It was a frightening scene Friday night at the Bellagio in Las Vegas as an armed robber got into a shootout with police officers, resulting in one officer and the suspect getting shot. The officer is fine and the suspect later died.
The incident occurred at about 9:45pm Friday night, as prime of a time at a Vegas Strip casino as you will ever have. The suspect, wielding a firearm, went up to the cage at the Bellagio’s famous poker room and demanded money. Staff are trained not to put up any resistance in order to avoid any violence, so the man absconded with cash and bolted out of the north exit.
The suspect apparently had no plan after that, though. No getaway car, no escape route, which is why things went bad in a hurry. He tried to carjack someone in the valet area, which apparently he didn’t accomplish because of the word “tried” in the reports. Fleeing on foot, he turned and shot at the four Las Vegas Metro police officers who were in pursuit. A round struck one of the officers in the chest and another officer, Joaquin Escobar, shot and downed the suspect.
One could imagine the panic that went through the gamblers and tourists at the Bellagio and the surrounding area during the chase and shootout. Friday night on the Strip is quite busy; I would take a beating at the blackjack table any time over hearing gunshots ring out nearby.
Both the officer and suspect were taken to University Medical Center. The suspect died of his wounds; his name has yet to be released.
Fortunately, the officer was treated and released early Saturday.
“The officer had his bulletproof vest on, which probably saved his life,” Metro Capt. Nichole Splinter told the press.
Officer Escobar, a member of the Convention Area Command’s Tourist Safety Division, was placed on administrative leave as part of a routine procedure while the incident is investigated.
This Has Happened Before
This is not the first time in recent memory that the poker cage at the Bellagio has been robbed. In November 2017, a man wearing what appeared to be a blonde wig, fake glasses, and either a partial bandage or mask on his face walked up to the cashier, displayed a small handgun, demanded money, and escaped with the cash in a plastic shopping bag. Like the robber from this past weekend, he got out through the north valet, but unlike the deceased suspect, the 2017 robber had a car waiting.
Police said that the man waiting in the getaway car appeared to be held against his will and was not an accomplice, but fortunately, he was able to get out of the vehicle before the suspect drove it away. The suspect has not been caught.
At the time, Doyle Brunson criticized the robber’s strategy via tweet, saying, “The guy that robbed the cashier cage at the Bellagio should have walked south 10 yards and took our money in Bobby’s Room. He got 35k and we had about 200k in cash waiting to put it on deposit. Waitress said she could have hit the guy as he slowly left.”