When did the Las Vegas massacre cover-up begin? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

When did the Las Vegas massacre cover-up begin?

LAS VEGAS — When did Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the top cop who runs the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department start the cover-up of cop Cordell Hendrex?

Almost immediately after the October 1 massacre.

It is hard to believe that three days after the massacre Lombardo would not have been privy to information concerning the actions of the first LVMPD officers who arrived at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

Not only was his department involved in the worst homicide investigation in its history, but the national spotlight was shining right down on the LVMPD because it was the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Lombardo deceived the public by not being transparent and divulging that two of his officers along with three armed Mandalay Bay security supervisors retreated one floor below and failed to take any action to reach gunman Stephen Paddock while people were being killed and wounded across the street at the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

Along with that cover-up, Lombardo started the lie about the LVMPD full SWAT team making entry into Paddock’s suite.

Four days after the massacre on October 4, 2017, Lombardo held another press briefing. Standing next to him was FBI Special Agent in charge of the Las Vegas Division, Aaron Rouse and Rouse’s number two man at the time, FBI Assistant Special Agent in charge, Patrick Brodsky.

Lombardo displayed the timeline of events on a large screen monitor for the press in attendance.

10:05 p.m. – First shots fired by the suspect. This was seen on closed circuit television from the concert venue.

10:12 p.m. – First two officers arrive on the 31st floor and announce the gunfire is coming from directly above them.

10:15 p.m. – The last shots are fired from the suspect per body worn camera.

10:17 p.m. – The first two officers arrive on the 32nd floor.

10:18 p.m. – Security officer tells the LVMPD officers he was shot and gives them the exact location of the suspect’s room.

What was wrong with that presentation was that it was misleading.

From looking at that monitor and without any explanation from Lombardo whatsoever, you might think that the first two officers who arrived on the 31st floor (who we now know were Cordell Hendrex and Eliff Varsin) were the same officers who went to the 32nd floor.

None of the reporters in attendance even asked Lombardo about that. Nobody asked if it was the same officers from the 31st floor that went the 32nd floor. Had somebody asked that question and Lombardo said no, they were two different officers, then the next logical question would be, then what did those two officers on the 31st floor do for three minutes while people were being killed.

That never happened, and Lombardo never mentioned anything about two of his officers retreating on the 31st floor who never responded or even made on attempt to reach the shooter one floor above them.

The day before at the October 3, 4 p.m. press briefing Lombardo said the “SWAT Team formed and made entry.”

That was a bold-faced lie and Lombardo knew that. As I said, it’s almost impossible to believe that within days of the massacre Lombardo did not know who made entry into Paddock’s suite, that Cordell Hendrex was a freaking coward and other pertinent facts.

Also at that October 3 press briefing, Lombardo said this about Mandalay Bay Security Officer Jesus Campos and patrol officers not making entry into Paddock’s suite which is another lie, because they did with one SWAT officer:

Reporter: “Can you clarify if patrol officers made entry into the room?”

Lombardo: “No. Patrol officers evaluated floor by floor of the space between 29 and 32 where the suspect was. They performed a security, they evaluated the rooms and formed a perimeter at the suspect’s location. By unfortunate acts of the suspect, the security guard was engaged in that process.”

Reporter: “Was the security guard in the company of officers or alone when…”

Lombardo: “He was acting independently, he got separated from our team.”

Total BS.

Back to the October 4 press briefing.

Lombardo perpetuates the lie again about the SWAT Team making entry.

The following is an exact transcript of Lombardo’s comments:

Lombardo:When the officers arrived and confirmed the location of the suspect’s room the gunfire had stopped.” Remember the day before Lombardo said Campos was shot while the police were there but he had gotten separated from them.

In accordance with their training the officers retrieved a master key from the injured security guard and began to systematically clear each hotel room. So imagine the elevator bank in the center, a hundred fifty feet down on a tri-plex hotel was the suspect’s room. So there are several rooms along the way because of no firing occurring, they could not hear additional firing, they believed it was important to evacuate in case the suspect was barricaded.”

Less than one month later on November 2, Lombardo while being interviewed on KLAS-TV told the reporter that the officers had to enter the room immediately because they didn’t want to give Paddock the chance to reload and open fire again on the crowd. I’ll say this. That’s exactly what they should have done, but the police didn’t do that, and I will explain in an upcoming article why that was.

Lombardo: While the first strike team did this, the second team made up of two K-9 personnel, a SWAT officer and patrol officer navigated the numerous stairs wearing heavy tactical gear, carrying a large bag with tactical equipment and holding rifles, in order to have a closer position to the suspect’s room and that is within that stairwell, that doorway of the suspects room, but as they entered into the hallway they can see the room service cart and readily apparent on the room service cart were cameras, so they pulled back and they waited for the approach of a full SWAT Team.”

According to Lombardo, the top cop at the LVMPD, SWAT Officer Levi Hancock, K-9 Sgt. Joshua Bitsko, K-9 Officer Dave Newton, Detective Matthew Donaldson and the other officers on the entry team who breached Paddock’s suite one hour and five minutes after the last shots were fired, pulled back and waited for the approach of a full SWAT Team.

And this guy is leading a police department?

Sheriff Joe Lombardo is not reflective of the police officers on the LVMPD.

It’s no wonder Lombardo fought tooth and nail to prevent the release of body-worn camera footage, officer’s reports and witness statements to the public.

Two more comments and then it’s good night.

Remember when Lombardo said the room service cart had cameras that were readily apparent, which is one of the few true things he said, well it wasn’t so apparent to Mandalay Bay Security Officer Jesus Campos who not only didn’t notice any cameras, but he told the police during his interview that he didn’t even see a room service cart.

If you were writing a novel, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

If not for the fact that what happened the night of October 1, 2017, was a terrible tragedy, what I just wrote would be comical. It’s not only sad, but it’s also a freaking disgrace.

And last, to you LVMPD Officer Cordell Hendrex. Last I heard you were still on the road and a field training officer to boot. You must have missed this in your training, so I will have one of your fellow officers refresh your memory.

LVMPD Officer M. Polion wrote in his officer’s statement, “…I saw another female running at me. She was about 10 feet from me when she was hit by a round to the back of her head and it exited her face. Knowing that from her injury she was probably deceased, I continued to run out of the gate with the man I had already put up on my shoulders. There was a patrol vehicle about 75 yards northeast of Gate 6. I placed the man down on the ground behind the vehicle and told him I had to get back in there. I told his wife to get him to the Hooters where medical personnel could help him. Our training for this situation is to run to the shooter and eliminate that threat. I still believed at this point there was an active shooter inside the fairgrounds, so I made entry back inside.”

So true brother, too bad you weren’t on the 31st floor, lives may have been saved.

You did good that night, stay safe out there.

 

 

 

 


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.
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