(CAPTION: A MEMORIAL AT THE BASE OF THE WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAS VEGAS SIGN FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE MANDALAY BAY TRAGEDY.) PHOTO: NORM CLARKE.
In a bizarre twist of timing, resort mogul Steve Wynn revealed a year ago that Wynn Las Vegas was one of the first megahotels in the city to install metal detectors.
“My company has metal detectors and devices at every entrance of the building for employees and guests that are non-visible to the public,” he told ABC affiliate KTNV-TV, Channel 13.
“We have done extraordinary things to make sure that we protect our employees and our guests at the hotel,” he said.
The interview aired on Sept. 30, 2016, one year and one day before the Mandalay Bay shootings, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Visitors at the Wynn Las Vegas were met this week with security metal detection wands.
Why did it take so long?
Gaming companies have balked at the idea for a number of reasons. The powers-that-be have always wanted tourists to come here as an escape from the problems around the world.
Being greeted by metal detectors would send the wrong message and slow the check-in process. So it’s remained a free-flowing experience, and likely will remain so.
However, there are metal detectors in place at a number of major venues like the 4,200-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where Celine Dion performs and other entertainment venues.
How has this tragedy affected the community compared to the Nov. 21, 1980 MGM Grand fire that killed 87 and injured more than 400?
That was caused by an electrical failure. This was the work of someone with pure evil and malice in mind.
Las Vegas has rallied around this tragedy like no other time in its history. Thousands have attended candlelight vigils at churches and along the median on the Strip, near the crime scene and far down to the north end.
I was flown in from the San Diego AP to cover the MGM fire. The first story I filed was about the response by the Barbary Coast, now the Cromwell. Because of its close proximity to the MGM, hundreds took refuge in nightclothes or wrapped in blankets.
The Barbary Coast shut down all gambling operations to assist the wave of humanity. They were given comped meals, beverages and rooms.
It marked one of the rare times a Las Vegas casino suspended gaming operations since the funeral of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
The owner of the Barbary Coast? Michael Gaughan, now the owner of the South Point. He was one of the first of many hotel owners to offer comped hotel rooms to the victims’ family members at the South Point.
Will safety concerns give tourists pause about visiting Las Vegas?
That was one of major concerns after the MGM Grand fire. I was covering the fire for the Associated Press and was assigned to do that story.
I asked a pit boss in Caesars Palace for a response. “The only thing stronger than gambling is garlic,” he said.
Wednesday I interviewed a bachelor/bachelorette party of 12 from Newcastle, Australia. They had taken a limo to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. “We want to show our respect to those affected,” said bride-to-be Selina Jacobs, “but we don’t want Vegas to lose what Vegas is. It’s spirit and uniqueness.”
What was the credit limit of shooter Stephen Paddock, meaning he had to play at a certain level to receive high roller perks.
I’m told MGM Resorts International shut down access to the computers with that information “right away.”
How pervasive are surveillance cameras in Las Vegas?
A longtime local gaming executive said, “We knew every single move visitors made, from check-in to their room. If the shooter had an accomplice, as Sheriff Lombardo is hinting, they know.”
One of the biggest fears of law enforcement over the years is the growing number of soft targets in Las Vegas, like the growing number of outdoor venues?
“I wouldn’t go to a pool party now, would you?” said the former executive. “ The long-held resistance to metal detectors “has got to change,” he said. Days after 9-11, Las Vegas media was given a tour of the surveillance center at Bellagio, which had the newest technology.
Asked if the parent company had metal detectors at the hotels entrances or facial identification technology (as featured in “CSI Las Vegas”), a company spokesman said no.
“That might have been too much then,” said the former executive, “ but in view of what’s happened here, I think people would feel safer now.”
What happened to the many cell phones recovered near bodies and left behind when the crowd stampeded?
An eye witness at the crime scene told me they were collected by law enforcement “Hoping 1. They could extract video and photo evidence. 2. Identify victims and 3. Contact information for loved ones.”
Most chilling images, besides those gunned down, crying for help?
Seeing women late in pregnancy, running for their lives, and their unborn child’s, said a rescuer.
Will concerts ever be held again at the country venue?
In my opinion, MGM Resorts International will think long and hard about that. They can anticipate considerable pushback.
Before seeing the terrifying video from Sunday night my lasting connection with the venue came on Sept. 21, 2013.
It was a blistering hot day session of the iHeart Festival at what was then called the iHeart Village. Miley Cyrus did four songs. I only remember the last two: “Look What They’ve Done to My Song” and the first live rendition of her No. 1 single “Wrecking Ball.”
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