Ongoing Las Vegas Strip Gunfire, Violence Prompts Police to Boost Presence During ‘Bewitching Hours’

Posted on: October 17, 2020, 06:31h. 

Last updated on: October 17, 2020, 06:38h.

With a surge in violence at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo says the department has beefed up its late-night presence in tourist areas.

Officers stand guard at a recent shooting scene near the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Police have increased their presence on the Strip to quell gunfire and other violence. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Lombardo said the recent violence would be “a big problem” and could hurt tourism if the police department ignored it, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. However, the department has increased its nighttime patrols about 20 percent on the Strip from Thursdays through Saturdays. He called Friday and Saturday nights the “bewitching hours.”

As the elected sheriff, Lombardo oversees the combined city-county Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The department has responded in recent weeks to gunfire that left several people wounded at or near Strip casinos.

On Oct. 11, one man was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the leg in a drug transaction near the Miracle Mile Shops, police said. The shops are connected to the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino on the Strip. The shooting was captured on an eyewitness video that KSNV-TV posted on its website.

Out-of-State Gangs

In addition to stepping up its uniform patrol presence, the police department has put more undercover officers in tourist areas, Lombardo said.

The sheriff said he is “100 percent confident” police will be able to handle the problem, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“We’ve allocated a significant amount of resources to address it,” the sheriff said.

A police captain recently told county officials that “a good portion” of the violence is coming from out-of-state gang members and visitors. Lombardo said 55 percent of people recently arrested have been from out of state, according to the newspaper. In a television interview, the sheriff said drug and alcohol usage could be contributing to the problem.

At least 20 resorts line the Strip in a three-mile stretch from the Sahara hotel-casino on the northern end to the Mandalay Bay at the southern end.

With the opening of the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino on Oct. 8, most resorts on the Strip are operating again. Gov Steve Sisolak (D) ordered casinos and other business statewide to close in March at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. He gave casinos the green light to reopen June 4. Some opened right away, while others began operating again later in the summer and early fall.

Metal Detectors

In addition to shootings, violence on the Strip has included fights and other assaults. At the Encore hotel-casino, a fight in early September caused an estimated $15,000 in damage at the property.

In response, a Wynn Resorts spokesperson said the company would raise room rates and boost security at its properties. Wynn Resorts owns the Encore and Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip. The company also filed a lawsuit against 20 unnamed men and women involved in the fight.

On weekends, guards the Wynn Resorts properties are scanning guests with a metal detector and checking their bags. The Cosmopolitan hotel-casino on the Strip has implemented similar security measures.

The Encore also is temporarily scaling back on the days it will remain open. The company said in a statement that this is in response to low consumer demand. Staring Oct.19, the resort will be open only from Thursdays at 2 pm until Mondays at noon.

At least two other properties on the Strip, the LINQ and Planet Hollywood hotel-casinos, are accepting room reservations only on weekends.