weather icon Clear

Homeland security officials praise Las Vegas shooting response

Updated December 6, 2017 - 7:11 pm

Emergency responders drew praise Wednesday at a Nevada Homeland Security Commission meeting for their heroic work during the Oct. 1 mass shooting outside Mandalay Bay.

“Situations like these really bring out the best and the worst in people, and we truly saw the best,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval, who chairs the commission. “We are a family, a Nevada family, and we came together unlike any other time.”

The shooting, the worst in modern American history, left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured at a concert site across from Mandalay Bay. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, was found shot to death in his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay room.

Sandoval said the strong response to the massacre was the result of ongoing training by emergency responders.

Caleb Cage, chief of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, echoed the governor’s words, calling the response “textbook” and something that will be seen as a model for success in communities for years to come.

John Steinbeck, a deputy fire chief who serves as Clark County’s emergency manager, said police, firefighters and paramedics responded with unprecedented cooperation that he described as “truly remarkable.”

But Steinbeck pointed to some communication problems.

He said it was a challenge early in the mass shooting to get accurate information to victims and first responders. Erroneous reports of multiple shooters surfaced.

How well first responders communicated during the Route 91 concert massacre will be analyzed in an ongoing review of the shooting, Steinbeck said.

Clark County Fire Chief Gregory Cassell, a member of the Homeland Security Commission, said the regional cellphone system was overloaded and hampered communication at the site of the shooting and across the valley.

“There were so many phones calls, there were so many people who jumped on board, that we lost services for a while,” he said.

Federal authorities are now trying to determine how the cellphone system can be improved in times of heavy use, Cassell said.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, both commission members, said authorities need to consider what they’ve learned from the response to the shooting when they apply for new homeland security funding in 2018.

Even as the praise flowed Wednesday, questions about the shooting remain, including when Mandalay Bay security officer Jesus Campos was shot in the leg outside Paddock’s hotel room.

Las Vegas police initially reported that Campos came under fire from Paddock sometime after the shooting, which began at 10:05 p.m. on Oct. 1. But they changed that narrative after MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, disputed it. Police then said Campos was struck sometime within 40 seconds of the shooting.

Authorities have yet to clarify when exactly Campos reported the shooting to hotel staff, when exactly Campos reported that he had been shot and when exactly hotel staff reported the shooting to police.

The time line has become critical in the growing litigation over whether MGM Resorts, one of the state’s most politically powerful companies, was negligent in the shooting.

Questions remain about whether Mandalay Bay should have done more to track the movements of Paddock, a high-rolling slot machine player who was able to sneak a cache of high-powered weapons into his room.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
'Evangelicals for Trump' event draws hundreds to Las Vegas hotel - VIDEO
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters packed the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas for a faith-based campaign event. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak names new DETR director, head of unemployment task force - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak named Elisa Cafferata acting director of Nevada’s Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation and announced Barbara Buckley as the leader of a rapid response team on unemployment insurance at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak unveils long-term COVID-19 plan with Nevada Health Response team - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday a long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada through a targeted approach. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)