Las Vegas Authorities Say Security Guard Was Shot Before Gunman Targeted Crowd

Oct 10, 2017
Originally published on October 10, 2017 8:27 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Las Vegas police have revised their timeline of last week's mass shooting. Initially they had said that the gunman shot a security guard at the Mandalay Bay Resort after he had opened fire on concertgoers. Now they say that's wrong. They say the security guard was shot six minutes before the gunman started firing his guns out his hotel window.

NPR's Leila Fadel has been speaking with the Clark County Sheriff's Department and joins us now. And Leila, this sounds like a pretty significant revision. The security guard came under heavy gunfire, we're told - police say some 200 rounds before the mass shooting. Tell us more about this.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, here's what we know. Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos - he was responding to a door alarm on the 32nd floor. And it wasn't the shooter's door. He gets up there, and then he comes under fire. He takes gunfire to the leg and is wounded. Now initially, like you said, we were told this happened before the gunman opened fire, a barrage of gunfire outside the window of the Mandalay Bay onto the country music festival. Now we know the gunman was hurt well before - about six minutes before this all started. That wounded security guard notified security at the Mandalay Bay. But the big question is, when did the police find out about that initial shooting?

Now, yesterday at the press conference, I did ask the sheriff that question, and he said police found out about the guard when officers arrived in the hallway about 20 minutes later. And today I tried to clarify that with Undersheriff Kevin McMahill in an interview at KNPR in Las Vegas. I asked when law enforcement knew about the shooting of the security guard at the Mandalay Bay and if there was a major break in communication.

KEVIN MCMAHILL: When specifically did they know? That remains to be a very, very difficult thing for us to put forward, which is why the sheriff indicated that on Friday we'll provide that information to the public because everybody wants to know, including us, when did you know?

FADEL: Now, McMahill says they're going through monumental amounts of tape, from dispatch tape to security dispatch and maintenance tape from the hotel, police body camera video. And the timeline could even change again. Now, we looked at the police dispatch tape, and the first time an active shooter is mentioned is just after 10:06, which is just over a minute after the mass shooting has started into the crowd. And the first time the security guard is mentioned is about 19 minutes later. Now, McMahill really stressed they're not trying to hide anything. But as the investigation goes on, they're finding out new things.

SIEGEL: As I understand it, one thing they found out is that the gunman also targeted fuel tanks at the airport. Did McMahill give you any details about that? Was this part of a larger plan?

FADEL: Yes. McMahill said the gunman was purposely targeting jet fuel tanks from the adjoining room in that same suite. And he was apparently shooting from the two different rooms from different vantage points onto the crowd and the jet fuel tanks, which is why McMahill says that people might have thought there were two shooters. Now, here's McMahill again speaking about when the shots were fired on those tanks.

MCMAHILL: It could have been before. It could have been after. But we do know there are different calibers, different weapons that were used in each room. And certainly it could have been done ahead of time to create even more chaos, even more confusion.

SIEGEL: And as far as we know, law enforcement hasn't found any suicide note, no manifesto of any kind. They found a piece of paper in the shooter's hotel room, but that really doesn't give us any more clues about why he did this, does it?

FADEL: No. That wasn't a suicide note. It actually had numbers on it. And I asked McMahill what those numbers could have been.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MCMAHILL: Our speculation is that it was ranges to how far he was shooting towards the crowd, different parts of the crowd as well as the fuel tanks.

SIEGEL: Any word as to how he actually got all those weapons into the hotel room without being spotted?

FADEL: He carried them up in suitcases. This is a man that checked into the Mandalay Bay almost a week before the attack actually occurred on September 25. And that's another change in the timeline. Originally law enforcement believed he checked in on September 28, and actually, he didn't. He checked in days before. Now, McMahill says that he carried the bags up one or two at a time. They saw this on images that were captured, and they know this from the cameras. So it didn't really trigger suspicion that the shooter had 13 or 14 extremely heavy bags up in his room.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Leila Fadel in Las Vegas. Thanks.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.