Published On: Wed, Jan 6th, 2016

Nevada shooting death of ‘California vagabond’ Neil Gandler is ‘wrong place wrong time’ case

Some reports called Neil Gandler a “vagabond” as the California appears to have ended up in the “wrong place at the wrong time” according to authorities investigating his death.

Gandler, 42, lived in his car, traveling from town to town, boasting a life of modesty, his friends say. On Dec. 29 that all ended as Gandler was shot and killed in the parking lot of a Nevada 24 Hour Fitness parking lot as he slept in his car.

The Las Vegas club, near the intersection of Rainbow Boulevard and Alta Drive, was the scene of a thwarted robbery as Kyle Staats and Megan Hippie, came across Gandler’s car by chance while out on a spree of car burglaries, Hippie told police at the time of her arrest.

Kyle Staats

Kyle Staats

“Don’t do it” appear to have been Gandler’s last known words, according to a Las Vegas police arrest report.

Police say Staats pulled the trigger anyway.

Staats, 27, and Hippie, 19, were out burglarizing vehicles when they came across Gandler, Hippie told detectives. “Did you see that?” Hippie recalls Staats telling her. “The guy is sleeping in his car.”

Staats made a U-turn and parked next to Gandler, the report says. Staats, a .40-caliber gun in hand, knocked on Gandler’s window.

Hippie said she heard Gandler’s plea moments before a shot rang out, striking him in the torso, according to the Clark County coroner’s office. Gandler’s car, with its window shattered, rolled onto a parking median.

“I think I got him,” Staats told Hippie, according to police. They drove away. They went on to do more burglaries and at some point stole a car.

The couple were arrested Jan. 2, according to police.

They were booked into the Clark County Detention Center where they both face charges of first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery. Staats faces an additional charge of possession of a stolen vehicle.

Gandler, a tech blogger and entrepreneur from Palo Alto, Calif., was invited to CES, the giant consumer electronics show, and had been in town for at least a few days, his friend said in a phone interview with the Review Journal on Tuesday.

“He had several gym memberships. This was his strategy.” A strategy to visit metropolitan areas, find a gym in each city, park there and then ride his bicycle around. Call it your own public transportation” he said, adding that Gandler ate well at restaurants every day, visited friends and traveled the country like he wanted to.



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About the Author

- Sierra is a copy writer for The Dispatch, focusing primarily on pop culture and stories linked to the latest Christian headlines, both in the U.S. and overseas.

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