Four dead in 80th school shooting this year: What we know about Las Vegas college attack

Law enforcement at the campus  (AP)
Law enforcement at the campus (AP)

A shooting incident on a college campus in Las Vegas on Wednesday has left three people dead and another seriously injured.

The suspect, who has been identified by police – though not publicly – was killed during a shoot-out with officers shortly after the attack began.

Although authorities later reassured the commmuntity that there was “no further threat”, many questions still remain, largely to do with the shooter and their motive.

Here’s what we know so far:

What happened?

Just after midday on Wednesday the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) said it was responding to reports of an active shooter at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus.

The force reported “multiple victims” and students were advised via social media to “run, hide, fight” or take shelter.

Shortly after its initial advisories the LVMPD announced that the suspect had been contained and that they were dead.

At a press conference shortly afterwards, sheriff Kevin McMahill said there was “no further threat” to the community.

Where did the shooting take place?

The shooting took place in the Beam building on the UNLV campus. Police said that the attack is believed to have started on the fourth floor of the building and spread over multiple floors.

The suspect was said to be dead at the scene (Las Vegas Sun)
The suspect was said to be dead at the scene (Las Vegas Sun)

The suspect in the shooting was later shot and killed outside the building, in a “shoot-out” with police.

The campus is located less than two miles east of the Las Vegas Strip. It was there in October 2017 that 60 people were killed after a gunman opened fire on a concert crowd gathered near the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

The 2017 incident was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in US history.

How many victims?

A post on X/Twitter from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that three victims had been killed during the shooting on Wednesday.

The force said that an additional victim was also at a local hospital “in critical condition”. Their condition was later upgraded to “stable”.

The suspect in the incident is also deceased, according to police.

Mr McMahill said two officers were also injured during searches for students hiding in the “vast rooms and buildings” on the university campus.

A reunification centre was later set up at the Las Vegas convention centre to help victims of the shooting.

“If you can’t get a hold of your loved ones right now, your kids or somebody that you’re concerned with, then that would be the place to go and to try to go ahead and do that reunification,” said fire chief John C Steinbeck.

Who was the killer?

Sheriff McMahill said that police were aware of the identity of the suspected gunman, but that it would not be shared with the public or media until the families of the victims were informed.

CNN later reported that the suspect in the UNLV shooting was a 67-year-old career college professor.

Citing law enforcement sources, the outlet reported that the suspect has connections with schools in Georgia and North Carolina, but it is unknown what connection the suspect had with the UNLV.

What was the motive?

Police currently do not have a motive for the killings, and said investigations would likely take a long time.

Mr McMahill told the press conference: “We will be conducting this investigation into the wee hours of the morning, there is no doubt.

“I know you have an insatiable appetite like I do to find out why, to understand motivation, and we will provide that to you at the appropriate time.”

Will students return to campus in the coming days?

Adam Garcia, from the University Police Services – Southern Command, said that all higher education campuses in southern Nevada would be closed following the incident out of “an abundance of caution”.

Mr Garcia did not immediately say when the campuses would reopen, but it was later confirmed that they would remain closed on Thursday and Friday.

Further determinations will be made as to whether or not the university will reopen next week, which will be finals week for students.

Police work the scene after a shooting on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus (AP)
Police work the scene after a shooting on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus (AP)

One UNLV student told ABC News he was unsure if many would want to return to the campus immediately following the incident.

“Thank gosh, it’s near the end of semester so we can have a month off for people to recover and hopefully we can grieve about this and come together as a community to pass this and go into next semester, but I don’t know I’m super nervous, I’m nervous about next semester,” he said.

A scheduled basketball game, due to take place between UNLV and the University of Dayton on Wednesday night, was also cancelled following the shooting.

Further reaction

The mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, sent condolences on behalf of the city to the families of those affected by the shooting.

“The families that have lost, who’ve had this tragedy, bespeak everything that is not good about our country, what’s wrong and how we have to teach our children to handle stress and be able to work through anger and hate and other ways,” she told a press conference.

“It’s a very difficult time and it’s time for us as the adults – enough, it is enough and they’re just people filled with anger or not understanding how to handle disappointment in their lives, that they become even more hateful and full of anger and take lives of others.”

Campuses in southern Nevada will remain closed on Thursday and Friday (AP)
Campuses in southern Nevada will remain closed on Thursday and Friday (AP)

President Joe Biden also remarked on Wednesday’s shooting, as well as others that had taken place in Texas in recent days.

“Jill and I join citizens across our nation in praying for the families of our fallen, and for those who were injured during these latest acts of senseless violence,” he said.

“We are also grateful for the courageous work of law enforcement—who risked their own safety to bring an end to these deadly shooting sprees.

“Federal law enforcement officials are on the ground working with State and local law enforcement in both states and I have directed that all necessary support be provided to assist in the investigations and support these communities.”

In a statement shared with The Independent, the president of national gun violence organisation Brady said students at the UNLV campus would feel the “ripple effects” of Wednesday’s events for “the rest of their lives”.

"Just as our nation hit a devastating record for mass shootings this year, students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – who have been subject to active shooter drills since childhood – will feel the ripple effects of today for the rest of their lives,” said Kris Brown.

“We should not accept a reality where an entire generation of Americans are defined by the constant threat of gun violence.

“America’s children are being gunned down at an alarming rate, and firearms are now the number one cause of death for our kids. How many more of our children have to be shot or irrecoverably traumatized by gun violence before we alter America’s relationship with firearms?”

Joe Biden condemned recent gun violence in Las Vegas and Texas (AP)
Joe Biden condemned recent gun violence in Las Vegas and Texas (AP)

Ms Brown continued: “UNLV is just a stone’s throw away from the site of the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

“Our thoughts are with the students and the Las Vegas community, and we hope for the future of our country that change will come.”

How bad is US gun violence?

According to analysis by CNN, Wednesday’s shooting at UNLV marks the 80th US school shooting this year.

Of those, 51 shootings have been reported on K-12 campuses and 29 on university and college campuses, according to the outlet. This figure includes the latest shooting in Las Vegas on the UNLV campus.

In his remarks, Mr Biden highlighted that in 2023 the country had experienced more than 600 mass shootings, and approximately 40,000 deaths due to gun violence.

“This is not normal, and we can never let it become normal,” he said.