Chaos of Las Vegas shooting promoted fears of wider attack
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gunshots came so rapidly during the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s modern history that one Las Vegas police officer feared he was facing a fully stocked assault team with tactical gear.
Other officers raced casino-to-casino, debunking reports of multiple shooters and false bomb threats on the Las Vegas Strip while colleagues put themselves in harm’s way to protect wounded and fleeing concert-goers in the Oct. 1 shooting that left 58 people dead, hundreds injured and uncounted others traumatized.
“As I was lying on top of them people were trampling over top of us trying to escape the area,” wrote one officer, identified only as M. Amburgey.
About 2,100 pages of police reports, witness statements and dispatch logs released by police Wednesday under court order paint another partial picture of horror and heroism, chaos and confusion — and shed new detail on how officers and hotel security responded to the worst massacre in modern U.S. history.
It was the third release this month of what Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said could become weekly disbursements of public records sought by media including The Associated Press.
“We saw people get trampled and saw many bleeding people,” wrote a woman who had been working in the VIP area of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, an open-air concert venue with 22,000 people. Witness names were blacked out, so their accounts could not be verified.
More than seven months after the attack, the documents did not answer the question of motive. Police and the FBI said they would not comment on the newly released information and that the shooting is still under investigation.
Authorities have said Stephen Paddock acted alone when he opened fire from his high-rise hotel room into the concert grounds below, and that the attack had no link to international terrorism.
One account raised more questions about when police reached Paddock’s room at the Mandalay Bay resort and why they waited more than an hour to enter it.
“When we got off on the 32nd floor, we heard active shooting still going on,” said a hotel employee who said he accompanied a Las Vegas police officer.
Authorities have said gunfire stopped before police reached the 32nd floor, and that Paddock killed himself before officers reached his door.
In another report, a hairstylist told police that a client with the last name Paddock spoke in the months before the shooting about an open-air concert venue being susceptible to attack. The stylist said she asked a woman she believed to be Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, if she knew what the client was talking about.
“She’s like, ‘Oh, what, about somebody shooting into a crowd and, you know, wanting to hurt a lot of people?’” the stylist told police.
Authorities said Danley was in the Philippines during the shooting. While Danley had been called the only person of interest in the case, Lombardo, the elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said earlier this year that he did not expect criminal charges against her.
Among the tales were officers’ accounts of preparing to face a large-scale attack by multiple shooters.
A patrol officer identified as A. Mitre prayed as he and his partner raced to the scene. Mitre he wanted to run away but reminded himself, “You have to stop the threat, you have to save them.”
“I would’ve bet my paycheck there was an assault team on the ground,” Officer M. Bordoni wrote in his report.
Officers described crouching behind patrol vehicles on the Las Vegas Strip, unable to determine where gunfire was coming from while a vehicle window shattered and bullets hit the ground. A rookie officer, Brady Cook, was wounded in the arm. Detective Casey Clarkson was struck in the neck.
Authorities were so on edge that a woman was detained after presenting a Stratosphere security guard with a box she said was for police. Officers had a drug-sniffing dog check the package to determine it was indeed doughnuts. The woman said she was just trying to perform a “random act of kindness.”
A list of dispatch calls offered a minute-by-minute account of witnesses’ initial reports, with 911 calls beginning at 10:08 p.m. One operator reports being told that people were being trampled and that as many as 20 people had been shot.
Authorities say Paddock, 64, a real estate investor and high-stakes gambler, had amassed an arsenal of nearly two dozen assault-style rifles and numerous high-capacity ammunition magazines in his room where he broke the windows and fired into the crowd.
Police have not yet released 911 calls, and have said they have hundreds of hours more of witness cellphone recordings and footage from officers’ body-worn cameras.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press journalists Michelle L. Price in Las Vegas; Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada; Courtney Bonnell in Phoenix; Brian Eason in Denver; Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles; Martha Bellisle in Seattle; Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City; Terry Tang, Jacques Billeaud and Anita Snow in Phoenix; Mary Hudetz in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona.