Horrific night of terrorism in Las Vegas - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Horrific night of terrorism in Las Vegas

Fifty-nine dead and 527 wounded after the Sunday night massacre of innocent people who were attending a country music festival on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip.

The concerts were going on for three days. I wonder if the shooter attended the concert at any time during that three-day period.

Many questions are being asked to determine a motive for the shootings. I will not mention the shooter’s name in this article. My thoughts and prayers are with those who were killed or wounded and their families. I could care less about the coward who was responsible.

The shooter may very well may be called a domestic terrorist at some point in the future. At the very least it was a terroristic action to those who were killed, wounded and at the concert.

According to law enforcement they recovered 23 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition from inside the suspect’s hotel room.

The suspect had ammonium nitrate fertilizer in his vehicle, which can be used along with fuel oil to manufacture an explosive. That mixture was used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Make no mistake this is an act of domestic terrorism. According to Nevada Law, NRS 202.4415, an act of terrorism is defined as any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to: (A) Cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.

People are asking how could he have gotten all those guns and the ammunition into his hotel room. Simple answer is he brought them in himself or had them delivered by a bellman, no mystery there.

There may not have been any fully automatic weapons in the room. There are add on devices you can attach to the trigger to make a semi-automatic weapon cycle like a fully automatic weapon. That does put a strain on the barrel, maybe the reason for so many weapons in the room.

To look for a motive, first look at who was targeted. In this case it was country music fans. Why did the shooter target them? Most country music fans are pretty much conservative in their politics. Was that the reason why they were targeted?

The shooter planned his attack. He knew exactly who he was targeting and why. Somewhere out there are the answers and somebody has them.

Sunday night as police responded to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where the shots were originating from a room on the 32nd floor, other calls went out over police radios.

Calls that made me shudder. My worst fear. A terrorist attack in Las Vegas, like what occurred in Mumbai, India.

As I listened to the police radio traffic the situation was escalating.

Possible shots fired inside the New York New York Hotel, shooter at the front desk, many people down. Two shots fired on the casino floor.

Possible car bomb at the Luxor Hotel valet area, vehicle with wires protruding.

SWAT units were telling the dispatcher they were in the hallway near the suspect’s room on the 32nd floor at Mandalay Bay.

The active shooter at New York New York possibly coming down the escalator headed to the Excalibur Hotel.

Several subjects down at Club Zumanity at New York New York. No answer at New York New York Security. SWAT commander asking for officers to get to the surveillance cameras at New York New York to verify if it is a diversion.

Dispatcher advises she is now getting information that there is an active shooter at the Tropicana Hotel.

Have the bomb squad handle the device at the Luxor, another officer said.

SWAT commander advises FBI SWAT, Henderson City Police SWAT and North Las Vegas Police SWAT enroute to staging area.

Dispatcher advises they are getting multiple calls of active shooters at multiple locations, may be a diversion.

Officer advises entering New York New York with strike team.

Another officer advises he is outside the Tropicana Hotel and does not here any shots, may be a diversion.

Dispatcher advises she is getting calls from people who are sheltering in place. Injured now calling in. Multiple locations are now sheltering in place.

Person with a rifle entering the employee entrance of the Bellagio Resort.

All the incidents other than the shooter at the Mandalay Bay were false thank God.

Questions that remain to be answered are who was calling in all those false reports and why? The New York New York Hotel is north of the Mandalay Bay across Tropicana Blvd. Who was it that called police and stated an active shooter with people down was occurring inside the casino.

When it was all over the shooter would be dead. He was acting alone according to the police.

As horrific as this was it could have been much worse had it indeed been a multi-pronged attack with multiple shooters at multiple locations.

In the weeks to come police and security officials in Las Vegas and across the country will be scrutinizing this catastrophe.

Others will be asking if it will affect tourism and the bottom line of the casinos.

How would similar incidents be handled in the future?

How would a Mumbai style attack be handled should something like that occur in Las Vegas?

Are casino and hotel security personnel trained and equipped to neutralize or at least suppress an attacker on their property before the police arrive?

The first question should be communications security. Why were all the tactical movements of the police being broadcasted unencrypted for anyone to intercept.

Over the years Las Vegas has had its share of frightening incidents.

In 2014 a drunk driver drove his pickup truck right through the front doors of the Stratosphere Hotel. It could have easily been a VBIED. With terrorist’s websites calling for car bomb attacks in this country for years, it was a disgrace that anyone could drive a vehicle right through the front doors of any casino.

In 2007 a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun from a balcony overlooking the casino floor inside the New York New York Hotel. Four people were wounded before four tourists tackled the gunman.

That same year a deadly homemade bomb in a coffee cup was left atop the car of a restaurant employee who died in the blast.

The amount of luggage that goes through most casinos in one day is cause for alarm. How easy would it be for a terrorist to conceal an improvised explosive device in a piece of baggage and just simply walk away.

Some properties have bomb-sniffing dogs that walk throughout the property. Other properties do not.

Why is it that some casinos have cut their security force to bare minimum?

The fact is that a casino dishwasher makes more money than a casino security officer on many properties.

Casino security officers have been killed and wounded performing their jobs in Las Vegas over the years. Sunday night a Mandalay Bay security officer was shot and wounded in the leg by the gunman in the room.

Las Vegas has now been put on notice. The worst mass shooting in United States history just occurred here in Las Vegas.

What security measures will be implemented, if any. Will windows on high rise towers be enhanced to prevent another incident like what happened on Sunday night.

There is no such thing as there is nothing we can do.

Hundreds of thousands of people line the Las Vegas Strip on New Year’s Eve. Are they now vulnerable from a strike from above?

Casinos spend millions of dollars on advertising, marketing and renovations, but how much gets allocated to protecting those who give them those dollars to spend.

Unfortunately, it comes down to money and getting funding in a non-revenue department like security in the casino industry is a struggle that has plagued many security directors for years.

Let us never forget those who were killed and wounded on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.