Las Vegas Stratosphere Shuts Down When Ticking Backpack Found
Posted on: September 22, 2016, 08:57h.
Last updated on: September 22, 2016, 10:05h.
The Stratosphere in Las Vegas was evacuated on Wednesday, in response to the discovery of a suspicious ticking backpack in the casino. In the wake of recent pressure cooker homemade bombs being found in lower Manhattan in New York, as well as in Elizabeth, New Jersey earlier this week, authorities were taking no chances.
According to local reports, Metro’s CBRNE (chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, and explosives) task force rushed to the scene and evacuated guests and staff from the casino and the floor above.
Traffic was also shut down near the intersection of East St. Louis Avenue and the North end of the Las Vegas Strip where the Stratosphere towers above everything else: it’s the highest structure in not only Sin City, but all of Nevada.
Stratosphere security described discovering a mysterious backpack making ticking and beeping sounds. On closer inspection, it was found to be a false alarm, with the bag simply containing medical equipment, police said.
A recent measure passed in Las Vegas limits the presence of backpacks at certain high-density events, such as New Year’s Eve and July Fourth celebrations on the Strip.
The extra precautions highlights public jumpiness following the recent bomb attacks in New York, and the realization that Las Vegas, as a gambling hub and major tourist destination, must be considered a target of terrorism.
Tourists have been specifically targeted by ISIS, notably in Turkey and Tunisia, because terrorists see weakening the tourism industry as a way to harm the economies of their enemies. In June, ISIS released a video threatening to attack the Las Vegas Strip, as well as San Francisco.
On Wednesday, however, Metro Captain Andrew Walsh moved to assure visitors that the threat to Las Vegas was low.
“This started because hotel security was doing their job,” he said. “They saw something and they said something. We were prepared to respond to it with the resources you see out here. Come to Vegas, it’s a safe place to be and we’ll keep you safe while you’re here.”
It’s not just in Las Vegas that people are showing hyper-vigilance these days, of course.
Earlier this year, a German casino was completely evacuated due to a perceived bomb scare, which turned out to be caused by a vibrating sex toy in a trashcan. According to German media, an employee of the Casino Halberstadt panicked after hearing a ticking and vibrating noise emanating from a receptacle in the men’s restroom.
The entire block was cordoned off before the bomb squad was able to neutralize the offending article. Police said the battery-operated device was turned to its “highest setting.”
The Stratosphere itself had a major security scare last year when an Indiana man rammed his Ford F-150 pick-up truck straight through the casino’s main glass doors and into the lobby. Amazingly, no one was hurt. The driver, Ryan Brown, was wrestled to the ground by security. It turned out he had been on a six-day drug binge and said he was looking for his 15 minutes of fame.
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