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UNLV shooting: 3 dead, 1 critical; suspect dead, sheriff says

A crowd of Las Vegas Metro Police standing outside.
Lucas Peltier
Las Vegas Metro Police respond to a shooting reported on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Las Vegas.

This is a breaking news story that incorporates wire and staff reports and is being updated. Last update as of 2:01 p.m.

Las Vegas (AP) — Three people were fatally shot Wednesday and a fourth person was critically wounded in an attack on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus, police said. The suspected shooter also was found dead.

The attack just before noon sent police swarming onto the campus, which is just a couple of miles from the world-famous Las Vegas Strip while students barricaded themselves in classrooms. Authorities gave the all-clear about 40 minutes after the first report of an active shooter.

Police haven’t released the identity of the shooter or the motive for the attack. The shootings took place in a city still scarred by an October 2017 attack by a gunman at the Mandalay Bay casino that killed 60 people and wounded hundreds more.

Police said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that three people were killed and a fourth person was in critical condition at a hospital. Authorities didn't immediately provide additional information but planned to give further updates at a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m. PT.

Alerts went out across the campus after callers reported an active shooter to police at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, said Adam Garcia, a university police official. He said officers found and “engaged” a suspect, who is now dead. It was not immediately clear how the suspect died.

Students and professors on the campus of 30,000 barricaded themselves inside classrooms and dorm rooms.

Student John Harris heard what he later realized was a gunshot as he was getting out of his car in the parking garage of an on-campus apartment complex. In the elevator, Harris said he got an emergency text alert text from the university.

“I wasn’t sure what to believe,” said Harris, 21, who ended up sheltering at a friend’s dorm. “But as I came down to the street, and I saw there were a bunch of cops in the parking lot at the student union, I knew what I heard was a gunshot and this wasn’t a drill.”

Professor Kevaney Martin took cover under a desk in her classroom, where another faculty member and three students took shelter with her.

“It was terrifying, I can’t even begin to explain,” Matin said. “I was trying to hold it together for my students, and trying not to cry, but the emotions are something I never want to experience again.”

Martin said she was texting friends and loved ones, hoping to receive word a suspect had been detained. When another professor came to the room and told everyone to evacuate, they joined dozens of others rushing out of the building. Martin had her students piled into her car and drove them off campus.

“Once we got away from UNLV, we parked and sat in silence,” she said. “Nobody said a word. We were in utter shock.”

Police were called about an active shooter on campus at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, said Adam Garcia, a university police official. He said officers found and “engaged” a suspect, who is now dead. It was not immediately clear how the suspect died.

The university said on X, formerly Twitter, that the shooter was at the Beam Hall, Frank and Estella Building, home of UNLV’s Lee Business School, and that police were responding to an additional report of shots fired at the nearby student union.

Campus closures in Southern Nevada

NSHE said at 1:46 p.m. that all Southern Nevada campuses would be closed for the remainder of Wednesday.

The Nevada Wolf Pack Men's Basketball game against UC Davis is still set to go on as planned, a spokesman said Wednesday afternoon. The game tips at 6 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center.

UNR reacts to tragedy

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, UNR President Brian Sandoval called the shooting an unimaginably sad and shocking day for the entire state.

“Although we do not know many of the details associated with this tragic news at the present time, our heart is broken for the students, faculty and staff of UNLV and the community of Las Vegas," Sandoval said. "UNLV is our proud partner in higher education in Nevada, and we stand with the people of UNLV on this terrible day.”

Sandoval also said there is no current threat to the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

The Associated Students of the University of Nevada, the undergraduate student government at UNR, said in a statement that their "hearts go out" to "friends and colleagues" at UNLV and asked school community members to keep the victims in their thoughts.

The organization suggested students reach out to support services on campus if they need it. UNR community members can also call (775) 784-4648.

Reports from the scene in Las Vegas

Student Matthew Felsenfeld said he and about 12 classmates barricaded their door in a building near the student union.

“It’s the moment you call your parents and tell them you love them,” said Felsenfeld, a 21-year-old journalism student.

He said he didn’t hear gunfire or see anyone injured but said he saw out the windows as police staged to enter the neighboring building. a short while later, police came and ushered them out.

Pierre Lescure, a UNLV senior, was riding his bicycle from home to campus for a meeting when he said about 10 police cars drove pass him.

“They drove too fast and there was no ambulance, just cops. It was clearly a shooting,” Lescure said. “It could not be something else.”

An Associated Press reporter saw a team of SWAT officers with FBI insignia move as a group onto campus just before 1 p.m., soon after police reported the dead suspect.

University officials on social media urged anyone on campus to continue sheltering in place, saying: “This remains an active investigation.”

UNLV has more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at its 332-acre campus is less than 2 miles east of the Las Vegas Strip.

The shooting occurred in a city still scarred by one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history, the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas, in which 60 were killed and hundreds more wounded. The UNLV campus is just over three miles from that location.

Initial report by Associated Press reporters Ken Ritter and Rio Yamat. AP reporter Russ Bynum contributed to this report from Savannah, Georgia.

News from The Associated Press, the definitive source for independent journalism from every corner of the globe.
Jose Davila IV reports on K-12 education with a focus on Latino students and families in Northern Nevada and the Eastern Sierra. He is also a first-year Report for America corps member. Es bilingüe, su familia es de Puerto Rico, y ama los tostones de su padre más que nada.
Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.