Officials Review Fatal Shooting In Laughlin, Nevada Of Armed Robbery Suspect Outside Aquarius Casino
Posted on: August 20, 2019, 11:38h.
Last updated on: August 20, 2019, 12:26h.
Authorities are examining how police handled a man who allegedly attempted early Monday to hold up the Golden Nugget and later the Aquarius casinos in Laughlin, Nevada. Following a stand-off, he was shot dead by police after he pointed a gun at them outside the Aquarius, according to police accounts.
The blasts of gunfire took place several hours after the suspect had fired at — but missed hitting — a security officer at the Aquarius.
Following protocol, the officers who fired their guns will be placed on paid leave until the police department and local district attorney review the circumstances surrounding the shooting, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
The incident began at about 1 a.m. when the suspect entered the Golden Nugget Laughlin Hotel & Casino, walked up to the casino cage, and placed his gun on the counter outside of the enclosure. He demanded money from the cashier, according to Las Vegas police Capt. Nichole Splinter.
The employee refused to give him any. The suspect then left.
About a half hour later, the suspect walked into the Aquarius Casino Resort — less than a mile from the Golden Nugget. He went up to the cashier’s window.
“Again, putting a firearm on the counter. Again, demanded money,” Splinter said in a video distributed by Las Vegas police.
But this time, a casino security officer happened to be nearby. “The subject got nervous — started walking away,” Splinter said.
The cashier told the security officer about the attempted robbery. The security officer then notified his colleagues at the casino.
Several security officers followed the suspect as he walked out of the casino into the parking lot.
“The subject confronted one of the security officers, pointed his firearm at him, and fired a round,” Splinter said. “The round did not injure the security officer.”
Las Vegas police were notified about the attempted robbery and shooting. Officers arrived at the casino parking lot as the suspect entered a parked car.
Police ordered him to leave the vehicle. He refused. Then police began to negotiate with the suspect to encourage him to “peacefully” surrender. The negotiations went on for about six hours.
At about 7 a.m., the suspect suddenly left his car. He was still armed. He pointed the firearm at officers.
In response, multiple officers shot the suspect with multiple rounds of ammunition. He was pronounced dead at the parking lot.
The Clark County Coroner’s Office told Casino.org on Tuesday the initial report on the case was still “pending.” As of Tuesday morning, they had not announced the suspect’s identity or an official cause of death.
More details on the incident are likely to be released later this week.
Criminal Justice Expert Praises Casino Security, Nevada Cops
When reached for comment, John Baeza, a retired New York City police officer and detective who is now a criminal justice consultant for NYPDTruth.com in Florida, told Casino.org that the suspect may have wanted to be killed by police all along.
“The alleged robber put his gun down on the counter of the first casino and demanded money. Thankfully, the cashier did not give him any,” Baeza said. “He did the same thing at the second casino where security was notified.
In the end, the subject seemed to want to commit suicide-by-police rather than rob a casino,” said Baeza, who formerly worked at the Manhattan Special Victims Squad, made famous by the TV drama: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
“It may have been his motive. Remember, laying down a gun on a counter is not something a professional robber would do,” Baeza explained. “Robbing a casino in this manner was rather ill thought-out as well. It is not the sign of a professional robber.”
Based on initial reports, Baeza said casino security personnel “performed their jobs with bravery and competence.”
“The police did just as they are trained to do and negotiated with the suspect for some time before he decided to initiate an incident and come out from the car with his weapon aimed at the police,” he added. “The police should be commended for their actions during this incident.”
Based on what he knew about the incident as of Tuesday morning, it “could be used to train officers in the dangers of a suicide-by-cop scenario. It could actually be used as a good example as to what to do for security guards and police officers,” Baeza said.
Baeza also confirmed that casinos are like banks because they are “where the money is.”
But there are cameras everywhere as well as security personnel,” Baeza cautioned any would-be bandits. “And cops are only minutes away. My advice: Don’t rob a casino.”
Sean Hammond, general manager of the Aquarius, said in a statement released to Casino.org, “We are thankful to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, S.W.A.T., and our security team for their quick action to protect our employees and guests. We can confirm that no guests or employees were harmed during this incident.”
The Aquarius — owned by Golden Entertainment — has over 1,900 rooms. The Golden Nugget — owned by Landry’s — has approximately 300 rooms.
The Aquarius parking lot was closed to patrons during and after the incident on Monday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Laughlin, which is Nevada’s third-biggest gaming market, is in Clark County. It is located some 100 miles from Las Vegas. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is the agency responsible for Laughlin under a regional arrangement.