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Tourist Killed in Vegas Shooting

September 9, 2000

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A tourist was killed Friday by a stray bullet in a busy Las Vegas casino as security officers struggled with a robbery suspect who opened fire, police said.

The robbery suspect shot a guard in the stomach as officers tried to handcuff him and fired another round that went through a guard’s pant leg and into the back of the victim, Heather M. Vitarelli, 29, of Maui, authorities said. She had been standing about 35 feet from the struggle.

Police arrested Stephen Mullen, 32, and Michael Frimmel, 31. They are being held on murder charges. The 43-year-old security officer is hospitalized in stable condition.

Officers stopped the two men in Harrah’s casino because they matched the description of men who had stolen a customer’s purse, Police Lt. Wayne Petersen said. Mullen is accused of the shooting.

The gun was stolen in Virginia and both men have prior arrest records involving thefts and drugs, Petersen said.

Authorities did not provide the name for an attorney for Mullen and Frimmel, and the two, who remain jailed at the Clark County Detention Center, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Tom Jenkin, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Las Vegas hotel-casino, said ``we are deeply saddened by this senseless tragedy.″

It was the second fatal shooting in a Las Vegas Strip casino this year. In February, three shots were fired in the Stardust hotel-casino’s sports book. Philip M. Greenspan, 56, was shot in the chest allegedly by an acquaintance and later died.

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