Homicide detectives are working to learn the motive of a murder-suicide Friday night at the lobby of a Strip resort, a Las Vegas police official said Sunday.
Homicide Lt. Ray Steiber said the full relationship between the man who fatally shot 30-year-old Jessica Kenny and then turned the gun on himself at the Excalibur is unknown.
But what is known is that the Illinois man believed to be in his early 30s, was out for bloodshed. Steiber said he targeted Kenny.
“This is an isolated incident,” he said Sunday afternoon, making the first public comments by police of a possible connection between the shooter and victim.
“We know there was some sort of relationship between the two. Whether it was a boyfriend and girlfriend, we haven’t confirmed yet.”
Police have not released the identity of the shooter.
Steiber said detectives are still working to contact the right people who knew the suspect and victim in order to piece together a motive.
A chaotic scene unfolded Friday night after the gunshots erupted about 8:30 p.m. in the hotel-casino at the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard.
While people were trying to come to grips with the mass-shooting in Connecticut only hours old, police said the gunman walked into the Excalibur then shot the concierge multiple times, Kenny, before shooting himself.
Kenny died at University Medical Center about two hours later.
The gunman was believed to have died on scene.
The gunfire caused panic. Screaming people fled in all directions looking for safety.
Kenny worked for Vegas.com, and her job as a vendor at the hotel was to answer questions for guests. She was described by employees as “sweet” and “amazing.”
Kodjo Vivor, who sells time shares inside the hotel, told the Review-Journal on Saturday that Kenny told him earlier this month her former boyfriend, after three years of separation, was back in Las Vegas from Illinois.
Kenny told Vivor she didn’t want to get back with him because “he’s crazy.”
Steiber said there were hundreds of people near the lobby when the gunman began shooting.
He said as of Sunday afternoon, detectives were still talking to witnesses that totaled in the dozens.
Friday was not the first time a high-profile act of violence occurred on the Strip .
In the summer of 2011, four people were killed in unrelated homicides along Las Vegas Boulevard, including two on pedestrian walkways.
In another case, a man fatally punched another man after a confrontation in a bathroom at the now-closed O’Shea’s.
In September 2008, a 23-year-old prostitute fatally stabbed another prostitute in the neck in the lobby at Bally’s. They were fighting over their pimp.
A year earlier, a man was killed by a homemade bomb blast at the Luxor’s parking garage. The bomb had been placed by the ex-boyfriend of the man’s girlfriend.
Earlier in 2007, Steven Zegrean opened fire at New York-New York, spraying bullets down on the casino floor and wounding four unsuspecting tourists. Several bystanders tackled him, stopping the attack.
He was sentenced to 90 years in prison after being found guilty at trial.
Steiber said violence on the Strip is rare. He said with all the surveillance cameras and security guards at casinos, some of whom are armed, resort-casinos are safe.
He said although some people might have knee-jerk reactions, and call for additional safeguards at casinos such as metal detectors, not much could be done to prevent Friday’s shooting.
“He was committed,” Steiber said of the gunman. “There isn’t anything anybody could have done. Nobody would have had knowledge of this.”
Steiber said the investigation into the shootings at the Excalibur is ongoing.
The murder-suicide garnered national headlines in the wake of the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were fatally shot.
Steiber said tourists and residents alike should feel as secure as they always have when out on Las Vegas Boulevard.
“We don’t want the public to feel there is all of a sudden a problem,” Steiber said. “That’s not the case. … We are working to find the root cause of why this occurred.”
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at email@example.com or 702-383-4638.