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The Way Things Work in Vegas . . . Part One

Written by Vin Suprynowicz Subject: Mass Shootings

Our friend Ernie Hancock, who runs the Freedom's Phoenix radio show and Web site down in Phoenix ( ) claims I originated the dictum that -– if you want the straight dope on any big, controversial news event -– you just need to "wait three weeks" for the official "massaged for the masses" narrative to start to unravel.


I don't know that 21 days is a truly magic number, but it is interesting that two-and-a-half weeks have now elapsed since depraved killer Stephen Paddock -– motive still not clear – opened fire out his hotel window on the crowd at a country music festival in Las Vegas on the night of October First, killing at least 58 (deaths of the wounded unfortunately continue) and wounding about 500 more . . . all innocents presumably unknown to him.

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 01: People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

And sure enough, at this point efforts by an increasingly nervous and flustered Clark County Sheriff Joe "No Questions" Lombardo to "revise the timeline" of what happened that night, especially as regards when hotel staff at the Mandalay Bay knew they had an "active shooter," when they called police, why police (some of whom were already in the building) failed to arrive on the 32nd floor until AFTER THE SHOOTING HAD STOPPED and were surprised to find a wounded security guard there, and why it took nearly an hour before anyone busted in killer Paddock's hotel room door, have mainly succeeded only in getting more and more people to ask "What the heck is going on?"

Having been in the news business in Las Vegas for some 20 years, I believe I can help clear up a few possible sources of confusion.

First, a few disclaimers. I have no "inside source" in the investigation. I don't know -– I fear we now may never know -– whether there was a "six-minute gap" between the time hotel employees knew they had an "active shooter" on the 32nd floor, when police were called, and when they were actually (and accurately) dispatched. (Police often release tapes of citizens calling 9-1-1. They almost NEVER release recordings of what dispatchers tell their officers.)

So far as I know the vast weight of guilt and blame here still rests on the shooter. Whether or not the Mandalay Bay and parent MGM Resorts made some bad calls in their security arrangements (and they're likely to pay a big price for that, whether deserved or not), ask yourself whether you really want every hotel in America to X-ray your luggage, pat you down every time you come and go from your room, and spy on you while you're there . . . assuming that were possible, and further ignoring the fact it probably wouldn't work.

(Bad guys examine your expensive and cumbersome barn-doors-after-the-horse-is-gone measures, and promptly figure out something else.)

Nor should our concentration on the "after-the-fact" investigation -– especially as it sometimes evokes exasperation -– distract from the larger truth here, that hundreds of families have lost loved ones and wage-earners, and hundreds of those we might be tempted to blithely describe as "the lucky ones, since they were only wounded" may face lifetimes with disabling injuries and reduced earning capacity, through no fault of their own.


That said, your confusion may be somewhat reduced if you realize:

a) That the part of the official investigation into this mass shooting which touches on the actions of — and any possible negligence by -– MGM Resorts International is largely controlled today by . . . MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren and Chief Operating Officer Corey Sanders.

"Vin, are you nuts? They can't investigate THEMSELVES. The investigation is being run by the Las Vegas/Clark County Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI!"

b) Right. And the Clark County Sheriff and his Metropolitan Police Department basically work for Nevada's casinos, as do most of the local news media (evidence below.) Furthermore,

c) The local agent-in-charge of the FBI knows there's almost certainly a nice six-figure job in "corporate security" waiting to feather his nest with an extra million or so after he "retires" with a sweet federal pension at about age 55 . . . assuming he plays his cards right, which means at least showing reasonable deference to the sensibilities of those casino bosses — evidence below.

Incorruptible and apolitical? This is the same FBI that fielded deadly sniper Lon Horiuchi at both Ruby Ridge and Mount Carmel (Did he read them their "Miranda" rights before each head shot?), that pumped in flammable gas and fired incendiary "ferret" rounds into the church at Waco and then held the fire engines a mile away while the women and children burned to death.

This is the same FBI that had, yet for years sat on, evidence about the Clintons' "Foundation" bribe-taking while Hillary was OK'ing the Russian uranium deal, the same FBI whose director, James Comey, drafted his memo clearing Hillary of destroying emails which were under subpoena months BEFORE they interviewed her and concluded their "investigation." ( .)

And just for good measure, they also expected us to believe they had "no information" about the tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch — but 30 pages just happened to turn up, this week? ( .)

d) To date, their casino stock dips have been relatively minor and transient (in the single digits, and basically all "on paper," despite headlines about how they've "lost millions.") But the eyes of the casino bosses at this point are fixed on convention bookings for 2019, and on anyone who might be tempted to get nervous and pull out of a 2018 commitment. Those who book those convention rooms may now have to be "sweetened" to stay on board, as well as provided with some kind of magic-dancing-lantern show about "enhanced security" . . . which could take months to roll out.

e) Meantime, the casinos' obvious problem is the soon-to-arrive civil liability lawsuits. Nevada judges are "elected," their campaigns funded by the casinos (whether directly or otherwise), as well as by attorneys who appear before them. Those cooperative local judges will probably agree to "bundle" all the negligence suits into one big package, well designed for a single, big "structured settlement."

Is it "fair" that a hotel chain that didn't really have any complicity should be on the hook for a billion dollars? No. But in the real world, trial lawyers will patiently explain, even to decent folk whose first instinct is to say "The hotel didn't cause this; I don't want to sue them," the following:

"Listen: There are GOING to be big negligence/liability lawsuits. Their corporate attorneys will tell those casino bosses 'Sure, we might get the judgments reduced on appeal. But in the meantime do you want your name dragged through the headline mud for months or years, characterized as the greedy bad guys who refuse to even help these folks with their medical costs and lost earnings? You want these ambulance chasers to parade shooting victims -– amputees on crutches, people with permanent nerve damage, crying children weeping for their mommies -– in front of jurors who will get all teary-eyed and decide to play Santa Claus . . . with MGM Resorts footing the bill? And do you know what your legal bills will look like even if you eventually WIN? Trust me: Settle.'

"So," Mr. "Trial Attorney" will continue to his prospective client: "I don't care what kind of Obama-surance you have, these medical bills are going to leave you penniless, AND your injuries could leave you unable to work full-time. Yet you're telling me you're going to let your family eat cold cereal and lose their house, just to be 'noble,' when all you have to do is put your name on the list for a share of that big settlement?"


But the price of that settlement could skyrocket if there's a finding that the casino chain -– despite having known for 16 years that Las Vegas is high on the list of potential "soft targets for terrorism" –- decided to cut costs by getting rid of their pre-2012 armed security force and instead hiring unarmed rent-a-cops who were totally unprepared to respond promptly and aggressively to this kind of incident . . . who couldn't even manage to promptly call the police and tell them they had a security guard shot on the 32nd floor.

And as of Oct. 11, that's exactly what the media were reporting:

From : "Mandalay Bay staffers didn't call cops after security guard was shot."

"Hotel staffers at the Mandalay Bay did not call Las Vegas police until after Stephen Paddock started his mass shooting spree, according to phone records," Chris Perez reported Oct. 11 for the New York Post -– a fairly reliable newspaper in its news columns, even if its gossip columnists just as reliably take it on themselves to pimp for Harvey Weinstein by ridiculing the women he molests ( .)

"An anonymous source who has reviewed the records told ABC's 'World News Tonight' that employees initially refused to alert authorities -— even after security guard Jesus Campos took a bullet in the leg," Perez reported. "Campos reportedly alerted his superiors and informed them about Paddock after being shot by him, but strangely, nobody called the cops, the source said.

"In addition, security staffers failed to notify police when Mandalay Bay maintenance engineer Stephen Schuck told them that he, too, was being fired at.

"'Call the police, someone is firing a gun up here. Someone is firing a rifle on the 32nd floor down the hallway,' Schuck can be heard saying on audio tapes released Wednesday by the hotel.

"The engineer reportedly radioed his employers, letting them know what happened and what room Paddock was in, after being asked by the hotel to do so. Yet nobody did anything.

"According to ABC's source, hotel staff didn't inform authorities about Paddock until after he began killing concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival," Perez of the Post continued.

"Police officials said Monday that Campos was shot roughly six minutes before the 64-year-old retiree opened fire. It's unclear how long after Paddock started shooting that security officials finally called the police.

"Many have questioned the timeline of the Las Vegas massacre in the days following the tragedy -– including MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay.

"The second-guessing began this week after police officials revealed that they had been wrong about the times they originally reported. Instead of being shot before the massacre, cops initially said Campos was targeted about 10 minutes into it."


Oh dear.

So Sheriff Lombardo had to race out and hold a "no questions" press conference last week, revising the "timeline" once again, denying that there was ever any "six-minute gap."

But that didn't stop Tom Conley (a former civilian police captain, senior-level commissioned officer in the United States Navy Reserve, and certified U.S. Department of Defense counter-terrorism instructor) from writing for the "Security" magazine Web site on Oct. 13:

"The Mandalay Bay security guard, who was unarmed and not authorized to carry a firearm by the State of Nevada, was identified as "Larry" Jesus Campos, an employee of Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) and not Mandalay Bay. CSC is a company whose staff wears yellow t-shirts and holds itself out as a company that is the 'leader in Crowd Management and Event Security,'" Conley writes.

(See ) . . . though I'm not sure Conley is entirely right about that.

While the Northridge, Calif.-based CSC was indeed hired to handle security at the outdoor concert that night (and saw one of its employees, Erick Silva, killed), I find indications elsewhere that Campos WAS a Mandalay Bay employee, but that his name has since been mysteriously "scrubbed" from their employee database, and that Mandalay Bay spokesmen will no longer confirm whether Campos is still employed there — an odd development if he was the "hero" praised by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres. (See .)

"Even in the very early stages of this news, I was confused how it was that the killer could have been allowed to keep shooting seemingly unhampered for 11 to 12 minutes (depending on which news report is accurate)," Conley continues. "My first thought was, 'Where the heck was hotel security while all this shooting was happening and while people were dying?'

"The news that the Mandalay Bay had apparently contracted with CSC to provide them with security, if one can even legitimately call it security, was astonishing to me because an 'event staff' level of security is wholly inadequate for the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino," Conley writes.

"The problem was that the security force at the Mandalay Bay was simply unprepared for this event by having an incompetent security program. All their security personnel should all have been well-paid, well-trained and professionally-equipped. Had this occurred, the security guard who got shot in the leg would have been armed and would have been able to return fire right then.

"The remainder of the Mandalay Bay security force should have then followed a 'form up, go up and take action' strategy. This would have placed the Mandalay Bay security team on station within two the three minutes.

"After arriving and moving their injured security officer to a place of safety and rendering first aid to him, the armed security team leadership should have made contact with the shooter while communicating with police units that were inbound. . . ."


All this is pretty optimistic, of course. It all sounds so simple, on a bright and sunny Monday morning. Late on a Sunday night, with a loud concert going on outside, surely a certain amount of confusion and miscommunication could be expected. Though we're also told Metro police officers were already at the casino on an unrelated call. So why weren't they promptly re-deployed?

Funny no one has even bothered to ask whether (and how) Metro's radios were working. It was only five years ago that Metro had to dump a pricey, high-tech $42 million digital radio system that didn't work, at all. . . . ( .) What do they use, now?

"And, had the shooter opened fire on the crowd in spite of the presence of the armed security team, the armed security team then would have needed to conduct a tactical entry in to the shooter's room and neutralize the shooter," Security analyst Conley continues. "If the Mandalay Bay's security was unable or unwilling to do this, then the Mandalay Bay had the wrong security program or the wrong people employed as security officers. The simple truth is the Mandalay Bay's security failed miserably," Conley concludes.

"Instead of investing in a professional security force, the Mandalay Bay apparently decided to go cheap and try and outsource their internal risk to public safety. . . . The truth is, unless protective assets are in place before an incident occurs, the police cannot get to the scene in time to make a measurable difference in the outcome. This is why armed and professionally-competent security officers are and have to be the first responders. I just wonder how many people have to die before all organizations start taking their security for real. . . ."

Though it's easy to play Monday-morning quarterback — and though I still suspect the Mandalay Bay's unarmed "security" forces (level of training unknown) may have been hotel employees, Mr. Conley still has a point.

No one is saying every parking garage attendant at one of these Las Vegas Strip casinos needs to be a 6-foot-4 Green Beret, or that it takes a paramilitary unit with machine pistols to deal with every purse snatcher or slot machine cheat. But these casino outfits rake in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and they've been on official notice for more than 15 years that Vegas is an attractive "soft target" in an era of international terrorism.

What would it cost for each Las Vegas Strip casino to hire a "core" security team of 30 or 40 physically fit former Navy SEALS (or equivalent), of whom seven or eight might be on duty at any time, available to form up as an armed "quick response" team?

Jesus Campos may be a perfectly nice young man, but this does not appear to describe Jesus Campos.