Over at ammoland.com, Dean Weingarten pieced together the timeline of the Mandalay Bay massacre. Here’s Dean’s account of the killer’s final moments . . .

An officer on the ground reported gunfire as late as 10:21.  Those last shots could have been the shooting of the hotel security man outside of the mass killer’s door.  From newsweek.com:

10:19 p.m.: A team of four officers makes their way into the hotel up to the 32nd floor. It’s unclear if the shooting is still going on.

10:21 p.m.: An out-of-breath officer yells over the radio: “Gunshot wounds to the chest and head. We need immediate medical!”

At 10:26, a different officer reports they found a wounded security guard. This is likely reporting the same gunshot wounds listed above at 10:21.

The police and hotel security responded to the shooter at his room before or at 10:21.  At 10:24,  an officer outside of the room gives the room number and the floor number.  He says:

“It’s room 135 on the 32nd floor. I need the SWAT.”

The gunshots heard by Chris Bethel after the explosion are almost certainly the SWAT Team firing into the room as they enter. Sheriff Lombardo reports, as noted  on CNN:

High up on the hotel’s residential floors, a first responder radioed in: “I’m inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor, I can hear automatic fire coming from one floor ahead… one floor above us.”
“Subsequently they approached the room, received gunfire, they backed off and SWAT responded,” Lombardo said.

Lombardo confirmed the first responders received gunfire, then backed off.

Clark County Sherriff Joe Lombardo confirms that the mass killer was already dead when SWAT entered the room.  From the voanews.com:

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo says “We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry [into his hotel room].”

We do not know if the Mandalay Bay Hotel security man was with the police when they first approached the room, or not. Was the gunfire referred to by Sheriff Lombardo the shots when the security man was wounded? The security man might have been shot separately.

We do not know, but the events had to be close together or part of a continuous event. It would have made sense for a hotel security man to accompany the police during the first confrontation. He would know the layout.

The mass killer was no longer shooting after 10:21. This explains why the SWAT team did not blast down the door until 11:21. The extreme urgency had ended.

I respectfully disagree. The man in the hotel room had shot hundreds of innocent victims. Even though he’d stopped firing, he had the potential to continue, with dozens of human targets still within reach.

Not to mention the fact that Stephen Paddock could have had his entire room wired with explosives. In fact, telegraph.co.uk reports that police found “several pounds of the powder explosive tannerite” in the murderer’s house and “a quantity of ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser that can be used to create a powerful explosive” in his car.

That’s what stopped the SWAT team at the Pulse nightclub from entering sooner: the fear of an IED. Yes but…

As TTAG’s Jon Wayne Taylor wrote after the Florida massacre, “To have a threat identified, and in this case to be in direct visual observation and actively firing at the threat, and then to back off that threat is a tactical error. A big one. I don’t know how to get past that.”

We don’t know if the Las Vegas SWAT team had direct visual contact with Stephen Paddock. But a hotel security guard had engaged the killer (and paid the price).

The LVPD SWAT team’s decision to wait 60 minutes before breaching his hotel room strikes me as an enormous tactical error. While no one apparently lost their life because of the delay, it’s worrying that this is becoming the pattern during mass attacks.

79 Responses to Las Vegas SWAT Team Waited One Hour Before Entering Killer’s Hotel Room

  1. Don’t EMS crews normally stay out of the crime scene until after the shooter has been stopped? If that’s true and happened here, couldn’t some of the injured have succumbed to their wounds during that period after the shooting stopped but befire the shooter’s death was confirned?

    • That’s the protocol in my state. Alabama EMS protocol, section 2.02 covers responding to an active crime scene. Basically, we don’t enter the scene till local PD says is clear. We also don’t handle any objects on the scene, unless we are clearing a path to our patient (so as to avoid contaminating possible evidence).

    • According to the Sheriff, Las Vegas EMS and fire department trains to act together with the police department in an event like this. I don’t know for sure what the situation was in this case, but in the press conference it sounded like first responders were performing triage on site before the shooter was stopped.

    • Our local fire/EMS have been training with the various police departments and have a rapid response team. They will respond in with a second wave of officers and start treating wounded while the first wave of officers are still working on engaging the threat.

      It was very interesting getting to participate in one of their drills to see all the coordination that has to take place.

  2. As I understand it, SWAT protocol if the shooting has stopped is to attempt to negotiate a surrender. I believe that if this is the case then THAT is a serious tactical error that should be used only in hostage situations. In active shooter or mass shooter scenarios they should go in hot and fast, even if the shooting seems to have stopped.

    • Cliff H,

      Spending an hour trying to negotiate with an attacker after they have stopped attacking is absolutely fine IF THERE ARE NO WOUNDED PEOPLE IN THE IMMEDIATE AREA IN DESPERATE NEED OF MEDICAL CARE. If there are mortally wounded people who will die without prompt medical attention, then you should go in hot and fast whether or not the attacker has stopped attacking.

  3. All that equipment and training and they don’t use it. A beat cop could have stood around in the hallway for an hour.

    • Yeah. Mass shooter in a hotel room shooting civilians? “Hold up, we gotta evaluate this situation.”

      Black guy pulled over pulling out his CCW permit? “SHOOT HIM DEAD! NO TIME TO EVALUTE!”

  4. Once again the boys in blue covered their asses rather than run towards the sound of the guns. While I generally don’t mind cops, this is rancid cowardice. If there is a mass shooter and you know where he is, you don’t stop until he’s dead or you are. That’s why cops get paid absurd amounts of money and what they signed up for.

    • Cops maybe not so much, but SWAT is supposed to be tactical and hard-core. They like to dress up like soldiers, they should do the job.

    • With all the training and science applied to todays policing, the cops could learn something from years ago. Only need to look up legendary New York cop Johnny Broderick.

    • If SWAT sat outside the door and there were no rounds being fired while they did their safety briefing and passed around some donuts, then Im ok with that. But if that madman was STILL raining lead on those innocents while they did their safety briefing, then something is wrong. To never have practiced entry into a high rise room seems out of place in Las Vegas with all of those high rises.

  5. Let’s be honest here. Police and S.W.A.T. did not charge into the attacker’s room because they were deeply (and rightfully) concerned that the attacker would waste them either with gunfire or explosives. So they waited an hour before going in. And during that time, they probably tried to insert a camera and/or microphone into the room to determine whether the attacker was still functioning. Hopefully, they also tried to evacuate anyone from adjacent rooms in case the attacker detonated a serious amount of explosives or in case stray bullets zipping through walls would not be a danger.

    I am NOT disparaging police for waiting so long to go in: that could easily be a suicide mission which would NOT incapacitate the attacker.

    Situations like this call for simple explosives. Send a robot up to the door which makes a hole and lobs a “civilian friendly” grenade into the room. End of event. If there are hostages/friendlies in the room, too bad.

    Note: the “civilian friendly” grenade that I am envisioning might have no shrapnel at all and rely on simple concussion to incapacitate the attacker. And when I say concussion, I mean serious concussion much more powerful than flash-bangs.

    • There actually is a type of explosive just for that. Can’t remember the specific name but it uses powdered tungsten around the explosive charge to greatly increase the lethality in a very small radius. Since the tungsten is powdered it loses velocity very quickly and is “safe” in close quarters. If I remember correctly the lethal radius is only like 5-10 meters.

    • “Send a robot up to the door which makes a hole and lobs a “civilian friendly” grenade into the room.”

      I kinda like that idea. A robot with a super heavy-duty ‘captive bolt’ (think ‘No Country For Old Men’) to punch a hole in the door and stuff a stun grenade or something similar.

      When the grenade goes ‘Boom’, the robot sticks a combo IR – visible light camera in there…

  6. Does anyone realize how long it takes to put all that gear on and get an APC’s Diesel engine warmed up…

    Do y’all even operate?

  7. Pou pointed out the very real likelihood of explosives. It would also be a big tactical error if they had breached the door as you suggest, and triggered an explosive charge that blew a sizable chunk of the hotel into the crowd below.

    While it doesn’t get much more High-Risk than this, the process is pretty straight forward. If suspect(s) are still firing you breach and engage in an active killer response scenario. If suspect(s) are not still firing, you establish a perimeter and treat the incident as a barricaded suspect scenario. If they start firing again, you breach and engage. There are more potential variables than most people can imagine. That is why we have to let the experts who are on the scene and actually have to go through that door decide the best course of action.

    In my opinion, and based on the information provided in his comments, John Taylor was correct regarding his assessment of the Pulse incident. It doesn’t make much sense to back off once you have already engaged a suspect, but I wasn’t there.

    However, as you pointed out, this incident is different and your opinion is neither correct or incorrect, it is simply another opinion. The course chosen by Vegas P.D. apparently did not result in anyone else being shot. That’s a limited WIN in a crappy game. They will dissect their decisions at length, prepare an AAR, and probably share it with other special response teams so that all may learn from this incident. Monday morning quarterbacking with limited information doesn’t seem very productive.

    • Yep. That’s pretty much nationwide, standardized active shooter response protocol. Unfortunately your rational response will get lost in a sea of cop bashing. Hence why I sometimes part ways with TTAG on tactics.

      The slow 9-11 minute response time? That’s definitely a legitimate critique. Mandalay Bay’s private security looks to also have some huge holes. When the shooting was occurring, Mandalay Bay has millions in assets and should have been able to breech their own door and bring a shielded, armed response in minutes. That would have saved a bunch of lives.

      But, by golly, we gotta bash government. We don’t bash private security around these parts.

      Watch casinos buy and train with ballistic shields after this – although it’s too little, too late.

  8. I dentify the threat, evacuate the floor and go in guns blazing. Shoot first ask questions later. Worried about a boobie trap, don’t use the front door. In Afganistan they never use the front door. Blow a hole from the adjacent room and funnel in. C’mon guys this is operating 101.

  9. So if they didn’t attempt entry for an hour because the shooting had already stopped… Why did Paddock stop shooting? Did all of his guns jam or malfunction? Did he run out of ammo? And at what point did he shoot himself?

    • Shot the security guard who initially knocked, realized the jig was up and put a round in his head.

      He was already approaching room temperature when SWAT went in an hour later.

      ^ Total conjecture on my part, based on limited available details.

      • That’s my guess too. Sounds like the guard’s sacrifice saved dozens.

        As for waiting, the SWAT team isn’t a hit squad. Their job is to arrest. If the killer wasn’t shooting, he isn’t an immediate threat – like a guy with a gun in a standoff. There’s the possibility to get him to surrender. They should be prepped to go in as soon as he starts shooting again, but until he does, they have the time to be cautious, clear innocents from the area, etc.

        • I disagree with the suggestion that he wan’t an immediate threat. Somebody in a hotel tower overlooking a city armed with modern day firearms,which he has used to kill over fifty people and wound or maim hundreds more is the very definition of an immediate threat. Whether he takes a break to reload, get a drink, go to the bathroom or get a little shut eye doesn’t change that.

    • It’s a good thing that second guessing the gun laws for the same situation is totally kosher and a sport unto itself though. Otherwise the media and politicians wouldn’t have anything to do.

    • They damn sure love to second guess citizens. Since they work for us we have every right to second guess them.

    • Not necessarily, such leaders are supposed to be adaptable problem solvers. If it is not a job requirement for the guy making the decisions it should be.

  10. WOW….so many Expert SWAT Operator Monday morning quarterbacks, Ya’ll must be Tier 00 Super Secret Squirrel Operators!!

    • Some of the commenters are people have been to war and breached the quarters of very dangerous people for a living.

      • Sir, I myself have been to War and served as a SWAT member/Asst. Team Leader/Sniper/Trainer for 25 years (I still train SWAT Teams)! A lot of the commenters are just plain LEO Haters like their mentor RF. Some just love to tell how they would do it and how everything the LEO’s do is wrong.

        • In your opinion, do LEOs do anything wrong?

          Because your comment is designed to whitewash any LEO wrong-doing or plain incompetence. Just like you were trained to do.

        • I have never said LEO’s don’t do anything wrong. I have had to fire officers for wrong doing. I have pulled officers off of handcuffed suspects. I have also had to make death notifications to my dead officers family. There is good and bad in all professions. I just get tired of all the Farago Fan Boys on this sight that are such LEO HATERS and think they know something about what it takes to do our job. I was never trained to whitewash wrong doing in my profession and never have, as opposed to you….you are a well trained Minion!

        • Oh please. Pulling out the dead-cops-family sympathy card. Give your talking points a rest. The facts are an unarmed Mandalay security guard wasn’t too chickenshit to approach Room 32-135. Why wouldn’t the “trained professionals” do the same? Because they are risk averse. That’s why. If you are going to join law enforcement and a SWAT, you need to be prepared to breach a freaking door in less than an hour. There’s danger involved. Same dam thing happened at a Sandy Hook and Orlando.

        • Quite frankly you had just better get used to people hating you, suck it up and stop crying about it.

          And you say that you have “pulled officers off of handcuffed suspects” did you also file assault charges on that cop and testify at his trial as such? No? I didn’t fucking think so. You’re part of the problem buddy.

    • Being a tax paying citizen gives me every right to MMQB any and all actions taken by government employees. If they do not like that, then they are more than welcome to find honest work.

  11. Doesn’t it seem that often a murderer turns a gun on himself at first contact with LE? Don’t think the SWAT guys might have considered that? After shooting the security guard, and knowing his room was identified, he might have decided to “quit,” and THAT would certainly explain the lack of further gunfire.

    Meanwhile the SWAT guys know what’s going to be behind their target. In this case that would naturally a whole bunch of windows. How could a bunch of guys entering guns a-blazing NOT have resulted in MORE bullets out the window?

    News said the BG suicided when the SWAT team entered, but they were just filling air after the fact. Since I’m sure there were no “embedded” reporters on the 32nd floor, I’m thinking it was much sooner.

    I’d bet that at the sound of one more shot, maybe even only one more breath, they’d have been inside the room PDQ, and with violence.

    So they waited until their “suspect” cooled down a little first, literally; and I don’t see that as such a bad plan.

    • zaphod,

      “Doesn’t it seem that often a murderer turns a gun on himself at first contact with LE?”

      About 75% of spree killers immediately surrender or kill themselves as soon as an armed person rushes them. Unfortunately, I cannot find the source for that number.

      That is why police agencies all across the United States are supposed to immediately rush a spree killer, regardless of what equipment or backup they have, even if they are all by themselves. What I don’t understand: it seemed like police did that for about 12 years after Columbine and then reverted to holding a safe position and waiting forever for S.W.A.T. to breach the attacker.

      • “Unfortunately, I cannot find the source for that number.” I don’t know the specific number, but it is the vast majority. I got the number from “The War on Guns” by John Lott.

  12. “Don’t go in there, you might get killed.”

    Said no one at Fallūjah.

    If there’s anyone who doesn’t think that cops are civilians this should be a wake up call.

    • Yep, they want to dress up like tier 1 operators and demand the same equipment, they better damn well act like it. That being said the use of SWAT must be severely curtailed overall. This example is why they exist, not to kick down doors on no-knock warrants for selling some weed.

  13. Been saying it for years & this is just another example that proves it… Can’t count on cops for anything, especially not protecting anyone. They’re nothing more than overpaid revenue collectors.

  14. how many of you would say, at 400 yards I have confidence in putting a shot from anything .223 on up in a vital area of a man sized target? a single shot could have ended the whole thing swiftly, but we are infringed so much, that even if it would have saved many lives, we would be investigated for the shot. why don’t we get rid of fun free zones, and “win the west” again by making an example to anyone thinking they might want to go on a rampage? make it law that we protect our fellow man by any means necessary and show that civilians will not stand for ANY terrorist action.

    do you really think he would continue hanging out of Windows if a few people were shooting back?

  15. Just thinking out loud – where was the police SWAT sniper stationed in a helicopter, with a vantage point on the blown open window?

    • I was thinking the same thing. If they had eyes/scope/rifle covering the open windows and surrounding area, any waiting doesn’t seem like much of a risk.

  16. /slightly off topic – my bet is that it will soon be quietly revealed that Paddock was on legally-prescribed SSRI anti-depressant drugs.

    Every mass shooting that hasn’t been done by a Moslem or a leftist Democrat assassin (Scalise’s shooter, Hodgkinson) was by someone who was on SSRI’s.
    -Aurora Colorado movie theatre….SSRI’s
    -VA Tech Korean dude….SSRI’s
    -Gabby Gifford’s shooter in Arizona….SSRI’s
    -Adam Lanza, the POS in CT school shooting….SSRI’s
    -Columbine School Kids….SSRI’s

  17. But but but they wanted to all get home safe…unfreakin’ believable they waited an hour. Or pathetic-take your pick. Better get that bumpfire gimmick while you can. And all the Ar”s you can manage…😡

  18. Quickest, fastest option would be a police sniper operating from wherever.
    If they just put some rounds on him they might have taken him out or even hastened the suicide.

  19. Nothing but a jerk off would second guess the officers on the scene. He had stopped shooting and didn’t shoot again. Go ahead and what-if it till the cows come home, your chickenshit ass wasn’t there.

    • What if your kid/wife/parent bled to death while they waited, because the EMT’s aren’t getting anywhere near the area until police clear the room.

  20. Here’s the biggest tactical error I see: Mandalay Bay security. Why wouldn’t they have ballistic shields? I can forgive schools to some degree for having lousy security – they are typically strapped financially. A casino raking in millions of dollars should have better security. This guy posted up his own security cameras and loaded up a dozen guns with tons of ammo and wasn’t noticed. Nobody had a ballistic shield or two available. Also, why the hell wouldn’t Mandalay Bay security have ARs at the ready? Maybe they did, but it sure looks like they didn’t get deployed. Get that gear into action ASAP when lives are being lost. Once the shooting stops, time is less vital.

    A lot of TTAG wants to go on another cop-bashing spree, but it looks like *private security* really screwed the pooch. I worked Dunbar Armored, and we had lots of bullet resistant plexi-glass as well as armored vehicles and protected safes. Ballistic shields aren’t terribly expensive, either.

    On to the next issue. If this shooter had rigged a fertilizer bomb, he could have blown up half the casino as well as the SWAT team and anyone else within the kill zone of the blast radius. If I have any strong suspicion of a bomb threat, I block off the area and call in the bomb robots and trained EOD personnel. There’s nothing I can do to defend against a bomb with any of my firearms. How much would you bet TTAG would be bashing SWAT if they set off a massive explosion?

  21. If I’m interpreting this correctly, the security guard engaged, and got shot then all the other shooting ended?

    Did the guard die?

    It sounds like he stopped the shooter, even if he didn’t shoot him himself. We’ve seen before the shooter stops as soon as they are confronted and offs themself.

  22. we really dodged a bullet when hillary lost

    all you never trumper 2nd amendment supporters should realize this now

    i cant remember the last time a mass shooting made this little sense after 3 days

    something isnt right

    something smells funny

    even my wife who is pretty anti conspiracy theorist thinks theres something way bigger going on that were not being told

    nows not the time to go weak in the knees

    the left didnt go soft on the 14th amendment after kermit gosnell or the project veritas videos

    we shouldnt after this either

    if the 2nd amendment goes away so do the rest in very short order

    see: venezuela

    this is really for real

    right now

    its happening

    make no mistake

    our countrymen are accusing us nra and 2nd amendment supporters of being terrorists and accessories and complicit in what happened in las vegas

    this could be our last stand

    man up

    everybody

  23. I don’t know what anyone can complain about here.

    Breaching a room with a dead guy inside is harder than shooting a young kid playing with an airsoft gun on the street. Cops train for the former, but the latter is much more scary.

    Besides, all the SWAT boys went home safe that night, which is the only thing that matters.

  24. So there was no emergency after 10:21 PM? The subject was still in the room armed to the teeth and the police did not know if he was alive or dead. And they waited an hour to breach the door? The situation is active until you subdue the subject whether he is shooting or not. He was dead but the police did not know. Can somebody from the LVPD SWAT explain their protocol?

  25. Would using a drone be practical in such a situation? If an armed drone take out the shooter. If he stopped firing (as he did ) the drone could enter through the window and provide a great view of what the room situation is. Just a thought. …..

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  27. The on going police dog and pony shows puffing up their chests and bragging what a great job they did sickens me. The only real hero was the minimum wage security cop that took on the gunman by himself and after being shot twice still stayed to show the moron cops where the hell the shooter was while of course the cops cowered down in the hall way and called for more backup and sat on their dead asses until more cops came and finally 75 minutes later when all the time no more shooting ever took place finally got the courage to break down the door. What a joke. Why would a city that big take so long to get a swat team up their and after they did sit around for so long. Did they need a couple of coffee breaks before going to work for the night.

    Lets face facts if the gunman had wanted to he could have kept on firing and killed more and more people while the cops cowering down in the hallway did nothing for 75 minutes. These guys were a joke and listening to these cop dog and pony shows is so sickening it makes you want to put your foot through your computer screen.

    Lets face it cops have tear gas bombs, and with all the military hardware they like to prance around in looking tough they probably have frag grenades as well. One tear gas grenade or one real grenade would have took out the gunman rather quickly. Perhaps the flat foots needed an instruction book to tell them how to pull the pin and throw it in through the shot out door that had such large gaps in it from the 200 rounds the nut case shot through it that you could have thrown a basket ball through the shattered door. These clowns were an utter joke. I hope I never need them in my neighborhood I would rather call a viscous girl scout troop to help me.

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