was flown by medical helicopter to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he underwent surgery but died late Monday.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons has ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff Saturday during Deutch’s funeral services.

DeMeo said the slain deputy was a six-year sheriff’s department veteran and a police K9 handler in the department. Nye County has 108 sworn deputies a county of more than 18,000 square miles — almost as large as the states of New Hampshire and Vermont combined.

“He loved his family, he loved his job, he loved the military and he loved his dog,” said DeMeo, himself a former K9 handler.

“I told him last week, ‘I would clone you if I could.’ He laughed,” DeMeo said. “This is having a big impact on everyone he worked with.”

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