Updated July 6, 2018 - 7:07 pm
A man was caught with multiple weapons inside a Mandalay Bay hotel room nearly three years before the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, a case that could have implications for civil litigation against the hotel.
One of the six weapons found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th-floor hotel room on Nov. 29, 2014, was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, court documents say. He pleaded guilty in September 2015 to a count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and was sentenced in January 2016 to 40 months in prison with an additional three years of supervised release.
The case came to light Thursday after a procedural motion was filed in response to Mandalay Bay’s recent motion for dismissal of a Feb. 16 lawsuit accusing the hotel and its parent company, MGM Resorts International, of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1 mass shooting.
That night, a gunman opened fire on a country music festival from the hotel’s 32nd floor, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds. The negligence lawsuit, filed on behalf of several victims of the shooting in Clark County District Court, later was moved to U.S. District Court.
In the motion to dismiss the case, filed June 29, attorneys representing MGM Resorts and Mandalay Bay argue that the defendants did not owe a duty to prevent the gunman’s “unanticipated and unforeseeable violence.”
A spokesman for MGM Resorts International said the company had no comment Friday. MGM lawyers also declined to comment.
Plaintiffs seek extension
The plaintiffs’ procedural motion asks that the case be moved back to the county court and for more time to respond to the motion for dismissal, in part because they had learned of the November 2014 incident.
In the motion, plaintiffs call Dunbar’s case “a nearly identical situation” to the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting “short of pulling the trigger.”
“Plaintiffs are not only surprised by defendants’ strong sweeping assertion that such an event was unforeseeable, but are stunned by defendants’ assertion that nothing like the shooting had ever happened before,” the motion says.
Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas attorney representing the plaintiffs, said they had learned of Dunbar’s case in the past few weeks, a discovery he called significant to the lawsuit. Eglet also said the attempt to dismiss the lawsuit was an effort to conceal Dunbar’s case from the public.
“Plaintiffs remain mortified that (MGM Resorts officials) are seemingly intent on hiding this information from the victims, the public, and this, or any court,” the motion says.
Eglet added, “Obviously they had to know about this.”
The plaintiffs also are seeking the extension to look into whether there may have been other such events at the resort or other MGM properties.
Housekeeper discovered weapons
Dunbar was caught when a housekeeper found the weapons after entering a room registered to his wife. Dunbar and his attorney argued that he was going to use the weapons for target shooting with his wife and sister-in-law, but federal investigators disagreed, according to court documents.
Dunbar’s attorney argued that the rifle was lying on the floor, a document indicates.
District Judge Andrew P. Gordon, who issued Dunbar’s sentence, mentioned he did not think that Dunbar was intending to commit an act of violence, according to a transcript of the proceedings. The judge said the housekeeper’s panicked reaction to finding the weapons likely contributed to the concerns of an attack.
“As much as the gun was unfortunately pointed out at the Strip lying on the ground, I don’t believe you were a terrorist,” Gordon said.
The claim the Oct. 1 shooting was unforeseeable was “nonsense” regardless of Dunbar’s intent, Eglet said, because mass shootings are commonplace in the U.S. and Dunbar’s ability to bring the weapons into his hotel room showed it could be done.
Among the six guns found in the room were two semi-automatic rifles, two semi-automatic pistols, a revolver and a bolt-action rifle, according to documents. Authorities found a homemade silencer in Dunbar’s room, and they accused him of building one of the guns himself.
The investigation involved the Metropolitan Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI.
A federal grand jury indicted Dunbar in December 2014 on the count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, the documents show. Dunbar, 32, is incarcerated at the FCI La Tuna federal prison in Texas.
Dunbar was previously convicted in 2010 on a drug charge, in 2011 on a felon in possession of a firearm charge and in 2012 on possession of metal knuckles. He was afforded probation in each of the three cases, all based in California, court records show.