With every passing day, the revelations about last week’s massacre in Las Vegas seem to bring more questions than they do answers.
The week began with authorities upsetting the entire previously understood timeline of the shooting by reporting the incredible fact that mass killer Stephen Paddock had actually wounded a hotel security guard six minutes before he began his murderous assault on the crowd below his Mandalay Bay suite. That guard said he used a hall phone to alert other hotel security about the deadly situation.
On Wednesday, a maintenance worker came forward to report in vivid detail calling in his own alarm that there was an active gunman firing inside the hotel, raising anew the possibility that hotel staff had somehow not alerted authorities immediately that their building’s halls were being raked by gunfire.
So, the hotel apparently took at least two calls from men reporting a murderous gunman was at large on the premises. The question is: What happened after that? And who’s telling the truth about it?
According to the Associated Press, Mandalay Bay maintenance worker Stephen Schuck said he was on the hotel’s 32nd floor on Oct. 1 to check on a jammed fire door when he heard the shots. The wounded security guard, who’d been shot through the door of Paddock’s room, told Schuck to take cover, the AP reported.
“As soon as I started to go to a door to my left the rounds started coming down the hallway,” Schuck said, according to the AP. “I could feel them pass right behind my head.
“It was kind of relentless so I called over the radio what was going on. As soon as the shooting stopped we made our way down the hallway and took cover again and then the shooting started again.”
In the AP’s report, there was no question about the urgency of Schuck’s call to the hotel’s dispatchers:
“Gunshots can be heard in the background as Schuck reported the shooting on his radio, telling a dispatcher: ‘Call the police, someone’s firing a gun up here. Someone’s firing a rifle on the 32nd floor down the hallway.’”
That kind of warning is a sharp contrast with the original story behind the guard’s shooting, which authorities at first said took place when authorities reached Paddock’s hotel room after his attack had begun.
Since the guard called to report the shooting as well as Schuck, it also raises the possibility that the minutes that passed between the first shooting and Paddock’s murderous fire on the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest Festival 32 floors below might have been used to prevent the massacre if authorities had been alerted immediately that there was a gunman in the hotel.
Mandalay Bay’s parent company, MGM Resorts International, is publicly skeptical of the new report.
“We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline,” MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement, according to AP. “We believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.”
MGM Resorts has a good reason for casting doubt on the timeline, since the possibility that the hotel knew about an active shooter on its premises doubtless changes the liability potential it might face in any civil trial over the shootings.
However, opinions differed on how much of an impact the changed timeline would have had on the events of the night.
John Jay College Professor Joseph Giacalone, retired sergeant with the New York City Police Department, told the AP that the new account “changes everything.”
“There absolutely was an opportunity in that timeframe that some of this could’ve been mitigated,” he said.
However, Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director with SWAT team experience told the AP that just knowing the gunman’s location would not have been enough to prevent the slaughter.
“Maybe that’s enough time to get the first patrolman onto the floor but the first patrolman is not going to go knock on that customer’s door and say, ‘What’s going on with 200 holes in the door?’”
True enough. But even skeptics would have to admit there’s a real good chance that having a cop at the door might be at least a distraction to a man bent on murdering innocent people in the street below.
Nicole Rapp, whose mother attended the concert and was knocked to ground by the fleeing crowd, might have spoken for the rest of the country with her response to the latest revelations.
“It’s very confusing to me that they are just discovering this a week later,” she said. “How did we not know this before? It’s traumatic for the victims and their families not to be sure of what happened.”
Good questions, all. And any more Las Vegas revelations are likely to bring even more questions in the days ahead.
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