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70-year-old killed in driveway was a family man, ‘people person’

The family of a Las Vegas retiree shot to death in his driveway in December said they are committed to seeking justice for the two murder suspects.

On the night of Dec. 27, Alan Bondelid, 70, pulled his car into the driveway of his southeast Las Vegas home near Mountain Vista Street and East Tropicana Avenue, Las Vegas police have said. Police said a man emerged out of the darkness and demanded Bondelid’s wallet at gunpoint. The gunman shot Bondelid before he could get out of his car or even hand over his billfold containing $8.

“I asked the police, I said, ‘I don’t understand, if the guy asked for his wallet, and he was standing there with the gun, why wouldn’t Alan give him his wallet?’” Bondelid’s wife, Tina, said. “And the cop said, ‘He didn’t have time.’”

Homicide detectives now say it appears Bondelid was followed home from a bar by two people he didn’t know, then shot for no reason in an attempted robbery. Police on Dec. 28 arrested a Las Vegas couple, Otis Buchanan, 36, and Dalana Smedley, 31, both of Las Vegas, on murder charges.

The crime initially left Bondelid’s family searching for answers as to why the gunman could be so cruel in such a senseless crime. Bondelid’s son, Ethan, said the family has chosen to drop that pursuit, instead seeking justice while remembering the wonderful man his father was.

“We are focused on celebrating his life,” Ethan Bondelid said. “If we hang up on the (questions of why), there is no solution. There’s no way to answer it.”

A family man lost

Tina Bondelid said her husband was a native of Washington state and the retired owner of a carpeting business. His children said he worked long hours to provide for his family when they lived in Idaho, then Iowa, before retiring to Las Vegas about 10 years ago.

“He was a people person,” said his daughter, Vanessa Doren, 43. “Very social. Anytime there was a festival, he wanted to go. He loved to have people over all the time. He knew everyone. He was so social.”

Tina, Ethan and Vanessa each said Alan Bondelid was a committed family man. When Ethan and his sister were children, their dad would take them on ski trips and camping outings and ride horses in the mountains of Idaho.

“I’ve really remembered how he went out of his way to take us to have experiences in terms of all the stuff we did growing up,” Ethan Bondelid said. “Very active. All the mountain stuff we did over our childhoods. It was really, really important to him – it was who he was.”

Upon retiring, Alan Bondelid set about enjoying life to the fullest. He often dressed in colorful Hawaiian shirts and shorts and wore sandals. His backyard, featuring a pool and a hot tub and pirate flags, was a place where friends were always welcome.

“Later in life, especially here in Vegas, his life was a big party,” Ethan Bondelid said. “Always social, always out meeting people, Anybody and everybody he came across could be a friend. There wasn’t really any kind of pretentiousness to him whatsoever in terms of who was welcome. The fridge in the garage was stock full of beer, and it was open territory for anyone who came over.”

Followed home from bar

On the night of the slaying, police said, Alan spent his evening at Stadium Saloon and Laundry, 6016 Boulder Highway. A police report in the case said he encountered a man and woman at the bar and that there appeared to be a brief discussion among the three. Bondelid’s family said Bondelid was not arguing with the strangers. Instead, they suspect the couple Bondelid talked to were looking for an easy mark. Video surveillance gathered by police from the bar showed Bondelid driving out of the parking lot and heading home, followed by a purple Scion with front-end damage containing the two strangers he had just encountered in the bar.

Home surveillance video gathered from Bondelid’s residence and others on his street showed Bondelid pulling into his driveway, followed closely by the Scion with noticeable front-end damage. A gunman with distinctive clothing approached and demanded his wallet, according to the video surveillance. Bondelid started to say “Oh you’re the … guy from the …” when he was fatally shot. The gunman then punched and kicked Bondelid as he lay dying in his driveway.

Police found one 9 mm cartridge case on the driveway and one bullet in the driver’s seat of Bondelid’s car. The Scion was later located by police back in the parking lot of the Stadium Saloon and Laundry around 12:45 a.m. the following day. Police performed a traffic stop on the vehicle and found four people inside. Two were identified as the people who Bondelid previously interacted with at the bar, Buchanan and Smedley. Buchanan, police said, was wearing similar clothing as the gunman captured on video surveillance at Bondelid’s home. A 9 mm handgun was found in the vehicle.

Court appearance

Buchanan and Smedley both appeared in court Tuesday morning before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joseph Sciscento. Multiple times throughout the hearing, Buchanan strained his tattooed neck to his left, seemingly to get the attention of Smedley, who never made eye contact with him.

They each waived their right to a preliminary hearing within 15 days. Their preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 10. At one point, Smedley became emotional when she realized she would have to wait for another hearing to see if she would be released on bail.

“Oh, God,” she told Sciscento, crying.

“I want you to have counsel that’s ready and prepared to go forward; rushing through it is not going to help you,” Sciscento told the pair.

Both Buchanan’s defense attorney, Clark Patrick, and Smedley’s, Patricia Erickson, declined to comment on the case but said their clients would plead not guilty. Buchanan and Smedley each are charged with open murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Bondelid’s family, meanwhile, has been coping with waves of grief since the shooting.

The family held a gathering and dinner over the weekend in which Alan’s friends and loved ones flew into town.

Trying to make sense of the shooting is impossible, the family said.

“It was literally just a chance passing, and he was an easy target,” Doren said. “There are bad people everywhere. That’s how it is.”

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter. Staff writer Briana Erickson contributed to this report.