Lawyer compares 2014 arrest at Vegas hotel to shooting case
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The arrest of a man in 2014 with multiple weapons in an upper-floor room at a Las Vegas Strip resort should have led to tightened hotel security and prevented a shooting last October from the same hotel that killed 58 people and injured hundreds, a lawyer in a negligence lawsuit said Friday.
“An incident like this, with someone bringing assault rifles and setting up essentially a sniper’s position in the Mandalay Bay,” attorney Robert Eglet said. “For them to say Oct. 1 was unforeseeable is just patently untrue.”
A court filing Thursday compared the November 2014 arrest of Kye Aaron Dunbar in a 24th-floor room at the Mandalay Bay with the shooting last year by gunman Stephen Paddock from a 32nd-floor suite into a concert crowd below.
Eglet cited a document in the Dunbar case that said one assault-style rifle found in the room booked by his wife had a tripod and a telescopic sight and was pointed toward a window overlooking the Las Vegas Strip.
Debra DeShong, spokeswoman for hotel owner MGM Resorts International, provided a transcript of Dunbar’s January 2016 sentencing and characterized the case as “one felon violating parole by having a firearm,” not planning a mass murder.
“The judge clearly indicates that he did not believe the individual planned to use the weapon as part of a violent crime,” DeShong said.
Dunbar, 32, from Bakersfield, California, pleaded guilty in September 2015 to a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He told a judge at sentencing that he brought guns to Las Vegas to use for target shooting during a vacation with his wife and her sister.
His lawyer in the case, James Gallo, argued that the rifle with the tripod was on the floor, not pointing out the window.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon in Las Vegas called the positioning of the gun “unfortunate,” noted that Dunbar’s prior conviction was a fraud case instead of a violent felony, and said he did not believe Dunbar was involved in terrorism. He sentenced Dunbar to 40 months in federal prison.
Gallo denied in an email Friday that his client planned any harm. He said Dunbar had the weapons in his room “for safekeeping and cleaning” after using them at an indoor firing range. Gallo acknowledged that as a felon Dunbar wasn’t supposed to have guns.
“From what I know about October 1, I would say the facts are completely different,” Gallo said.
Paddock, 64, a high-stakes video-poker player whose room was provided free by the hotel, spent several days bringing luggage full of assault-style weapons to a room where he spent 10 minutes unleashing rapid-fire barrages with modified rifles into the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert audience of about 22,000 people, according to police. He killed himself before officers reached him.
Authorities have said they don’t know Paddock’s motive, but that the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s modern history had no link to international terrorism.
In Dunbar’s case, a Mandalay Bay housekeeping employee noticed the guns and summoned supervisors before federal agents arrived and seized three pistols, a bolt-action rifle and the two assault-style weapons.
Mandalay Bay bans weapons, and attorneys for the company argue that the Paddock shooting was unprecedented and “unforeseeable as a matter of law.”
In the document filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, attorneys for plaintiffs including wounded festival attendee Rachel Sheppard, of Tehachapi, California, suggest they know of 28 more “suspicious situations” that they allege hotel officials are “intent on hiding” from victims, the public and courts.
Eglet declined to provide details about those reports.
The Sheppard lawsuit is one of several filed in various courts by multiple people affected by the Oct. 1 shooting.