Las Vegas police have arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with shootings at a party bus and off-Strip casino parking lot, authorities said.
Earnest Ruff, 22, was taken into custody Saturday and booked into the Clark County Detention Center, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He faces 33 charges, including eight counts of attempted murder and more than 20 counts of discharging a firearm within a structure or at an occupied structure or vehicle.
The Sept. 26 incidents began when two women fought on a party bus at about 2 am on East Tropicana Avenue near McCarran International Airport, authorities said. One woman who left the bus was shot by a different suspect.
Those involved were from Fresno, California. They were in Las Vegas for a birthday party, police said.
About 90 minutes after the party bus shooting, some at that site later were present at another shooting more than two miles away at the Stage Door Casino parking lot, the newspaper reported. The Stage Door is on the east side of the Strip near the Flamingo and Cromwell resorts. Three people were wounded in the Stage Door incident.
During the shootings at the Stage Door, four men from one group were seen on surveillance video going to the top of the Cromwell parking lot to be in an “overwatch position,” police said.
Police have arrested at least five people in the shootings, the newspaper reported. Some were taken into custody by the department’s gang unit. Initial news reports indicated the shooting victims were expected to survive.
A recent surge in violence on the Las Vegas Strip has created concern about the impact on tourism. Several people have been hospitalized in shootings near different hotel-casinos.
As recently as Friday, one person was shot outside the MGM Grand on the east side of the Strip near the airport. Police said two people were in a fight at about 11:40 pm when one was shot. The victim’s condition was unknown. Authorities arrested a suspect later identified as Tre Holly, 25, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
In response to the increase in violence, the combined city-county police department launched a crackdown that the department calls “Operation Persistent Pressure.”
Authorities have claimed, “a good portion” of the violence is coming from out-of-state gangs and visitors.
Some casinos on the Strip have beefed up their own in-house security in response to the recent rise in violence. These include the Cosmopolitan and the two adjoining Wynn Resorts properties, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.
An industry expert recently told Casino.org that “safety” is the key to getting tourists to return to Las Vegas.
Former MGM Resorts executive Alan Feldman said attracting tourists back to Las Vegas is a “complex, multi-layered issue.” Feldman is a distinguished fellow in responsible gaming at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute.
It involves not only the public health issues of vaccines or other preventative measures, but also safety measures implemented by properties themselves,” he told Casino.org.
Casinos also are requiring employees and customers to wears masks. The properties have implemented other health measures, including social distancing, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.