New disclosure shows a casino guard alerted hotel to gunman before Vegas massacre began. So why did it take so long to stop him?
Before the Las Vegas massacre began, a wounded Mandalay Bay hotel security guard called hotel officials to warn them about a gunman on the 32nd floor, an investigator told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.
But police did not arrive at the room where the guard had been shot until after Stephen Paddock had finished a 10-minute shooting rampage on a crowd gathered below for a country music festival, the investigation now shows.
The revelation that hotel security had been alerted comes a day after Las Vegas police changed their timeline of how the Route 91 Harvest country music festival massacre started on Oct. 1 — not with an attack on a crowd along the Strip at 10:05 p.m., but with the shooting of Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos inside the hotel about six minutes before.
“He called it in before” the attack began, possibly using a hallway phone to contact hotel security, Clark County Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts told The Times in an interview. “He manually called down and he used his radio to call. … That’s what we were briefed this morning.”
Roberts said he didn’t know precisely what time Campos called in his own shooting before the assault on the concert began, or whether the hotel immediately passed the information to police.
“We just don’t know how long it took him to call. He’s getting shot at, he’s running, he’s getting shot, he finds some cover, that’s when he starts calling in,” Roberts said.
“This remains an ongoing investigation with a lot of moving parts. As evidenced by law enforcement briefings over the past week, many facts are still unverified and continue to change as events are under review,” MGM Resorts International spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement. “We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.”
DeShong added, “It is not appropriate for us to comment further at this time on what remains an open matter for law enforcement.”
Paddock, 64, a real estate investor and professional gambler from Mesquite, Nev., may have also continued to shoot into the hotel hallway. There are some indications that a maintenance worker appeared in the hallway outside Paddock’s door during the shooting rampage, and the gunman may have interrupted his firing at the crowd to shoot once again into the hallway, Roberts said.
But, Roberts continued, “I don’t think it took long at all” for the hotel and for police to respond to the shooting.
Roberts said the hotel dispatched its own armed security team to the 32nd floor, which arrived “right around the same time” as Las Vegas police, who officials have said arrived on the floor at 10:17 p.m. But the gunman had already fired his final shots out his hotel window at 10:15 p.m.
By the time police entered the room, Paddock had killed himself.
There are no hotel surveillance cameras in the hotel hallway, only on the floor’s elevator banks, and the timestamps on the hotel’s communications systems have in some cases been inaccurate, hampering investigators’ ability to build an accurate timeline while they try to find a motive behind the attack, Roberts said.
“Please remember this — our focus has been all along finding if there were other unknown subjects and trying to trace his steps and trying to do all these things,” Roberts said. Compiling the sequence of events in the hallway, he said, “has not been the priority for us.”
He said officials hoped to release a complete timeline on Friday.
Roberts also praised Campos. “In my opinion, I believe he disrupted the subject, interrupted him,” Roberts said. “The fact the security guard did what he did, when he did it, shortened the amount of time that he was going to be shooting on the crowd, in my opinion. It moved up his timeline.”
Attorney Richard A. Patterson, who has already filed legal papers to prevent the distribution of any of Paddock’s assets on behalf of victim John Phippen’s family, said the latest revelations of a six-minute delay between the shooting of Campos and the beginning of Paddock’s shooting rampage suggest “incompetence” on the part of Mandalay Bay.
“We are talking six minutes here. This is amazing and shocking that they didn’t respond faster,” said Patterson, who was planning legal action against MGM Resorts International on behalf of victims and the families of those killed or injured.
“I think everybody’s question is, what if they had gotten there?” Patterson said. “There are high-speed elevators to the 32nd floor. A couple of minutes makes all the difference. At the very least, they could have distracted the killer. Maybe they could have prevented it.”
Officials said Paddock had mounted cameras outside his hotel room and first started shooting at Campos through the door of the room when the guard came to check an alert for an open door on another guest’s room. Campos was hit in the leg. Officials estimated Paddock shot 200 rounds into the hallway.
In addition to more than 20 guns, Paddock had a stockpile of what officials described as survivalist equipment in his hotel room, including a bullet-resistant vest, a law enforcement source said Tuesday. Also found in the room were tracer rounds — which light up and reveal the path of a bullet, which can help aim — but Paddock didn’t use them, the source said.
Investigators also recovered survivalist equipment at Paddock’s home during searches.
6:30 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the management of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
4:35 p.m.: This article was updated with information that survivalist equipment and tracer rounds were found in gunman Stephen Paddock’s hotel room.
1:10 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from law enforcement praising the actions of the wounded security guard.
This article was originally published at 12:35 p.m.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get the day's top news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.