Editors Note: You are reading the complimentary version of our AccessVegas.com Insider Vibe. Each week, our paid subscribers enjoy a column from Founder Ted Newkirk, which generally revolves around insider Las Vegas tips and info which save visitors time and money, and help make our members the best informed Las Vegas visitors of all.
Due to the Las Vegas tragedy of October 1, 2017, we’re including his thoughts — as a 24-year resident, and well-respected Las Vegas expert — on what has transpired.
Hello From Las Vegas – Well, well, well… this was always the column that I hoped I’d never have to write. Just as the first responders, law enforcement, and local hospitals in our valley regularly drill for situations like Sunday night, never having to want to put what they learn into practice. This continues to be an unrelenting nightmare, which has given me actual nightmares.
First of all, I’m not going to recap the happenings. Unless you have been in a self-imposed media blackout this week, or stranded on a desert island, you know as much as you want to know. I’m sure some of you watched (and perhaps continue to watch) as much of the national and international coverage as possible, and others hare perhaps had to turn to news off just to escape.
I was out on my back patio late Sunday evening. I keep late hours and have dinner around 10 PM, and then (weather permitting) head out to my back patio to watch a little (non-news) TV. I deal with Las Vegas news for a living. I don’t even take a phone or a tablet out with me. Just after midnight, I wanted to check something on the computer in my home office. I came inside and found Facebook blowing up. I sat and watched our four local news stations, plus FOX/CNN/MSNBC until 7 AM in disbelief, with a bottle at my side. Not getting trashed. Just getting numb.
The cycle of getting some sleep intertwined with watching TV hasn’t ceased as I write this on Wednesday night. They keep finding out so much more. Word is that 100 Las Vegas Metro (PD) officers are at work, in tandem with another 100 FBI agents.
I want to thank members who took the time to drop me a note, praying and hoping that myself and our small staff was OK. Rick Ziegler (who helps assemble this newsletter, the What We’re Watching, deals with subscriber issues, and actually operates the software that sends it to you) was at the Cosmo with our Gaming writer (and noted gaming author Victor Royer — look him up on Amazon) from 8-11 PM. They were fortunate enough to be safely at home as they became aware. Amy Raynor-Cooley had been at Disneyland with her family for the weekend. None of us know anyone personally at the concert.
Having said that, we love our city so much, and consider all visitors as an extended family which we care very much about. In addition, Amy usually enjoys our comps to many of the outdoor concerts that happen during the year behind The D. We’re all-too-familiar with our hotels, our landscape, and the events which many of you come to enjoy.
How Safe Is Las Vegas Really? – Obviously, since I’m in the tourism industry, you can figure that I’m going to tell you how safe Las Vegas is. Hotels are littered with security cameras. As are street and public areas. Training for all kinds of issues is intensive. You know why you aren’t hearing about anything being botched at any level. Because it wasn’t. As I noted at the start, plans we never want to use are in place for just these kinds of situations.
In fact, a surgeon at University Medical Center (which is just a couple neighborhoods over from me) was quoted as saying that they handle things like this (trauma) all of the time. Just not at this level. I’ve heard that only four of the couple hundred people who were taken to UMC died at the hospital. They saved everyone else. And, keep in mind, this is where the most serious victims were taken. Some of whom will be healing in the hospital for weeks to come.
The “Long” Response? – I heard a couple of news reports questioning why it took 72 minutes from the start of the shooting until they got the shooter. I’m sure many of you took that with a grain of salt. You know that if you even are simply planning to meet someone on the casino floor at a bar, restaurant, or show, you’d better leave your room 10 minutes early. Longer if you are staying at the end of your floor (like the shooter as located).
Going back to the start: First, there was the time it took just to figure out what was happening. Some of you have seen the police body cams from early moments. Once they figured out where the bullets were reigning down from, they had to try to figure out what floor that even was. You know that most newer Strip hotels are sheer walls of glass. It isn’t like you can count up the floors from the outside.
Officers had to get to the hotel, and get up to those floors, and start the process of both searching floors and protecting guests. At the same time, I’m sure a SWAT team was being assembled. We learned that this SWAT team was actually a combination of SWAT officers and regular officers. Kind of an ad-hoc situation.
The Metro police headquarters is downtown, perhaps a mile west of the Fremont Street Experience. A full 10 miles from Mandalay Bay. Now, you have transport time. As we’ve already covered, getting all those guys and equipment from the outside of Mandalay Bay up to that floor, situated, and ready to go added significant time. That’s more than a few elevator rides.
At the end of the day that only 72 minutes elapsed between the beginning of the shooting and breaching the hotel room with the SWAT team in this situation, on the Las Vegas Strip, was nothing short of spectacular. In fact, word is now coming out that it appears the shooter had actually been on planning to escape. He was given no way out early enough that he never left the room.
Too Soon? – Because this is a political topic, and I go to the ends of the earth to keep politics out of my columns (as I’m bound to offend someone), let me warn you in advance. I’ve never owned a firearm. I don’t have a significant horse in this race. I’m not opposed to a national debate on where the line is set on firearms. We should have ongoing national debates on many, many issues.
Having said that, the cry from the anti-gun politicians on Monday Morning was too soon. Way too soon. Yes, I’ve heard the rhetoric that no, it was “too late” after what had happened. No, it was too soon.
Las Vegas as a community, and as a visitor community, and as friends and family of the victims (both those who died, and those who got injured) was still in horrific pain and shock. I don’t even know anyone who got hurt, and my guts were ripped out. Many friends and families of the victims were still finding out what happened on Monday Morning. Could you have at least let the bodies get cold before using tragedies to make political points? That sheer insensitivity isn’t exactly endearing me to the gun-control lobby.
This is a guy who barely had a parking ticket on his record. He was not a person known to local, state, or national law enforcement. The most extensive background check wouldn’t have caught him. He was also a very wealthy person, whom I’m sure had the means to procure whatever methods of destruction he wanted to use, legal or black market. Can many crimes be blamed on easy access to guns? Perhaps. This one? Not so much, in my opinion.
Moving Forward – I spend parts of my day monitoring truckloads of Las Vegas visitor outlets (so you don’t have to). Facebook groups, message boards, you name it. The overwhelming comments suggest that people aren’t going to cancel trips, nor quit coming. Technically, we’re already back to business-as-usual. They were finally able to even re-open The Strip in front of the event venue.
We’ll continue to host the biggest names in entertainment, biggest sporting events, and be a hub of fun and happiness and joy for visitors from around the globe.
I leave you with this Facebook photo courtesy of Las Vegas resident James Perry.
Ted Newkirk, Publisher
Editor: Rick “VegasZiggy” Ziegler
Associate Editor, News Researcher, Concerts and Headliners: Amy Rayner-Cooley
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