Las Vegas campus shooter sent ‘white powder’ letters to 22 universities, police say
Las Vegas police have released new video purportedly showing suspect Anthony Polito moments after his shooting rampage at the University of Nevada‘s Las Vegas campus.
The video shows a man being taken down by police officers outside the building where Polito is believed to have killed three faculty members and injured another on Wednesday.
The footage emerged after investigators revealed that 67-year-old Polito had a “target list” – but none of his alleged victims were on it.
Polito was also said to have sent 22 letters “to various University personnel across the country” with no return address prior to the attack.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) said that the first letter to be intercepted by investigators contained “an unknown white powder” and urged anyone who had received such mail to contact authorities.
Police previously confirmed that Polito was a career college professor who had applied for – but failed to be accepted for – a job at UNLV.
Two of the victims of the shooting were identified as professor Cha Jan Chang, 64, known as “Jerry,” and assistant professor Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, of Las Vegas.
Winter graduations at UNLV to proceed as planned
Keith Whitfield, president of UNLV, said that winter graduation ceremonies at the college would continue as planned on December 19 and 20, in spite of the shooting.
Mr Whitfield said he had heard from students and parents and that “One common thread that emerged was a desire to come together” in the aftermath of Wednesday’s tragedy.
“The milestone moment of commencement is the most special day on the university calendar, and it’s in difficult times like these that we can and should celebrate our graduates’ academic dreams fulfilled.
“We know that the trauma of this week’s tragedy impacts each one of us in different ways. For those eligible to participate in this winter’s commencement who choose not to attend at this time, you will have the option to walk and participate fully during the May 2024 commencement ceremonies.
“We believe these decisions regarding finals and commencement provide flexibility for both students and faculty, and offer the best path forward for our university.”
In a statement posted to the UNLV website, Mr Whitfield also thanked the students, faculty and staff.
“Your resilience amidst near insurmountable adversity continues to amaze me. In the short time since Wednesday’s incident, I’ve met with some of you to listen and to learn, and I acknowledge the pain, fear, and anxiety that many are experiencing right now. I feel it too,” he said.
Mike Bedigan8 December 2023 19:30
All in-person final exams at UNLV cancelled
All in-person, on campus final exams at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas have been cancelled, president Keith Whitfield has announced.
Prior to Wednesday’s tragic events, the exams had been scheduled to take place next week.
“We are providing flexibility for faculty and instructors – as well as students – to bring this semester to a positive end,” a statement from Mr Whitfield read.
Students will end the semester with the grade they have earned based on work completed before December 6, though some faculty may opt to offer an optional online final exam or take-home project before December 18, allowing students an opportunity to improve their grade.
Mike Bedigan8 December 2023 19:04
Revealed: UNLV shooter’s ‘obsession’ with Las Vegas and student reviews
Martha McHardy has the full story.
Mike Bedigan8 December 2023 18:50
Female student ‘felt preyed’ on by UNLV shooter
A woman who was taught by the UNLV shooter Anthony Polito said she “felt preyed” on while taking a course taught by the college professor during her senior year in 2012.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, told NBC that what began as a mentor-mentee relationship escalated into his pursuing her in a way that made her uncomfortable.
“I initially brought my résumé and my cover letters and stuff, like, just for him to review, but it just slowly became apparent that it was not as innocent,” she told the outlet.
The woman said Polito would try to have contact with her every day for nearly the entire semester, through emails and texting. She added that Polito also bought her gifts and eventually invited her to Las Vegas.
“I think that’s about when I was like ‘I have to cut this man off because he got the wrong idea,’” she said, noting that she was in her early 20s and that Polito not only was her professor but also much older than her.
“I felt preyed upon,” she said.
The woman told NBC that Polito never touched her inapproprately or acted out after she ended communication with him, and had never thought to report him because he was well-respected on campus.
“It was just so bizarre,” she said, adding that she was surprised that Polito had been accussed of Wednesday’s shooting.
Mike Bedigan8 December 2023 18:18
What happened in the UNLV shooting?
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department chief Kevin McMahill said Anthony Polito was armed with a handgun and a stash of ammunition when he allegedly shot four faculty members at around 11.45am on Wednesday morning on the campus of the University of Nevada in Beam Hall, where the college’s Lee Business School is located.
UNLV Police Chief Adam Garcia said that he first opened fire on the fourth floor of the building before he moved through several other floors.
An “active shooter” alert was sent to students, staff and faculty, while on- and off-duty police officers rushed to the location where they found Polito outside of Beam Hall armed with a handgun. A shootout unfolded and the 67-year-old was then shot dead by police.
A fourth person, who has been identified only as a 38-year-old male who was a visiting professor, is in hospital in a stable condition, police said.
The active shooter alert was lifted and an all-clear given around 40 minutes after the first reports of gunfire.
At a press conference shortly afterwards, sheriff McMahill said there was “no further threat” to the community.
Martha Mchardy8 December 2023 18:00
Watch: LeBron James reacts to UNLV shooting, calling inaction on gun control ‘ridiculous’
LeBron reacts to UNLV shooting, calling inaction on gun control ‘ridiculous’
Martha Mchardy8 December 2023 17:30
Latest pictures from UNLV after three people killed in shooting
Martha Mchardy8 December 2023 17:00
Who are the three people killed in the UNLV shooting?
Assistant professor of accounting Patricia Navarro-Velez, 39, is among those dead, as well as Dr Cha Jan Chang, 64.
Both died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Clark County coroner.
Ms Navarro-Velez joined UNLV five years ago after receiving her PhD in accounting from the University of Central Florida, and her MAcc from Bowling Green State University, as well as a BBA in accounting from the University of Puerto Rico, Ponce.
Meanwhile, Dr Chang was a longtime educator of management information systems, who had spent more than 20 years of his academic career teaching a generation of UNLV Lee Business School students, said college president Kevin Whitfield.
The third victim, who is also believed to be a faculty member, has not yet been identified by police.
A fourth person, who has been identified only as a 38-year-old male who was a visiting professor, was injured in the attack and is in hospital in a stable condition, police said.
It is not clear if there is a connection between the victims and the gunman or if they were specifically targeted in the mass shooting.
Martha Mchardy8 December 2023 16:30
UNLV students ‘no longer feel safe’ on campus after shooting
UNLV students have told of their horror after a gunman killed three people on campus and injured a fourth.
Police said the suspect, identified only as a 67-year-old college professor, shot at students in Beam Hall, where the college’s Lee Business School is located.
Journalism student Shainna Alipon told ABC7 she heard gunfire from inside the Student Union Building next door.
“We made our way down the stairs of the building just to escape and while we were walking down, we heard even more gunshots. I said ‘oh my gosh, I hope the shooter doesn’t come to the building where we’re at,’” she said.
“My editor-in-chief, he was kind of snapping me out of it, he was like, ‘hey can I borrow your phone? We have to take video of this; you know, we’re the press,’ and I was like, ‘oh shoot – you’re right.’ So I snapped out of it, started taking more videos, started talking to a little more people trying to see ‘hey is everyone on your end OK? What do you think is going on?’ It kind of solidified for the first time today – ‘oh I am a journalist; this is like my job,’” Ms Alipon added.
Meanwhile, Tinio, from Hercules, California told ABC he no longer fells safe on campus.
“I don’t feel safe anymore. Finals are next week and all of our finals are supposed to be in-person,” he said.
“It just makes me feel scared for the future because it’s getting closer and closer to me, closer and closer to my family, people who I love.”
Martha Mchardy8 December 2023 15:30
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.
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.
Martha Mchardy8 December 2023 15:00