LAS VEGAS • One person was killed and dozens were injured when a woman deliberately drove her car onto a crowded pavement on the Las Vegas Strip, police said, near the hotel where the Miss Universe beauty pageant was being held.
The woman, who had a three-year-old in the car with her on Sunday night, was taken into custody and was expected to be charged yesterday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officials told reporters.
Police - urging more witnesses to come forward - described her as an African-American woman in her 20s, who was driving a 1996 Oldsmobile with Oregon licence plates.
Ms Rabia Qureshi, a tourist from Wisconsin, told local broadcaster KSNV that she saw victims "flying through the air" when the four-door sedan ploughed into a throng of people. "The car was like a bowling ball and the human bodies were like pins," she said.
Police said the driver mounted the kerb as many as three times before fleeing the scene. Las Vegas Deputy Police Chief Brett Zimmerman gave no indications as to a motive, but ruled out the possibility of terrorism. "This was not an act of terrorism... we've ruled that out," Mr Zimmerman told reporters. "(But) we have determined that this is an intentional act."
The United States has been on high alert since 14 people were killed in a Dec 2 attack in San Bernardino, California, by two radicalised Muslims who opened fire at a holiday party.
The Las Vegas authorities gave injury tallies ranging from 26 to 36 people, and said six who were in critical condition were eventually stabilised. Local media outlet KTNV reported that the University Medical Centre, one of three hospitals where the injured were taken, said most of its patients were from Montreal, in Canada. An 11-year-old was among those injured.
Representatives for the Canadian Consulate could not be immediately reached for comment.
The toddler accompanying the driver was not hurt.
Police warned people to avoid the area and said part of the Strip had been closed to traffic.
Cars were diverted near the Paris Las Vegas hotel, where the Strip was shut down as first responders rushed to the chaotic scene, according to CNN.
Long delays were expected. A witness said emergency and police vehicles swarmed the area.
Some passers-by were using smartphones to snap photos of the scene, while others seemed more focused on the glitzy sights of the famed Strip.
The authorities said the crash occurred at around 6.40pm, when the Miss Universe pageant was nearing its finale at the nearby Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
The authorities said it was likely that the Las Vegas Boulevard would remain closed for most of the night as investigations continued.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE