UNLV shooting suspect dead after 3 killed on campus, police say

Three people were killed and one person was wounded in a shooting on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus Wednesday afternoon, police said. The suspect was killed by officers who rushed to the scene at UNLV and there was no ongoing threat to the community, police said later on Wednesday.

Two law enforcement sources told CBS News the gunman, who they described as a white male in his sixties, was a former college professor who had previously taught in Georgia and North Carolina. 

Sheriff Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said at a Wednesday evening news conference that police know the identity of the suspect but would not release his name until the families of the victims are notified. But CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV reports that its sources identified him as Anthony “Tony” Polito. The sources said Polito recently applied for a job at the university but didn’t get it. He may have also had a connection to a person who works on campus, KLAS sources said.

McMahill had said earlier in the day that police did not know the suspect’s motive. 

The first call about the active shooter came at about 11:45 a.m. local time, after which metropolitan and university police immediately responded, shooting and killing the suspect outside of Beam Hall, McMahill said. The shooting originated on the fourth floor of the building.

In addition to the three people killed, one person was taken to an area hospital with a gunshot wound. The person was in stable condition, McMahill said. Four other people were hospitalized after suffering panic attacks. 

Two police officers received minor injuries while searching the campus’s rooms and buildings for more victims, McMahill said.

McMahill said that, during the attack, there was a gathering outside Beam Hall that included people eating and building Lego sets together. He said there could have been many more deaths if responding officers had not “raced to the campus” within minutes and engaged in armed contact.

“No student should have to fear pursuing their dreams on a college campus,” McMahill said, calling the incident “a heinous, unforgivable crime.”

People leave campus with raised hands following reports of a shooting at the University of Nevada campus of Las Vegas, Dec. 6, 2023.

From video obtained by Reuters

Sunrise Hospital Trauma Center confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that it had received three patients from the shooting, according to trauma medical director Chris Fisher.

A reunification center for families unable to contact their loved ones was opened at the campus’s North Hall, Clark County Fire Chief John C. Steinbeck said at an afternoon news conference. 

A federal law enforcement official told CBS News the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were responding and offering assistance with the investigation to the metropolitan police.

Police are seen at the scene of a shooting on the UNLV campus on Dec. 6, 2023, in Las Vegas.

Madeline Carter/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

UNLV will remain closed for the week, and additional determinations will be made about whether it will reopen on Monday, university police chief Adam Garcia said at the evening news conference.

President Biden addressed the shooting in a statement Wednesday and called for measures to address “the epidemic of gun violence we face.”

“Just hours ago, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas became the latest college campus to be terrorized by a horrific act of gun violence,” Mr. Biden said in the statement, in which he also addressed shooting deaths in Austin and San Antonio, Texas.  
“For all the action we have taken since I’ve been President, the epidemic of gun violence we face demands that we do even more. But we cannot do more without Congress,” Mr. Biden wrote while urging Republican lawmakers to help pass an assault weapons ban and universal background checks, among other measures.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called the news “tragic and heartbreaking.” 

“Praying for everyone on campus as law enforcement responds to the situation,” she wrote.

University president Brian Sandoval said this was “an unimaginably sad and shocking day for our entire state.”

“We send our deepest sympathies and our thoughts are with the families of the multiple victims of this terrible tragedy. Today and in the days to come we are all Rebels,” Sandoval wrote on social media.

Pat Milton and Andy Triay contributed reporting.

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