(NEW YORK) — A gunman opened fire at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Wednesday, killing three and injuring another in a “heinous” incident that shattered the peace of the campus, officials said.
The gunman, who law enforcement officials have not named, went floor to floor in Beam Hall and was only stopped by campus police officers who engaged him in a shootout, according to the authorities.
“What happened today is a heinous, unforgivable crime,” Sheriff Kevin McMahill said during a news conference.
“[T]here was a gathering just outside of the building where the students were playing games and eating food,” he continued. “There were tables set up for them to build Legos, and if it hadn’t been for the heroic actions of one of the police officers who responded, there could have been countless additional lives taken.”
The shooting was first reported at 11:45 a.m., and McMahill said the incident originated on the fourth floor of Beam Hall.
“We heard shots; we heard a bunch of shots, and the second police got there, they went in, and more shots were fired,” UNLV junior Danny Coleman told KTNV ABC 13.
The officers engaged the suspect in a firefight, where he was struck and killed, according to the police.
UNLV said police were working to evacuate buildings one at a time, and students were urged to shelter in place. The order was lifted late Wednesday night, university president Keith E. Whitfield announced in a letter to the community.
Three died in the incident, and a fourth gunshot victim was taken to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in critical condition. Their condition was later upgraded to stable, police said.
Four other students were transported to the hospital suffering panic attacks, according to McMahill. Some law enforcement officers sustained minor injuries in the incident.
“We watched a lot of fear among the men and women at UNLV today. It’s unfortunate they had to go through that,” McMahill said.
Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center confirmed it treated three patients brought to the facility from the scene.
UNLV student Mike Henderson told ABC News that he was in a hallway when the shooting started and immediately ran into a classroom and sheltered in place.
He said he was later escorted out by police and saw someone with their face down, bleeding.
“[It’s] not something I thought would ever happen to me personally,” he said.
Authorities said there is no further threat to the university, which has been closed for the rest of the week as a result of the shooting.
In his message to the university community on Wednesday night, President Whitfield called the incident “unfathomable.”
“We’re all still in shock as we process the unfathomable event,” he wrote. “Members of our community lost their lives, and others were injured. My heart aches for our UNLV family. I know all of us are sending our love and support to the victims, their families, and friends during this difficult time.”
A ground stop that had been initiated at Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport was lifted Wednesday night.
McMahill said law enforcement had identified the now-deceased shooter but did not release the name Wednesday night as next of kin had to be notified. There were no details on the shooter’s motive or the weapon used in the incident.
Gov. Joe Lombardo said in a statement that he was in communication with the school and law enforcement as the investigation continued.
President Joe Biden said he was “praying for the families” affected by the shootings in San Antonio and Las Vegas and praised “courageous” officers “who risked their own safety to bring an end to these deadly shooting sprees,” in a statement on Wednesday.
The president added that he “directed that all necessary support be provided to assist in the investigations and support these communities” while calling on Congress to pass gun safety laws.
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