Visitors and players fled the MGM Grand and other Las Vegas properties Saturday night after rumors erupted there was an active shooter on the Las Vegas Strip. A gunshot-like noise in the area turned out to be a glass door getting struck by rocks, police said in initial reports.
The threatening sound and subsequent rumors led to lockdowns at several casinos along the Strip, according to an initial report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. One of the casinos put on lockdown was The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the report claimed.
It was at about 10 pm that a person allegedly hurled rocks at the exterior door in MGM Grand’s front valet area. The suspect was “immediately” apprehended, police said. He is likely to be charged with a misdemeanor for destroying hotel property, police add.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Capt. Branden Clarkson explained the “panic” was caused by those “thinking it was possible gunfire given the nature of what’s been happening across the nation,” the Review-Journal reported.
The sound “startled people in the valet area,” Metro officers confirmed in a 10:38 pm Twitter post. Also, fueled by social media rumors, some six casinos saw increased police and security guard presence on Saturday night, Vital Vegas reported.
Witnesses posting on social media called the incident a “stampede.” Fleeing casino visitors went through a live poker tournament area at the MGM Grand.
There were injuries, too, the posts claim. Police later confirmed one person suffered minor injuries after falling down, the Review-Journal reported.
A social media poster at the MGM Grand also revealed via a tweet that “armed casino security and cops with rifles are moving across the casino floor.”
A short time after the noise, MGM Grand security guards blocked off part of the valet area. Repairs were being made to the broken glass.
Vital Vegas called the aftermath from the incident “insanity.”
The response — and ensuing panic across multiple resorts — created far more harm than the incident itself,” Vital Vegas said.
The panic also led to “a lot of money” getting lost, social media posts claimed.
Everyone left their money in the slot machines. Employees and pit bosses cleared out. Somebody cleaned up. At least 4 casinos,” one poster said.
Metro police made it a priority to inform the crowds on the Strip the reports of gunfire were unfounded.
“We were able to quickly tell people that was not the case,” Clarkson was quoted by the Review-Journal. “We had officers on the street saying there was not a shooting.”
There were unconfirmed reports on Saturday night there was a shooting outside the New York-New York Hotel & Casino.
The “Mad Apple” Cirque du Soleil show at New York-New York was stopped after 10 pm due to the rumors, the Review-Journal said. The lights were put back on. Many audience members fled.
Also, pedestrians had made their way across the pedestrian bridge that connects the MGM Grand to New York-New York. They came to the theater seeking a hiding place.
Cast members in the show went back to their dressing rooms for safety, the Review-Journal said. They locked the doors and remained inside until 10:30 pm, when authorities said all was safe.
But as of 11:45 pm, police officers were still seen in force on the Strip. Police helicopters remained in the area, too, the Review-Journal reported.
Las Vegas On Edge
Much of Las Vegas has been on edge due to violent crimes in tourist areas. In recent weeks, the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas saw several violent crimes. Security and police presence has been upped in the area on weekends.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro police upped officer presence along the Strip in two prior selective enforcement initiatives called “Operation Persistent Pressure.” It targeted violent crime and drug-related activity.
Also, on May 14, the Lovers & Friends music festival which took place at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds was temporarily halted after fear broke out among thousands of attendees. An unfounded shooting rumor led to some fleeing audience members getting trampled.
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