Shootout at Arkansas Casino Leaves Security Officer Hospitalized

Posted on: March 12, 2021, 03:20h. 

Last updated on: March 12, 2021, 04:32h.

A security officer at an Arkansas casino was shot in the stomach late Thursday during a gunfight with patrons outside the resort, according to news accounts.

Saracen Casino Resoert
An Arkansas television station reports on a gunfight at a Pine Bluff casino. A security officer was wounded in the incident. (Image: KARK-TV)

The incident at Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff began about 11:15 pm when security officers escorted several patrons outside, according to KTHV-TV. The patrons had been involved in a disturbance inside the casino.

On the parking lot, at least two patrons with firearms exchanged gunfire with security officers. One officer was struck during the shootout. He was hospitalized, but was expected to recover, according to KTHV-TV. Authorities by late Friday had not released the security officer’s name.

During the shootout, an exterior wall at the resort and two vehicles in the parking lot were hit with gunfire.

In a live telecast Friday morning, KTHV-TV reporter Michael Aaron said the gunshots on the resort’s outside wall were “circled as part of the investigation.”

It looked like there were several, maybe four or five shots to the corner of the building,” he said. 

The patrons involved in the gunfight got into a car and left the resort. They were in a dark-colored car, possibly a newer model Nissan Altima, according to KTHV-TV.

Police late Friday were seeking five suspects in the incident.

Saracen’s Grand Opening

Saracen is one of three casinos operating in Arkansas. The other two are Southland in West Memphis and Oaklawn in Hot Springs. A fourth casino has been licensed in Russellville, but is tied up in a legal dispute. In 2018, Arkansans voted to approve four fully licensed casinos.

Saracen held a grand opening for its full hotel-casino last fall. It had been operating out of an annex while the resort was under construction. The annex is a former truck stop.

Pine Bluff is about 45 minutes southeast of Little Rock, the capital city. Little Rock is approximately in the center of the state.

Following a COVID-19 shutdown in March, Arkansas casinos have been operating since May 18 with capacity restrictions and health measures in place.

Las Vegas Murder-Suicide

The gunfight in Pine Bluff is the second incident this week involving a casino security officer being shot.

A Wynn Las Vegas security officer and employee died Tuesday in what police said was an apparent murder-suicide. The incident occurred in a remote fifth-floor area of an employee parking garage at the Strip hotel-casino.

Authorities said the security officer, Yoseph Almonte, 31, approached the employee’s car in the parking lot. The employee, 42-year-old Reggie Tagget, shot the security officer multiple times, killing him, police said. Tagget then got out of the car and killed himself with a single gunshot.

Police said there had apparently been no previous connection between the two men.

Four days before the shooting, Tagget went missing, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His mother had gone to his bedroom regarding money he supposedly took from his brother’s bank account. Leaving his cellphone behind, Tagget left the house through a window and drove off in his mother’s car. The family said Tagget had a gun, the newspaper reported.