A tense situation erupted on the Strip on Thursday morning after a security guard at Harrah’s spotted a lone gunman walking through the parking lot carrying what looked like an AK-47 assault rifle.
Security and Las Vegas police swarmed Harrah’s and closed off a pedestrian walkway as they searched for the suspect.
The tension was lifted after police determined that the man wasn’t armed with an AK-47.
“There was a strong possibility that the weapon this man was carrying was a toy,” said Capt. Curtis Williams of the Metropolitan Police Department’s South Central Area Command.
Police think the man probably bought the item at a nearby convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center for surplus merchandise items, including toy guns.
The incident began about 10 a.m. when a security guard saw an “armed” man walk into the parking garage elevator, going up to the fifth floor.
Police went to the casino and began looking for the man. They viewed surveillance tape from the casino that showed him carrying the gun.
Upon closer inspection, police realized that the rifle the man was carrying was a toy.
By the end of the day Thursday, police had exhausted all leads in trying to locate the man. They alerted Strip casinos to his description in case he popped up.
The incident caused officials to close the entrances to Harrah’s for nearly two hours.
When asked whether police were upset that such realistic toy guns are sold, Williams said that is out of police control.
“You can go to Toys ‘R’ Us and buy a (similar) weapon,” he said.
Thursday’s scare came shortly after two serious incidents of gun violence on the Strip.
On July 6, Las Vegas resident Steven Zegrean, authorities allege, opened fire inside the New York-New York casino, wounding four people with rounds from a 9 mm handgun.
Zegrean is facing multiple charges, including attempted murder with a deadly weapon and battery with a deadly weapon.
About a month later, on Aug. 4, two men were wounded at Caesars Palace after a fight erupted.
Richard Earl Shepherd later turned himself in to authorities and is facing attempted murder charges, among others.