Wounded casino security guard vanishes from Las Vegas — and surfaces on the set of ‘Ellen’
The mystery is over: Las Vegas security guard Jesus Campos has been found.
On the set of “Ellen.”
On Wednesday, Ellen DeGeneres’ television talk show is expected to broadcast the much-anticipated first interview with the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino security guard, who was the first shooting victim in the Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas.
DeGeneres tweeted a photo of Campos holding a cane on the set Tuesday alongside maintenance engineer Stephen Schuck, who was also shot at by the gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
The news ended five days of speculation over the whereabouts of the security guard, who was shot as he passed outside gunman Stephen Paddock’s hotel room and who holds important information on who knew what and when as the shooting rampage got underway.
Reporters had been looking for Campos to help explain what happened in the moments before Paddock began firing at the crowd assembled for a country music festival opposite the hotel — and how long it took for police to respond.
Shifting timelines given by police and near-total silence from Mandalay Bay’s owners have left Campos as one of the only potential sources of first-hand information on how the shooting rampage unfolded and how the hotel responded.
In a recording of his appearance on “Ellen,” Campos, who said he was “doing better each day, slowly but surely,” confirmed he had called in when he was shot — before the full rampage began. But he gave few other details that would answer nagging questions about the response of hotel security and Las Vegas police.
Appearing in a gray suit and with a cane, Campos said he got an alert for an open door on the 32nd floor. He went up a stairwell from the 31st to the 32nd floor, but the stairwell door was blocked — apparently by the gunman — so he had to take another route to get to the floor.
When he got onto the 32nd floor and reached the stairwell door — which was inside a small room with two doors that separates the stairwell from the hallway, immediately adjacent to Paddock’s suite — Campos found a “metal bracket” blocking the door to the stairwell.
He said he called security dispatch to transfer his call to the building’s engineers, who sent an engineer to examine the door.
“At that time I heard what I assumed was drilling sounds,” Campos said. (Officials have said that Paddock appeared to be drilling into a wall inside his room for unknown reasons.) As Campos walked down the hall, away from Paddock’s suite, the outer door of the access room, which was unblocked, closed loudly behind him.
“I believe that’s what caught the shooter’s attention,” Campos said. “As I was walking down, I heard rapid fire, and at first I took cover.” The gunman was shooting through the door of his hotel suite. “I don’t know how he was shooting.”
Campos felt a “burning sensation” and went to lift his pant leg up and, seeing blood, realized he’d been shot.
“That’s when I called it in on my radio that shots had been fired,” Campos said. “I was going to say that I was hit, but I got on my cellphone just to clear that radio traffic for — they can coordinate the rest of the call.”
Engineer Schuck, responding to Campos’ earlier call about a blocked door, arrived on a service elevator from a higher floor, and he spotted Campos at the end of a hallway. It was quiet as Schuck walked toward Paddock’s end of the hallway. Then he saw Campos and heard gunshots.
“At the time I didn’t know it was shooting; I thought it was a jackhammer,” Schuck said.
Campos said “take cover, take cover,” Schuck said. “Within milliseconds, if he didn’t say that, I would have got hit.... They were passing behind my head, and I could feel pressure.”
One female guest came out of her room, and Campos told her to take cover in her room.
Campos thanked the first responders and the community for their work during their “darkest hour.”
DeGeneres hinted that Campos would not be giving any more interviews after appearing on her show, but that the appearance was unpaid.
“You’re talking about it now and you’re not going to talk about it again,” DeGeneres said, adding, “We of course wanted to give you money, and you both were very, very specific. You said you don’t want money, you don’t want money at all, so you’re not getting any money.”
Speculation about Campos’ whereabouts had begun after he mysteriously left a Las Vegas hotel room Thursday where he was preparing for televised interviews on the Sean Hannity show on Fox, as well as news shows on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC. No interviews took place.
David Hickey, president of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America union that represents the security guards at Mandalay Bay, told The Times that he was attending a meeting with MGM representatives in one room of the suite as Campos waited with a security guard — hired by MGM — and another union member in the living room.
When the meeting ended about 2 p.m., Hickey said Campos no longer was in the room.
“When I got in touch with the other union member, I was told Campos was taken to the Quick Care” health clinic, Hickey said.
Hickey didn’t hear from the guard afterward and announced to a scrum of reporters that night that Campos had canceled interviews. Campos didn’t contact his union in the days after he walked away.
The company that owns the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino issued a statement Tuesday that implied it was in touch with Campos as questions mounted over the Las Vegas casino’s response to the mass shooting.
“Jesus Campos wants to tell his story at a time and place of his choosing,” Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM Resorts International, said in a statement after the Los Angeles Times requested an interview with him. “He’s asked that everyone respect his request for privacy. We could not be more proud of Jesus.”
Las Vegas police initially stated that Paddock shot Campos through the door of his hotel suite on the 32nd floor midway through his attack on the concert, essentially crediting Campos with turning Paddock’s attention away from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival across the street.
But police later said that Campos was shot six minutes before the attack began, and then officials changed their story again, stating that Campos was shot moments before Paddock began his attack on the concert.
Police and casino officials have said that Campos promptly reported the gunman to hotel security and that police officers and armed security responded immediately to the 32nd floor, where Paddock had a suite.
But the first officers to get to the floor arrived 12 minutes after Paddock had launched his assault on the crowd — and two minutes after he had stopped shooting — raising questions about how quickly the hotel had informed officers on the scene about Campos’ report.
Times staff writers Jaweed Kaleem, Melissa Etehad and Ruben Vives contributed to this report.
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3:00 p.m. Wednesday: The story was updated with a link to Campos’ interview.
11:40 p.m. Tuesday: The story was updated with details of Campos’ television appearance.
8:25 p.m. Tuesday: The story was updated with news of Campos’ upcoming appearance on television.
The story was originally published at 12:55 p.m.
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