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Two security guards shot to death at hotel-casino in Las Vegas; suspect in critical condition

Two security guards shot to death at hotel-casino in Las Vegas; suspect in critical condition
Metropolitan Police Department officers were called sometime after 6:30 a.m. Saturday to investigate reports of a shooting at Arizona Charlie's hotel-casino in Las Vegas. (Rio Lacanlale / Associated Press)

Two security guards were shot dead inside a hotel room at a Las Vegas hotel-casino early Saturday morning before the gunman fled and ultimately shot and injured himself.

Las Vegas Police Lt. Dan McGrath said the shooting happened around 6:30 a.m. at Arizona Charlie’s Hotel and Casino on Decatur Boulevard, after a woman called security to report a disturbance.

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The guards, employed by the casino, had entered the room on the hotel’s fourth floor and were shot with a handgun by the man, who was the lone occupant in the room, McGrath said.

He said the suspect then fled down the hallway with the gun and exited the rear of the casino, which is adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

McGrath said the man tried to carjack a person in their car, but the individual closed the door on him. Then he tried to break into another car before running up to a house and confronting a woman with four children, McGrath said.

The homicide detective said the woman was able to fend off the man as he kicked the door. McGrath said the suspect then ran to the garage, entered the laundry area and shot himself in the head.

Police later identified the suspect as 29-year-old Christopher Olague. He was taken to University Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

“I don’t expect him to live,” McGrath said.

Arizona Charlie’s is one of three casino properties owned by Golden Entertainment Inc.; it also runs the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and Arizona Charlie’s Boulder in Paradise, Nev. A spokesman for the company referred questions to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, but said the casino didn’t shut down because the shooting didn’t affect the public.

The hotel was reportedly fully booked for the New Year’s Eve weekend, and Ron Corona, a visitor from San Francisco, said everything appeared normal inside.

It was the scene outside the casino — which advertised 24-hour bingo and specials on Bud Light and Jim Beam on its marquee — that was jarring.

Corona, 31, was walking through the parking lot as a Las Vegas police squad car was parked near an entrance along with a crime scene investigators van. He was reading an account of what happened on his smartphone.

“I figured somebody got murdered in their room,” Corona said. “But inside the casino, you’d never know anything had happened.”

The slaying of security guards at a casino prompted memories of the mass shooting on Oct. 1, when a Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino a security guard was shot by Stephen Paddock. The guard’s injuries were not life-threatening.

From a room in the hotel, Paddock, 64, shot and killed 58 people and wounded hundreds when he opened fire on thousands attending a country music festival across the Las Vegas Strip.

Christopher Darcy, deputy chief of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigative services division, said that while the homicide had no connections to terrorism or the mass shooting, the coupling of a casino and shot security guards triggered an initial reaction of dread.

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“That was my concern and that’s why the response out here today was commensurate with that [we] thought,” Darcy said. “We want to assure the public that Las Vegas is a safe community and this is in no way related to events on the Strip or terrorism.”

The city has steeled itself for the New Year’s Eve events, which are expected to draw 334,000 people to Las Vegas. The Strip will be closed to vehicle traffic for close to 12 hours amid extra-high security.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department authorities requested the U.S. Department of Homeland Security make the New Year’s Eve event a so-called SEAR 1 event. That is the highest level of security and includes measures such as snipers, extra FBI and Homeland Security mobile stations and medical personnel. Other SEAR 1 events include the Super Bowl and political party conventions.

But the mass shooting had an effect on travelers coming to Las Vegas, with the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau noting a decline in people coming to stay and play.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported visitation to the city was down 4.2% in October compared with the same month in 2016. Kevin Bagger, executive director of the agency's research center, said that decline was due mainly to a reduction in the number of nearby tourists driving in to the city, as opposed to flying in from further afield. Another factor, he said, was that people’s usual excitement for a Vegas stay was “muted” due to the tragedy.

The visitor’s authority reported that November numbers were down again — a decline of 3.7% to 3.3 million compared with November 2016. The agency didn’t attribute the second straight decline in visitors to the October shooting, saying there wasn’t enough data to make a correlation.

The authority also expected fewer visitors for New Year’s Eve, but that is being attributed to hotel renovations, which have left fewer rooms available for the night.

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