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UNLV Police Confronted Shooting Suspect in Deadly Shootout

Director of University Police Services Adam Garcia said two UNLV detectives immediately engaged the suspect in a “shootout” on campus, and the suspect was shot.

Police are seen at the scene of a shooting on the UNLV campus on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Madeline Carter/Las Vegas Review-Journal/TNS)
Madeline Carter/TNS
(TNS) LAS VEGAS — At least three victims were shot and killed Wednesday on the UNLV campus in an attack that ended after the gunman’s death, authorities said.

In an evening press conference, Sheriff Kevin McMahill provided a timeline of the shooting, saying that the Metropolitan Police Department first received reports of the shooting at 11:45 a.m.

UNLV police then responded to the shooter outside Beam Hall, McMahill said. The building is home of the Lee Business School, and included several laboratories and classrooms, according to UNLV’s website.

After the shooting began on the fourth floor of the building, authorities said, UNLV police confronted the suspect, who died during an exchange of gunfire.

Police would not release the identity of the suspect Wednesday night until next of kin are notified, he said. Details about the weapon used by the shooter were also not shared.

McMahill shared an update about a victim previously reported to be in critical condition who was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, and said they were now “stable.”

Four other people were taken to nearby hospitals for panic attacks, he said.

“No student should have to fear pursuing their dreams on a college campus,” McMahill said.

McMahill said lessons learned during 1 October helped first responders react quickly to the shooting and prevent further loss of life.

“What happened today is a heinous, unforgivable crime, but I want you to know something: It’s a crime that we train for each and every day,” McMahill said.

Director of University Police Services Adam Garcia said two UNLV detectives immediately engaged the suspect in a “shootout” on campus, and the suspect was shot.

Garcia said that UNLV would remain closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Whether the campus would reopen next week remained uncertain.

At least three people from the shooting were taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, according to Chris Fisher, the hospital’s trauma medical director.

“Once we were notified of the UNLV incident, we activated our mass casualty protocol and had staff prepared to treat many more patients than we received,” Fisher said in a video statement.

At around 3 p.m., police blockades at driveways into Sunrise had cleared, allowing vehicles to pull in. A group of about 15 first responders gathered near the ambulance-trauma entrance.

The hospital’s emergency room was opened to all patients, Fisher added.

“Our hearts go out to the community of UNLV and to those patients and their families and to the greater Las Vegas community at large,” Fisher said. “At Sunrise, we are prepared to take care of additional patients if need be.”

Sheriff Kevin McMahill said there was no further threat for the public. Victims were transported to local hospitals.

The university on its X account asked students to continue to shelter in place.

“Police ask that you continue to please shelter in place. Police are evacuating buildings one at a time. This remains an active investigation. The suspect has been contained.”

Major roads are shut down in and around the UNLV campus. Motorists should avoid the area.

“It will take some time but we will be transporting those who are on campus to the Convention Center to be reunified and to provide assistance,” the county said.

Police on campus responded at 11:46 a.m. to a “confirmed active shooter” at Beam Hall. UNLV alerted students and staff to the shooter:

“UPDSouth – UNLV UPD Alert – UNLV University Police responding to confirmed active shooter in BEH. This is not a test. RUN-HIDE-FIGHT,” a text from University police said.

Alejandra, a 26-year-old undergraduate student, was in Beam Hall when the alarms went off. She said the students started going out calmly, but at the stairs she saw people running up the stairs.

She said they then saw police and went through the emergency exit of the building and started running.

Once she was getting out of the building she heard some shots. She said that it was several but wasn’t sure how many. She then ran to Thomas & Mack Center, where some workers let her in one of the tents in the parking lot.

After a little bit she decided to not stay there and moved away from the area and she walked toward the Strip, where she was met by a friend.

Around 2:45 p.m., Metro posted on X that students at Paradise Professional Development School on Cottage Grove Avenue were on a “soft lockdown. They are safe.”

Police announced on X around 4 p.m. that students at the elementary school were on the way to Orr Middle School to be reunited with their families.

‘I was terrified’

Two student journalists with the Scarlet & Gray Free Press, the UNLV campus newspaper, were in the Student Union when the shooting began.

Editor-in-Chief Allister Dias and News Editor Shainna Alipon were in the third-floor newsroom when Dias heard sirens outside.

“I was working at my desk and I heard like a series of sirens outside, I think it was like one or two cop cars, and I go to the window just to see what it is and I saw kids running across the parking lot,” Dias said. “I’m thinking, wait, what’s going on?”

Dias estimated about 50 to 60 students were running east across the Student Union parking lot and across Maryland Parkway to another parking area.

“So I go to the balcony next to the Scarlet and Gray office and I just hear very audible gunshots, like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop so we didn’t get the (University Police Department) alert yet but I ran back to the office I grabbed Shainna, who was the only other person in the office,” he said.

Dias and Alipon ran down a hallway to a stairway leading to the front of the Student Union. From there, they exited the building and ran across the parking lot and Maryland Parkway.

“I got her out, got her evacuated and then I got her out the SU and FDH like that little space in between. I just heard more audible gunshots and they were very very close they were like do, do, do, do, do, do and I was terrified of course but I got Shainna out I got her across the street on Maryland. The whole area was completely blocked off by cops. When I got them out, I heard a few more gunshots on my way across the parking lot. This was before police, from what I had seen, had gone into the buildings and everything. But yeah, I’m assuming those shots were aimed at students, unfortunately. And I got across the street. I was able to get footage of the police SWAT team entering the student union because the shooter had entered there.”

Dias believes the shooting started at the Frank and Estella Beam Hall, home of the Lee Business College. He said there are classrooms on the building’s lower floors and professors’ offices in the upper floors. Dias said he was scheduled to attend a class there Wednesday, but ended up not going.

Around 12:20 p.m., university police added that there were additional shots fired at the Student Union:

"UPDSouth – UNLV UPD Alert – UNLV University Police responding to additional report of shots fired in the Student Union, evacuate the area, RUN-HIDE-FIGHT."

Three students who were on the second level of the Beam building told CNN that they had sheltered in place for about 30 minutes until being escorted out by police. They heard multiple gunshots and said that a window had been shot out.

Truman Rowley, an assistant professor of accounting, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he was on the fourth floor of the Lee Business School when he heard four to five shots.

In the moment, he wanted to believe the loud bangs were balloons that he saw in the building that had popped.

But he quickly turned to run to the stairs of the building and shouted “Active shooter!”

He continued shouting as he ran down the stairwell, stopping at each floor, until he fled the business school into the Student Union to shelter in place where he thought he would be safe.

But then he heard additional shots coming from within the Student Union where he was barricaded in an office on the second floor.

‘A fear came over me’

Small crowds gathered on sidewalks at Maryland Parkway and Tropicana Avenue as armored police vehicles drove toward the college campus and handfuls of students walked away from their school.

“I was frozen,” Damalia Gutierrez said as she waited for her niece to come down the street. “I mean, just like a panic, a fear just came over me. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and what I was texting.”

Gutierrez and many other family members and friends rushed to the scene as soon as they learned of the shooting. Gutierrez received a text from her niece.

After about two hours of waiting, Gutierrez embraced her niece, Nyomi Page, after Page let go of a hug from her mother.

Page said she was in class when the shooting happened. She heard people crying as the students inside watched under the door for any footsteps.

“It just got more and more scary realizing I was two buildings away from the shooter,” Page said.

Teddrick Nelson was returning film equipment when he heard the shooting happen in a nearby building.

“I heard the gunshots and then the people screaming and then I saw people just rush out of the building,” Nelson said. “On the loudspeaker they said ‘There’s an active shooter, please leave.’”

Nelson ran out to the campus parking lot on Maryland Parkway, then kept running when he heard shots coming from the student union.

Both Nelson and Page said they’d never expected to be involved in something like this.

“I never ever ever thought in a million years I’d have to experience something like this,” Page said. “To actually be experiencing something you see in the news.”

While both students said their feelings were still raw, having just gotten off campus, Nelson said “I don’t think I’ll ever get the sound of those screams or those gunshots out of my head.”

‘Unimaginably sad and shocking day’

President Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that he had directed federal law enforcement to assist with investigations related to the shooting, and condemned gun violence across the United States including in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, where six people were killed Tuesday.

“This year alone, our nation has experienced more than 600 mass shootings, and approximately 40,000 deaths due to gun violence,” Biden said. “This is not normal, and we can never let it become normal.”

In a letter to the Nevada State University community posted on X, President DeRionne Pollard wrote: “This tragic event on the campus of our sister institution UNLV is deeply painful as we recognize that a threat to one is a threat to us all. We are reminded, once again, that our community is not immune to the violence we see around the world.”

She wrote that Nevada State was closed for the remainder of the day “out of an abundance of caution and recognition that resources are focused on the emergency situation at UNLV.”

“There is a mutuality to our existence, and @NevadaStateU is deeply connected to UNLV,” Pollard wrote. “We send healing energy and stand ready to support our friends, family, and colleagues in any way possible. On this day and on those to come, we know we are family.”

University of Nevada, Reno, President Brian Sandoval wrote on X: “This is an unimaginably sad and shocking day for our entire state with the news that there are multiple victims from an active shooting incident on the UNLV campus. Although we do not know many of the details associated with this tragic news at the present time, our heart is broken for the students, faculty and staff of UNLV and the community of Las Vegas.”

Both presidents said there was no threat to their campuses, and they provided information for students and employees about mental health services.

Elementary school reading teacher Vicki Kreidel, who serves as president of the National Education Association of Southern Nevada, wrote on X that her daughter, a senior anthropology major, was at UNLV for class.

“After class, something told them to just head home,” Kreidel wrote. “Typically, they hang out in the Student Union. My heart breaks for all the people trying to reach loved ones right now.”

At the convention center, Cynthia Castro, a 21-year-old history and anthropology major, described being in a classroom near Beam Hall when she received a text message alert about shots fired.

“Everybody goes silent, and we get an actual notification that there was an active shooter,” she said. “The professor turned off the lights and we just kind of sat there. I could already hear people tearing up and crying. I could see everyone messaging their loved ones.

Males in the class removed their belts in an effort to barricade the classroom door, she said.

“So it was just them standing, holding their belts, like pulling, hoping the doors wouldn’t open,” she said.

The students were evacuated from the classroom at about 1:30 p.m., and taken by bus to the convention center, she said.

Vigil canceled

University Medical Center officials said in a statement that the hospital had not received any patients from the shooting.

UMC wrote that it remained open to patients and visitors, and “we are prepared to care for the victims of this tragic shooting.”

“As a precaution, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers are staged outside of all UMC entrances to ensure the safest possible environment for our patients, visitors and staff,” a spokesperson wrote.

Roads immediately surrounding University Medical Center’s emergency room were blocked by police for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon, but the majority of officers left the area shortly after 2:30 p.m. According to a statement from the hospital, no victims of the shooting were transported to UMC, but police were stationed outside the hospital as a precaution.

A candlelight vigil that was planned for Wednesday night at Allegiant Stadium to honor fallen Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Michael Abbate and Alberto Felix has been canceled.

(Review-Journal staff reporters Rick Velotta, David Wilson, Julie Wooten-Greener, Ricardo Torres-Cortez, Jimmy Romo, Mark Credico, Taylor Lane, Jeff Burbank and Katelyn Newberg contributed to this story.)

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