Woman Drives through Crowded Sidewalk on Vegas Strip, Killing One and Injuring 36 Others
A driver ran down pedestrians on a crowded sidewalk on the Las Vegas Strip, killing at least one person and injuring at least 36 others. Police said the vehicular homicide was an “intentional” act. Witnesses said the woman was driving down Las Vegas Boulevard near the Paris Las Vegas Hotel on Sunday night, when the car jumped onto the sidekick to strike several pedestrians.
She returned to the boulevard, but multiple witnesses say she returned to the sidewalk several times in an attempt to run down more pedestrians. When she was finished with her attack on dozens of tourists, the woman then “barreled off” down the Las Vegas Strip, hoping to get away. Authorities say she drove on the sidewalk at least 2 or 3 additional times in a short stretch of road.
Police quickly gave chase and located the woman driving in her car, in which she was driving with a 3-year old. She was arrested unharmed and is undergoing tests for controlled substances and alcohol. Her 1996 Oldsmobile is said to have been registered in Oregon, while the driver is said to have moved to Las Vegas recently. While officials says terrorism has been “ruled out”, they say their initial investigation shows the driver did it deliberately.
Not an Act of Terrorism
Brett Zimmerman of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told reporters point blank, “This was not an act of terrorism. We are treating this as an intentional act.”
Homicide Division officers have taken over the case. They have not released information or pictures of the woman behind the havoc, but she is described as an American female in her mid-20s.
Witnesses Confronted the Driver
One witness, Antonio Nassar, described to local CNN affiliate KLAS a scene best described as pandemonium. Nassar said, “The car rolled right in front of me. By the time I looked over to the right, all you could see was (her) driving away, and people were bouncing off the front of the car.”
Antonio Nassar said he also witnessed the moment she sped into the night. She appeared to be fleeing retribution from the outraged onlookers. Nassar said, “She rode the sidewalk, she came to a stop at the Paris intersection, people are punching into the window…she accelerated again and just kept mowing people down.”
Description of the Scene
Another witness said the woman seemed oblivious to the death and injury she was causing. The unidentified male witness said, “I saw a lady…she didn’t seem like she wanted to stop the car, she had both hands on her wheel, and she was looking straight forward.”
The man added, “I saw men running after her, yelling, ‘stop, stop!’, as she was passing. We saw people running after her. Everyone was so frantic and just running around.”
Bystanders Helped the Victims
Sofie Kitteroed, another witness at the scene, told CNN’s “New Day” that bystanders who avoided being hit rushed to the aid of the victims. Kitteroed said there were people bleeding in seemingly every direction, while ambulance drivers struggled to push through a rush of onlookers to help the victims and drive them to local hospitals.
In the immediate aftermath, the Las Vegas Strip cleared, which is unusual anytime of the year. Joel Ortega, a 31-year old man from California, said police had cordoned off the street for a time. When he and his wife could not walk to the Paris Hotel, they joined a growing pack of onlookers. Ortega said, “At first, I thought it was a movie shoot. I thought maybe we’d see someone famous.”
The Las Vegas Strip has drawn suicide victims over the years, but seldom those who wanted to murder masses of people. One man drove into the lobby of a Vegas Strip hotel last year, while another gunman showed up at a buffet demanding service (he had previously won a lifetime’s supply of buffet meals). This is the first incident where dozens of pedestrians were attacked.
Las Vegas Police Tweeted for Help, Gave Condolences
In the early morning hours, a certain amount of confusion still reigned. Las Vegas police tweeted on their Twitter feed they were looking for reliable witnesses to come forward to provide evidence and insight. The tweet read, “If anyone is still in the area who witnessed the crash, please find an officer on scene, we’d like to get a statement from you.”
The LVMPD later tweeted at 1:35 AM in Las Vegas (4:35 AM Eastern Time): “Our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families involved in this tragic event tonight.”
In the coming days, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will learn all there is to know about the woman. For now, our condolences go out to the victims and their families.
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