3 killed in shooting, fiery Las Vegas crash
Vegas police are looking for an SUV that sped away from the scene
By Ken Ritter
LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Strip became a scene of deadly violence early Thursday when someone in a black Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati at a stoplight, sending it crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.
Police were checking with nearby businesses to see whether a previous altercation prompted the car-to-car attack at Las Vegas and Flamingo boulevards, the site of several major casinos, including Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally's.
"This doesn't happen where we come from, not on this scale," said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. "We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like `Die Hard' or something."
Police were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport with tinted windows and paper dealer plates that fled the scene about 4:30 a.m.
Police said the Maserati hit the taxi cab, which went up in flames, and the driver and passenger were killed. The male driver of the Maserati also died, and his passenger was shot.
"What is the genesis of this, when did this all start? We don't know yet," Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said.
Tourists staying in high-rise hotels around the scene found police tape blocking access to the area around the intersection. Closures were expected to last most of the day.
Jeff Martin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, said he was unable to cross the Strip several hours after the incident.
"When you're out at 4 a.m. nothing good's going to happen," he said.
Sheahan said the attack was not a rolling gun battle as previously described. The cars were stopped at a light when at least one person in the Range Rover opened fire. Several people were inside the vehicle, described as a four-door SUV with big black rims.
Six other vehicles were involved in the crash that followed, including the taxi and Maserati. The taxi was affiliated with Desert Cab company, according to general manager Sandy Shaver. He declined to comment further.
The driver and rear passenger were dead at the scene. The taxi might have been propane-powered.
The incident marked the latest violence on the Strip since the beginning of the year. Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.
A spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Jeremy Handel, said his organization didn't immediately have a comment on the latest incident and deferred to police.
Las Vegas Police Officer Jose Hernandez acknowledged that the Strip has seen several violent incidents in recent weeks but said police have made arrests or identified suspects in each case.
"People don't have to worry," he said. "This is an unusual occurrence, as tragic as it may be."
Sheahan said police have video from traffic cameras at the intersection and were checking whether the shooting might have been sparked by an altercation at a nightclub.
"We have a lot of pieces to put together to establish a timeline as to why this confrontation occurred," Sheahan said. "We have numerous detectives checking resorts on the Strip south of this intersection."