Las Vegas cop says police supervision not supportive of his off-duty response to October 1 massacre - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Las Vegas cop says police supervision not supportive of his off-duty response to October 1 massacre

LAS VEGAS — Detective Robert Garris wrote in his report that his supervision did not support his decision to respond while off-duty to the worst mass shooting in modern American history and what was the worst tragedy in the history of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Garris said on October 1, 2017, about 10:30 p.m. he was home preparing to go to sleep for the evening when he started receiving multiple phone calls alerting him to an active shooter incident in progress on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Garris immediately grabbed his patrol radio and tuned it to the SCAC [South Central Area Command] channel and heard confirmation of the news reports.  His wife turned on the news and began relaying information that she was receiving as well.  He grabbed clothing along with any tactical gear and firearms that he had and told his wife that he had to go.  Garris said his wife was upset and begged him not to go.  He told her he had to go, and she then told him to be careful.

After loading his vehicle with tactical gear, he contacted his brother who is also an LVMPD officer, to advise him of the situation and to determine his location.  His brother told him he was aware of the incident and was currently en route to the CCAC [Convention Center Area Command] to obtain his marked patrol vehicle and rally with his squad members.  Garris told his brother that he had received no communication from his supervision or guidance as to any deployment plans and he decided he would meet with his brother and then report to the command post being established at the SCAC.

Garris:“Upon arrival at CCAC, my brother and I, along with several of his squad members began a caravan to SCAC.  While driving southbound on Las Vegas Boulevard, the SCAC radio channel was abuzz with nonstop radio chatter advising of active shooter situations at Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, along with several other Strip resort properties.  It was at this moment that we all realized that we may be dealing with a very well-coordinated attack, with an unknown potential for several suspects and mass casualties.  I recall hearing a dispatch communication advising of three female suspect’s armed with weapons near a dumpster and a male running on Tropicana Boulevard with a firearm.  Moments later I heard an update advising that three women were being taken into custody and several firearms were located to the rear of a dumpster in an unknown area.”

“Unable to drive southbound on Las Vegas Boulevard due to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, we were forced to take an alternate route onto Koval Lane to E. Reno Avenue, Giles Street, and eventually emerging back onto Las Vegas Boulevard.  While passing the east entrance to the Route 91 Harvest Festival, we observed several deceased victim’s lying near the roadway and large groups of people dressed in western wear fleeing the scene.”

“Once we arrived at the SCAC command post, we were immediately advised to check-in with our names and personnel numbers.  We were given the call sign, 9M93 and designated as Strike Team 30, assigned to Sgt. Romprey.  Shortly thereafter, we were advised to move from the north end of the Route 91 Harvest Festival to Harmon Avenue on Las Vegas Boulevard, in order to maintain a police presence in the area and provide for a quick response to any further criminal activity.  While driving northbound on Las Vegas Boulevard, we observed another deceased victim lying in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.  It was explained that the victim had been loaded into a wheelbarrow and had been brought to the intersection to escape the gunfire and locate an ambulance.  We maintained our area of assignment until approximately 0630 hours when we were advised to secure.”

“Upon securing, I text messaged and left a voicemail for my sergeant, Mike King, advising him of my location and on-duty status for the active shooter incident.  Approximately thirty minutes later, I received a phone call from my lieutenant, Terry Bernard, asking where I was.  I explained to him that I responded to the Route 91 Harvest Festival active shooter incident late Sunday evening.  He asked if I had been working overtime.  I stated that I had not, I responded because of the urgency and severity of the incident as it was happening in real time.” 

“Lt. Bernard explained that we were now on A/B Roster [12 hours on, 12 hours off] and our squad was responsible for securing the LVMPD Headquarter Buildings.  I asked him if anyone else from our detail responded to the active shooter and was told “a lot of people did,” and our resources were now spread pretty thin.  I offered to immediately dress out and respond to headquarters.  I was told to stay by my phone.  Approximately fifteen minutes later, I received a phone call from my sergeant, Mike King.  King asked me again where I was last night.  I explained the entire chain of events again and was asked specifically who I worked for, what time I responded, where I was assigned, what my call sign was, who I worked with, what time I secured, and who I secured with. I answered every question thoroughly and was again advised to stay near my phone.  I repeated my willingness to immediately dress out and respond to headquarters but was again told to stay near my phone.”

“Now realizing that my supervision was not supportive of my decision to respond to the active shooter incident the evening prior, I began to immediately dress out in a patrol uniform.  While getting dressed I received a second call phone call from Sgt. King advising me to dress out and respond immediately to headquarters and be prepared to work until at least 1800 hours that evening, Monday, October 2nd.  Upon arriving at LVMPD Headquarters I was greeted by my sergeant who apologized to me for the “misunderstanding” last evening.  He advised that he was happy I said that and assigned me to a fixed post within building “B” on the first floor.  That is where I stayed until 1900 hours, Monday, October 2nd.  A/B Roster continued until Wednesday, October 4that 1800 hours.”

“I believe without hesitation that my self-initiated or self-dispatched response to the Route 91 Harvest Festival active shooter incident was not only necessary, but it was the morally and ethically responsible thing to do. To be at home, not receiving any guidance or direction, witnessing a mass casualty incident unfolding in real time, and not responding, would have been reprehensible.  Eighteen years’ worth of training and experience guided my decisions that night and I would respond in kind if presented with the same circumstances again.”

I agree with you Garris.  You did good that night, thank you.

Stephen Paddock brought the entire city to its knees with the death of 58 people and the wounding of over 400 others. Hundreds of others sustained injuries.

It is evident by reading the officer’s reports that have been released by court order, that the LVMPD was short on manpower that night.  Many officers who were off-duty did respond, as they should have.

What would happen if Las Vegas experienced a terrorist attack by multiple assailants?

Would there be sufficient manpower to handle multiple attacks at multiple locations?

The unsung heroes inside the concert venue on October 1 were those attendees, the civilians, off-duty firemen and police officers, and military, who sprang into action and saved lives by providing emergency medical care and victim transports to hospitals in privately owned vehicles.

Witness statements from those who attended the concert also questioned the lack of available paid rescue personnel on scene immediately after the gunfire stopped.

The police radio traffic from that night provides some insight on that.

“There are multiple trucks loading multiple people up to take them to the hospital, just let them know.”

“I’m with FD.  We have a ton of rescue’s [ambulances] that are available.”

“Ask them if I can throw them in my truck, they need to go now.”  “Copy that, go ahead and go.”

“Medics are asking if they can go to Four Seasons and the Boulevard or if they can have officers drive their vehicles that are there with injured civilians down to a safe area.”

“They can’t get to them safely, but if officers can drive these vehicles to a safe location they can service them.”

As far as manpower goes, Sheriff Joe Lombardo who runs the LVMPD, should revisit the department’s reserve police officer program that has fallen off the tracks in the past few years.








About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug authored over 135 articles on the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, more than any other single journalist in the country. He investigates stories on corruption, law enforcement and crime. Doug is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former police officer, deputy sheriff and criminal investigator. Doug spent 20 years in the hotel/casino industry as an investigator and then as Director of Security and Surveillance. He also spent a short time with the US Dept. of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. In 1986 Doug was awarded Criminal Investigator of the Year by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. In 1992 and 1993 Doug testified in court that a sheriff’s office official and the county prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence during the 1988 trial of a man accused of the attempted murder of his wife. Doug’s testimony led to a judge’s decision to order the release of the man from prison in 1992 and awarded him a new trial, in which he was later acquitted. As a result of Doug breaking the police “blue wall of silence,” he was fired by the county sheriff. His story was featured on Inside Edition, Current Affair and CBS News’ “Street Stories with Ed Bradley”. In 1992 after losing his job, at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Doug infiltrated a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont fortune heir and his wife. Doug has been a guest on national television and radio programs speaking on the stories he now writes as an investigative journalist. Contact the author.

One Comment

  1. someguy says:

    being in EMS, the #1 rule is get help/mutual aid coming early, easy to cancel if not needed. just another item in the long list weird events that played out in Vegas.

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