John Noble M buffet suicide

Troubled patron: previously banned from the M buffet and apparently upset about it, John Noble shot himself on Sunday at the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas is known for having a quiet, upscale atmosphere, one that attracts an older crowd and minimal drama, and many locals in particular flock to the M buffet for a treat.

But any serenity at M was shattered on Easter Sunday just before the early bird dinner hour, when a suicide took place near the resort’s buffet in front of many stunned witnesses.

The incident shocked onlookers, many of whom were there with families, including young children, enjoying a quick Easter dinner at the buffet.

Police were called after a report of gunshots at about 4:50 pm local time, and when officers arrived, they found a man who was dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Subsequently identified as 53-year-old John Noble, following a voluminous tome sent to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in anticipation of his own demise, it became clear that he had suffered from troubling mental illness for quite some time by records that were pulled up once his identity became known.

“Today, I end my life due to the M Resort Spa Casino and its employees,” Noble wrote in one suicide note that was inside the 270-page package sent to the paper that also included photos and DVDs, according to the LVR-J.

He blamed situations that unfolded after a 2010 winning of a “free meals for life” plan at the M, a prize that was subsequently revoked when he began harassing female employees at the buffet with presents and inappropriate attention.

Following a prior suicide threat two years ago, also on Easter Sunday, Noble was taken into custody by Las Vegas Metro and taken for a mandatory psychiatric hold at a local state mental facility for observation.

That stay appeared to do little to correct Noble’s actions: he reportedly had an avid and fanatical social media presence, in which he openly attacked M employees by name, especially women who had rebuffed his advances, even going so far as to list their home addresses on the public forums.

Garage Fire Kept Many at Resort for Hours

According to Henderson police spokesperson Michelle French, police also investigated a vehicle fire in the parking garage at M, though the fire wasn’t serious and it wasn’t clear if the two incidents were related.

And while Noble did not apparently attack anyone else around him before shooting himself, the scene was still one of confusion after the incident.

Even those who did not see the suicide heard the gunshot echo throughout the casino, and that sent customers into a panic, running and screaming. However, many then found that they could not leave the resort, because the parking garage was off-limits due to the fire. Some people were forced to wait up to six hours before they could get back to their vehicles.

There were two injuries related to the shooting, both suffered by individuals trying to flee the scene. One person fell and was taken to a local hospital, while another was treated on the scene.

Witnesses Recall Shocking Sights and Sounds

For those who saw the shooting, though, it may leave unfortunate memories for a lifetime, including  13-year-old Sierra Abanilla, online at the buffet when the shooting occurred.

“My brother and I were about [seven feet] away from him, but my grandma was about two steps from him. We heard this loud boom, and it sounded like a balloon that popped but it was too loud to be that,” she told the LVR-J.

The aftermath was frightening for Abanilla, especially considering that it wasn’t immediately clear that the event was a suicide.

“We got to the car, my mom called the police and I called my dad,” she said. “After that I went back out with my grandma and told my brother to stay in the car. I didn’t know what to expect. At the time all we knew was that someone was shot and dead.”

So far, officials at the M Resort have not provided information about the incident.

Las Vegas Suicides

Sin City, despite its surface luster, is no stranger to suicides, with some studies finding that the city is the top destination in the United States for individuals looking to end their lives. According to records dating back to 1998, visitors kill themselves in Las Vegas more than once each month, though many would argue those numbers are much higher.

And while many of these suicides take place out of the public eye in the city’s numerous hotel rooms, some are more spectacular.

The nearby Hoover Dam has been a location that has attracted suicidal individuals; since the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge opened in October 2010, at least seven people have reportedly jumped to their deaths there.