Officer hesitation during Vegas shooting prompts review

LAS VEGAS – A veteran police officer, self-described freeze in a Las Vegas hotel hallway while a gunman fired at an outdoor concert crowd is any question of an assessment of the question of whether lives could be saved if officers had acted faster to stop the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s modern history.

Three police tactics experts said that they understood the Officer Cordell Hendrex hesitantly he led an intern and three Mandalay Bay hotel guards in the direction of the sound of rapid gunfire Oct. 1.

“We teach officers to respond directly to the actively killing. Every second that it continues, more lives are in danger,” said J. Pete Blair, a criminal justice professor and director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training center at Texas State University. “But we don’t expect them to take unnecessary risks.”

Carla Alston, a spokeswoman for Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, in a statement last week saying that every officer’s actions during the massacre is evaluated by the department.

Hendrex recognized is “terrified with fear” in a written declaration filed Oct. 7 and made public on 23 May by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, under the command of the judge.

“I froze there in the middle of the room, for how long I cannot say,” he wrote.

The video and the report represent separate parts of a huge puzzle are joined together by authorities who say they have found no motive for the shooter’s rampage.

The footage is part of the eighth release by the police of heartbreaking graphic sights and sounds of the massacre and the aftermath. A ninth release is due Tuesday.

Hendrex, a nearly 10-year department veteran and field training officer, for the first time to see education rookie Officer Elif Varsin to write trespassing tickets for two women in a Mandalay Bay hotel security office.

Amid radio reports of the ongoing shooting, and “multiple victims,” Hendrex, Varsin and three Mandalay Bay security officers to perform a lift / elevator to talk about a shooter on the 32nd floor. They get off on the 31st floor. The reason is not explained.

In the images, Hendrex lead Varsin and the guards, each with drawn pistols, the elevator down, a 31st-floor corridor. They hear the first of at least five different salvos of rapid gunfire during a three-minute span.

“Holy s—. That is a rapid fire,” Hendrex said. The group stops.

“I’m at the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor, we hear above us,” Hendrex said over his police radio.

“Just be advised automatically fire, fully automatic fire from an elevated position,” a radio voice says. “Take cover.”

Varsin video shows the group in the 31st floor hallway for about five minutes before Hendrex leads them halfway climb a flight of stairs to the 32nd floor. They remain there for at least 15 minutes, when the video clip ends.

The authorities have said that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, fired barrages for about 10 minutes from the 32nd floor of windows in the open-air Route 91 Harvest Festival concert in Las Vegas Boulevard, before killing himself. More than 400 people were injured and hundreds of others were injured as they fled, the officials said. Fifty eight people were killed.

“I remember thinking that I had myself, my day 2 trainee and three security managers,” Hendrex wrote later. “Between the 5 of us only me and the Officer Varsin wore bullet-proof vests and we were all armed with a pistol each.”

“The shooting stopped and all I could think of was to stop the shooter or shooters of … escape,” he said.

It is not clear whether Hendrex reached the 32nd floor stairway door near the shooter in room, that was sealed shut. On the 32nd floor, a hotel security guard was wounded in the leg by gunshots fired through the door and into the hall, where he had discovered the obstruction.

Body-camera video, released May 2, shows teams of officers later move it carefully from different locations, checking the rooms on floors 29, 30 and 31 for blasting through the door and into the Paddock suite. That was about 80 minutes after the Paddock began to shoot, and more than an hour after the gunfire ended.

Inside, police found Paddock dead, windows broken, and 23 rifles strewn about. Fourteen of the guns were equipped with the “bump ” stock” devices to create a rapid-fire shooting similar to that of the automatic weapons.

Questions were asked in the middle of changing the timelines of Las Vegas police and the FBI in the days after the shooting about why the police are not to Paddock earlier.

Lombardo said at that time he was “absolutely offended” by suggestions that the police failed the reaction.

Lombardo, who has since been re-elected head of the police department, ordered officers and employees not to comment on what he calls an ongoing investigation. The FBI in Las Vegas, has repeatedly declined to comment.

The sheriff has said that he expects the final report to be issued by August.

Hendrex and Varsin not respond to e-mail messages from The Associated Press, and Steve Grams, head of the police union, declined to comment.

Eugene O’donnell, a former New York police officer who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, called for “an honest conversation about the need for the police to transform on a dime from a peacekeeping mission to the military commands.”

“We must be realistic,” O’donnell said. “Police officers are citizens with guns. The idea that they spring into action and take on a serial killer who’s body count is probably not something you can ask for.”

Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, considering the body camera video, at the request of AP.

He said that no amount of tactical training and the crisis of air conditioning, short of actual combat experience, can overcome a natural reaction to pause in the face of danger.

“This is not a training problem,” Eells said. “You can simulate an active shooter scenario, but it is not the same as real bullets fly.”

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