LA official describes staying in Las Vegas at time of mass shooting

LA official describes staying in Las Vegas at time of mass shooting
Ronnie Jones (Source: Louisiana Gaming Control Board)
Ronnie Jones (Source: Louisiana Gaming Control Board)

A Louisiana official says he is all right after staying in a hotel less than a mile from the deadly mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip.

Authorities report that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire Sunday night on a crowd at a country music concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing more than 50 people and wounding more than 500.

"This is a tough town to be in right now," said Ronnie Jones, chairman-at-large of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

"It reminds me of how we all felt after 9/11. Las Vegas is just a town of great excitement and energy and it's been different the last two days, as it should be.

"It's shaken this community to its core."

Jones said he was in Las Vegas with other regulators for the 2017 Global Gaming Expo, an international gaming trade show and conference organized by the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions.

"I had just checked into the hotel and was unpacking and turned the TV on. And within two minutes, whatever it is I was watching, they had gone live to the Strip."

After watching the horrifying shootings unfold, Jones said he immediately began contacting others from Louisiana.

"There were some other people from Louisiana here, and I sent a text out to all of them telling them there was an active shooter, they needed to find a safe place," he recounted.

"Everybody had gone back to their hotel anyway, so none of the people from Louisiana affiliated with this trip was on the street when it happened, which is good."

The massacre in Las Vegas is the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

The American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions posted the following statement on the expo's website:

"The American Gaming Association and our Global Gaming Expo (G2E) partner, Reed Exhibitions, are closely monitoring the horrific events that took place in Las Vegas Sunday night.

Jones said he and regulators from other states already were conducting forums about security and licensing when this deadly shooting occurred.

He also mentioned the training that Louisiana State Police have conducted with some Shreveport-Bossier City casinos.

"We have a small group of us. They call it the Big 5. It's Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts," Jones explained.

"The last meeting we had, I brought up the issue of security and how the state police in Louisiana have been conducting active shooter drills at the properties throughout the state. And there was a lot of discussion about how to keep casinos and casino properties safe," he said.

"It was just ironic, I guess, that on the evening that we're all coming back in to meet again, we see that we can't always keep everybody safe all the time, unfortunately."

Other states have expressed interest in learning about the training Louisiana State Police provide, Jones said.

"I want to recognize state police and the work they've done. They do incredible work. In fact, a couple of the regulators yesterday want state police to come visit their state."

Based on the briefings in which he's participated, Jones said, there's no evidence to suggest that the shooting was related to the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.

"Having taught a class on terrorism at the graduate level at the University of Louisiana, one of the things that we talked about in there is that, in a terrorist event, if people are talking to each other, they leave a trail behind. It can be monitored," he said.

"But if you have a lone wolf, a person, one person who's determined to try and kill and hurt other people, if there's no pre-indicators, there's no way to stop them."

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