Las Vegas shooting: New timeline raises questions on police response

The US flag is left at a makeshift memorial outside the Route 91 music festival site beside the Mandalay Hotel, on Oct 4, 2017. Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo did not address whether the mass shooting could have been prevented based on the new timeline. PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS (REUTERS) - Las Vegas police faced new questions on Tuesday (Oct 10) about their response to this month's mass shooting at an outdoor concert, a day after a county sheriff disclosed the gunman shot a security guard before, not after, opening fire on a concert crowd below his window at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Aden Ocampo-Gomez said the office will respond later to questions involving police response time to the shooting that killed dozens of people at an outdoor concert.

On Monday, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo disclosed that gunman Stephen Paddock shot a hotel security guard responding to a door alarm near his 32nd-floor suite six minutes before he began firing out his window. Officials initially said Paddock shot the security guard after he began raining bullets down on the crowd.

"What we have learned is (the security guard) was encountered by the suspect prior to his shooting to the outside world," Lombardo said.

Paddock, 64, killed 58 people and injured hundreds, before fatally shooting himself as police responded. Nine days later, his motive remained a mystery.

Lombardo did not address whether the mass shooting could have been prevented based on the new timeline, but said it was unclear why Paddock stopped firing on the concert.

In an active shooter situation, response time can be as fast as three minutes, said Sid Heal, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department commander and tactical expert. He questioned why it took police so long to reach the room if hotel security immediately called them.

"Someone needs to account for those minutes," he said.

Nevada Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison told CNN on Tuesday that there was a lot of information to evaluate, but acknowledged that Paddock did not stop firing because of the guard, Jesus Campos, as was initially assumed.

Campos immediately alerted the hotel's in-house security team after he was shot at 9.59pm, Lombardo said.

Police were not aware Campos had been shot until they met him in the hallway at 10.18pm, three minutes after Paddock had stopped firing on the concert. Police blew open Paddock's hotel room door 81 minutes after the shooting started.

Protocol for Las Vegas hotels and casinos is to barricade the corridor where a shooting takes place and wait for police to arrive, said David Shepherd, a security expert who advises the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and who ran the security team at The Venetian hotel on the Vegas Strip for eight years.

Police are trained to wait and negotiate with a shooter, rather than storm the room immediately, he said. The initial reports that night of multiple shooters at several hotels would also have confused police, he added.

"One of the biggest priorities is not to lose the life of a police officer," Shepherd said by telephone. "So in those six minutes, it is highly unlikely police would have stormed that room."

The president of the union that represents Campos and officials with MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, could not be reached for comment.

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