LAS VEGAS (AP) — Officers shouted over blaring alarms and dismissed reports of additional gunfire as they responded to what turned out to be a deadly shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, body camera footage released Wednesday showed.
In one video, police officers move briskly through the university’s business school December 6 amid a loud, shrill sound and called for the alarm to be cut off. Commands were hard to hear and, as one officer noted, there was “blood everywhere” near the fifth-floor door, the footage showed.
The suspect, Anthony Polito, was killed in a shootout with police outside the building about 10 minutes after he fatally shot three professors, police said later. Reports of gunfire well after Polito’s death turned out to be sounds of police trying to break down locked doors to clear classrooms and offices, evacuate students and assess any remaining threats.
More than five hours of video footage released Wednesday was the first of several releases by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which is leading the investigation. Police have not released a motive for the shooting.
The three professors were at the business school when they were killed. They are: Naoko Takemaru, 69, author and associate professor of Japanese studies; Cha Zhang “Jerry” Chang, 64, associate professor in the business school’s Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology; and Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, an accounting professor focusing on research in cybersecurity disclosure and data analytics.
As police searched door-to-door at the business school and surrounding buildings, fears of a second shooter continued for more than 40 minutes, according to video footage.
At one point, a dispatcher is heard on the radio of a police sergeant relaying a report that someone was “shooting through the wall.” Another officer quickly responds, saying, “It’s us. We’re breaking down doors. No shots fired.”
Outside the building, students ate and played games about a week before final exams, which were canceled after the shooting. UNLV’s graduation ceremonies were held this week amid heightened security and memorials for the victims, including a 38-year-old visiting professor who was critically injured.
Police said the wounded professor was shot on the fifth floor of the business school but made it outside the building, where two officers found him and placed him in the back of their patrol car.
One of the videos released Wednesday shows the patrol car driving across a campus lawn. While one officer was driving, the other sat in the back with the victim, the trunk door was wide open as the officer’s legs dangled from the trunk.
Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill later said Polito had a 9 mm handgun and nine ammunition magazines holding more than 150 bullets in him when he died.
The shocking scenes at the 30,000-student campus came just miles from the Las Vegas Strip, where 58 people died in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. The deaths of at least two more people have since been attributed to it October 1, 2017, attack.
Students, faculty members and campus employees barricaded themselves in rooms as officers from nearly every law enforcement agency in Southern Nevada converged on the campus and escorted them away. Many boarded the buses to await questioning by investigators.
Police said Polito, 67, was turned down for teaching positions at UNLV and other schools and taught courses at Roseman University Health Sciences, a private college in suburban Las Vegas between 2018 and 2022.
He left a tenured position in 2017 at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, after teaching business there for more than 15 years.
McMahill characterized Polito as “financially struggling,” pointing to an eviction notice taped to the door of Polito’s Henderson apartment. The sheriff said Polito has “target list” of faculty members from UNLV and East Carolina University, but none of the names of the shooting victims were on it.
University President Keith Whitfield characterized the shooting as “nothing but life-changing” and vowed that students, faculty and alumni “will never forget this day.”
Associated Press writers Ty O’Neill and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Anita Snow in Phoenix contributed to this report. Stern reported from Reno, Nevada. Stern is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. America Report is a national nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.