Las Vegas Undersheriff Kevin McMahill provided false information to press - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Las Vegas Undersheriff Kevin McMahill provided false information to press

Press briefing screenshot

Since the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre that resulted in the worst mass shooting in American history, leaving 58 people dead and over 500 injured, I have written 30 stories on the tragedy for the Baltimore Post-Examiner.

I wish I didn’t have to do that. I wish the massacre never happened. I wish I had the power to bring back those we lost and heal all those who were injured. I wish I could take back the physical and emotional suffering of the survivors, many who will live with those scars for the rest of their lives. I wish I could take the pain away from all those who lost loved ones that night.

Sadly, I don’t have the power to do that, I only wish I did.

I have received many, more than many, emails from individuals who were obviously upset about my stories for a whole variety of reasons.

Some death threats, some accusing me of being an agent of the police, and others telling me I’m anti-police and others saying I’m keeping the story of a tragedy alive for the money.

I will dispel those accusations right now.

I am pro-police. I spent half my life in law enforcement and lost my career because I believed in the oath I swore to when I became a cop. I am not that naïve to believe that misconduct and corruption does not exist, it costs me my career. When it raises its ugly head, I have written about it.

Being anti-bad cop does not mean that I am anti-cop. Enough said on that.

I am not an agent of the police, far from it, specifically in the stories I have written criticizing the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s investigation of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

I don’t have to apologize to anyone for the stories I write, and personally, I could care less whether someone takes offense to anything that I do write.

The Baltimore Post-Examiner broke two stories, one on why the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had to borrow armored vehicles from a private company the night of the shooting and why did a SWAT officer fire his weapon inside Stephen Paddock’s suite.

Nothing sinister there, just reporting on what happened.

The public has a right to know what is going on with their police department. It is funded by taxpayer dollars. Granted, the sheriff who runs the LVMPD is an elected official, a politician. But no sheriff is God, although many have thought they were.

The LVMPD is not unlike other law enforcement agencies across the country that have had their share of corruption and police misconduct.

I have heard horror stories about events that have occurred in the LVMPD over the years, over many years in fact. Cover-ups and misconduct that was swept under the carpet because upper brass was involved. Who has dirt on another, who’s sleeping with whose wife, who beat up their wife and the stories go on and on.

As one former cop told me, it’s like Peyton Place.

However, it’s an entirely different story if you are of lower rank or line level. Then they throw the book at you or threaten your job, so I have been told.

What Las Vegas lacks is quality investigative journalists of the type that we see in other major cities. Any journalist can dig up a court record and write a story about it. That’s not investigative journalism.

So, when Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Undersheriff Kevin McMahill made statements at press briefings concerning convoluted timelines, hotel check-in dates and other comments that conflicted with LVMPD radio traffic the night of the massacre, I questioned those comments.

Case in point, occurred at the press briefing that was published on YouTube on October 3, by the LVMPD concerning a 6 p.m. briefing.

That briefing was conducted by Clark County Undersheriff, Kevin McMahill, the number two man running the LVMPD.

If you are the two top cops running the LVMPD before you make any statement to the press about the worst mass shooting investigation in U.S. history, wouldn’t you want to be damn sure your facts are correct, otherwise you might not want to comment.

Undersheriff Kevin McMahill:

“We have a responsibility to get it right. The first question is how long did the actual shooting last. I’m prepared to give you some information on that. First call came into our dispatch center at 10:08 p.m. about shots being fired. The suspect I can tell you that we know now that he fired off and on for somewhere between nine and eleven minutes. We know that the suspect fired over a dozen or so volleys, and we know that the firing by the suspect ceased at 10:19.”

I agree that you do have a responsibility to get it right. The first call that came in to the dispatch center about shots being fired was at 10:05 p.m. and that was from the police officer who was at the concert venue and called in shots fired. The firing stopped at 10:15, Sheriff Lombardo would later tell the press.

“So, I want you to think about that, the minute, the first minute the police are aware of the shots being fired at 10:08 and it stops at 10:19. That’s a remarkable response by this department.”

Again, those times would change. I don’t know what he was trying to imply here, but why the shooter stopped firing had nothing to do with the police. We do not know why the shooter stopped firing when he had 23 weapons and plenty of ammunition to continue to do so.

“Also, another question that came up how long was it before our SWAT team entered the suspects room. Somebody said you heard it was seventy-two minutes and why was it so long.”

The first shots were fired at 10:05 p.m. according to Sheriff Lombardo. The room wasn’t breached until 11:20 p.m. That is over one hour and ten minutes after the shooting started.

“Just mention to you, that the sheriff mentioned previously at the briefing. We had patrol officers working another event at the Mandalay Bay who heard the shooting and took it upon themselves to form up into a team, enter the stairwell, begin ascending the floors and also evacuating hotel guests. The SWAT team had to arrive first at the Mandalay Bay before they could take any action.”

Lombardo said the security officer called his dispatcher who then notified the police. MGM Resorts International in their statement said that LVMPD officers were with Mandalay Bay security officers when Security Officer, Jesus Campos, called over the radio that shots were fired, and after hearing that over the security radio, the police and security immediately responded to the 32nd floor.

“As I mentioned earlier there was a very heroic security guard who was shot during the search for that suspect, that security guard went up to the room, he was advancing to the room when the suspect fired through the door at the security guard and struck him. He was able to provide additional information to the police on exactly which room we were looking at. However, at that time it’s important to note that the shooting had stopped.”

That is not true, Campos was not advancing to the room when he was shot.  Campos said on the Elllen DeGeneres Show that he got shot at after he approached the gunman’s room and exited the outer stairwell door that he was checking because it was blocked from the other side. Campos said when the door slammed he believed that may of alerted the gunman who opened fire as he was walking down the hallway away from the door.

This is a very important fact as to when Campos got shot at. Why didn’t the detective who first interviewed Campos know this? This is very puzzling to me. Obviously, there was no gunfire coming from the room, otherwise Campos never would have approached the room.

According to the LVMPD radio traffic that night, it was over 18 minutes from the time the first police officer called in shots fired at the concert venue until a police officer tells his dispatcher that they are on the 32nd floor and that Campos was shot, and the room was 135.

“At that point because it’s a barricaded, at that point because it’s no longer an active shooter, we’re not hearing any further shots, the floors have already been evacuated of guests, the suspect was now isolated and contained within a room.”

I disagree with McMahill’s assertion that the suspect was isolated and contained.

The police did not know that the night of the shooting. As a matter of fact, one of the SWAT officers says right on the radio that they must pop the door to see if the gunman is still in there or if he went somewhere else. The police never had any contact with Stephen Paddock, verbally or otherwise. For all they knew that night he could have already been long gone which would have made him a threat to the public.

“At that point that the SWAT team made their decision based on when it was appropriate to enter. I want to make it clear that while there was that slight delay, the suspect was no longer firing into the crowd.”

Yes, there was a slight delay. Paddock opened fire at 10:05 p.m. The police breached the first door at 11:20 p.m.

Who all went into the room. Was it the entire SWAT team or just two K-9 officers, a gang unit detective, one other officer and the SWAT officer who breached the door with explosives.

According to 60 Minutes it was the four officers and one SWAT officer who entered the room. They appeared on the show, minus the SWAT officer.

Where was the rest of the SWAT team?

We still do not know who discharged their weapon and why. Sheriff Lombardo said it was an accidental discharge, but did not elaborate any further.

The timeline wasn’t right from the start. How the police could not have known the correct set of events when Jesus Campos got shot at, is mind-boggling.

What is the extent of Campos’ injuries. Lombardo said the gunman fired about two-hundred rounds through the door at Campos. We heard he was shot in the leg. Did he get hit with a bullet fragment or did he take a direct hit from a .223 or .308 caliber round?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Lombardo would later say in an interview that, “a minute here and there didn’t make a difference.” Really, what kind of investigation was being conducted if that is the mindset of the top cop.

To make statements that the sequence of events was going to change was complete nonsense.

What happened in that one-hour period since Paddock stopped firing?

When did he commit suicide?

Could anyone else have exited Paddock’s suite unnoticed in that one-hour period?

What about other guests in the hotel that were evacuated, specifically on the 32nd floor. Have they all been investigated for possible connections to Paddock?

There are still so many unanswered questions surrounding this investigation.

Never forget those who were killed and injured in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017.



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.