At least three people were killed and another was critically injured after a gunman opened fire at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus on Wednesday.
Police announced that a suspect was dead after officers responded to reports of an active shooter just before noon local time. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Kevin McMahill emphasized at a brief news conference that the situation was contained.
“I want to assure the community there’s no further threat,” McMahill said. “Of course, we have no idea on the motive.”
The suspect was a man in his 60s who died in a shootout with police, Adam Garcia, the director of the university’s police service, said at a news conference later in the day.
According to ABC News and The Associated Press, the shooter had applied for a professor job at UNLV but was unsuccessful. He was also previously employed at East Carolina University in North Carolina, AP added. However, the name of the suspect has not yet been released until his family can be notified of his death, CNN reported.
Authorities were seen swarming Beam Hall, located south of the city center. The building is home to the university’s Lee Business School and sits opposite the student union, where additional shots were reportedly heard.
Students had been preparing for final exams, which were set to begin next week.
Nicole Thomas, a UNLV graduate student pursuing her doctorate, told HuffPost she had been sheltering in place after a campus-wide alert went out at 11:51 a.m. local time.
She shared a series of messages advising anyone in the Student Union to “RUN-HIDE-FIGHT,” an active-shooter response strategy that recommends fighting back as a last resort. Three similar alerts in quick succession then warned of a similar threat at nearby Beam Hall.
“I’m horrified and sad that this is happening to my community,” she said.
Roughly 25,000 students attend UNLV, including 4,700 graduate students.
McMahill said at a Wednesday evening news conference that if police did not act as quickly as they did, more students could have been hurt.
“There was a gathering just outside of the building where the students were playing games and eating food,” McMahill said. “There were tables set up for them to play Legos, and if it hadn’t been for the heroic actions of one of those police officers who responded, there could’ve been countless additional lives taken.”
Less than an hour passed between initial reports of the shooting and its apparent end, although the University of Nevada asked the campus to keep sheltering in place while officers worked to clear buildings one by one.
“This remains an active investigation,” the university told its students.
The university will be closed for the rest of the week, CNN reported.
Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center spokesperson Marissa Mussi confirmed to HuffPost that one patient had been transferred to the facility.
President Joe Biden addressed the shooting later Wednesday, as well as another spree this week in Texas, saying UNLV was the “latest college campus to be terrorized by a horrific act of gun violence.”
“For all the action we have taken since I’ve been President, the epidemic of gun violence we face demands that we do even more. But we cannot do more without Congress,” Biden said in a statement. “Together, we must do more to prevent more families, and more communities like Austin, San Antonio, and Las Vegas, from being ripped apart by gun violence.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also responded to the shooting in a statement on Wednesday, according to NBC News.
“It’s a very difficult time, and it’s time for us as the adults — enough. It is enough,” Goodman said. “And it is people filled with anger or not understanding how to handle disappointment in their lives that they become even more hateful and full of anger that they take lives of others.”
Las Vegas was the site of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history in October 2017, when a single gunman opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel overlooking a crowd. He fired more than 1,000 rounds, killing 58 people and injuring more than 400 people attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
In 2019, the Nevada Legislature approved several gun violence prevention bills, including banning bump stocks, which allow a shooter to rapidly fire multiple rounds.
So far in 2023, the U.S. has seen 630 mass shootings in which at least four people were shot or killed, according to a count by the Gun Violence Archive. Wednesday’s shooting at UNLV marks the 80th school shooting this year, CNN reported.
Shortly before the Las Vegas shooting, Senate Democrats in Washington attempted to pass a nationwide assault weapons ban. Republicans blocked it.
Paige Skinner, Nick Visser, Taiyler S. Mitchell and Marita Vlachou contributed to this report.