UNLV shooting: Police say gunman was an unemployed professor who had a target list


LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 67-year-old college professor who had been denied jobs at various Nevada colleges and universities opened fire before entering a building on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus and killing three faculty members. Loaded handgun magazines were found in the waistband, police said. Said.

After police killed him in a shootout, Anthony Polito was found carrying nine magazines for a 9mm handgun he had purchased legally last year as well as a list of targets at the school — though those bullets were None of them were on that list, police said Thursday.

He was killed in a shootout with police about 10 minutes after the first report of gunfire at Beam Hall, a business school building.

Police still have no motive for Wednesday’s attack, which also left a 38-year-old visiting professor in a life-threatening condition at a hospital.

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The university was to remain closed on Friday, but was to reopen the following week for the finals.

Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill said Polito arrived at UNLV at 11:28 a.m., about 15 minutes before the shooting in a 2007 Lexus, which he parked south of the business school.

Polito got out of the car, placed the items in his waistband and then entered Beam Hall at 11:33 a.m. The first report of shots fired came at 11:45 a.m., McMahill said.

Terrified students and professors cowered in classrooms and offices as the gunman roamed the top three floors of UNLV’s five-story Lee Business School.

University and city police gathered inside and outside the building. UNLV Police Chief Adam Garcia said the university’s first officers arrived at the business school within 78 seconds of the shooting being reported.

Near the main entrance, UNLV officers saw Polito exit the building and he fired shots at them, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement Thursday night.

The officers returned fire, killing him at the scene.

The statement said officers searched Beam Hall and found two victims dead on the third floor and one victim on the fourth floor.

Investigators believe the injured survivor was shot on the fifth floor, but managed to reach the ground floor.

Student Jordan Ackerman, who was in a second-floor classroom at the business school when the vandalism began, said the timestamp of a short cellphone video he recorded showed it was 11:48 a.m., three minutes after the shooting began. The building’s alarm had gone off.

It is unclear how many shots Polito fired, but the sheriff said Polito brought more than 150 rounds of ammunition to the complex.

Given such a large number of rounds, McMahill said he believed Polito may have intended to open fire on the student union next to the business school, where students were hanging out, eating, and playing games. Were.

Polito also had what McMahill described as a “target list” of nominating faculty members at UNLV and East Carolina University in North Carolina, where Polito taught at the university’s business school from 2001 to 2017.

He resigned from East Carolina as a tenured associate professor, according to a Thursday statement from the university.

“Nobody on the target list was a victim,” McMahill said. He said police have contacted everyone on the suspect list, except one person who was on the flight.

Police said a dash camera in Polito’s car showed him stopping at a post office in Henderson, where he was living, before going to campus.

Police discovered he had sent 22 letters to university faculty members across the U.S.

Police said some contained an unknown white powder that was later found to be harmless.

Police did not immediately disclose the nature of the letters or other details.

The sheriff said at a press conference that investigators were still looking for a motive, but he said that Polito had applied for several jobs at various colleges and universities in Nevada and was denied the job each time. .

However, Roseman University of Health Sciences in Henderson said Polito had an adjunct faculty contract and taught two courses in the school’s Master of Business Administration program from October 2018 to June 2022. He left when the program closed, spokesman Jason Roth said. for the school.

Officials said Thursday that Polito is struggling financially. McMahill said when they arrived at her apartment Wednesday night to search the property, they found an eviction notice posted on her front door.

Inside, detectives found a chair with an arrow on it pointing to a document “similar to a last will and testament,” McMahill said, without elaborating.

Also on Thursday, UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield identified two of the slain victims as business school professors Patricia Navarro-Velez and Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang. Whitfield said the name of the third victim will be released after relatives are notified of the death.

This December 4, 2012 photo provided by UNLV shows Cha Jaan "jerry" Chang is an associate professor in the Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology in the School of Business.  Chang was one of three people killed in the shooting at the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus on Wednesday, December 6, 2023.  (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV via AP)

This Dec. 4, 2012, photo provided by UNLV shows Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang, an associate professor in the business school’s Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV via AP)

This Aug. 19, 2019 photo provided by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas shows Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, an accounting professor who was one of three victims shot Wednesday.  6, 2023 on campus.  (Jenny Mann/UNLV via AP)

This Aug. 19, 2019 photo provided by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas shows Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, an accounting professor who was one of three victims shot Wednesday. 6, 2023 on campus. (Jenny Mann/UNLV via AP)

In a letter to students and staff, Whitfield said the shooting was “the most difficult day in the history of our university.”

Navarro-Velez, 39, was an accounting professor who received a Ph.D. Had received the degree. And according to the school’s website, the current focus was on research in cybersecurity disclosure and data analysis.

Chang, 64, was an associate professor in the business school’s department of management, entrepreneurship and technology and had taught at UNLV since 2001. According to his online resume, he had degrees from Taiwan, Central Michigan University, and Texas A&M University. He has a Ph.D. Earned. in Management Information Systems from the University of Pittsburgh.

The attack on UNLV horrified the city, which experienced the deadliest shooting in modern US history in October 2017, when a gunman 60 people were killed and more than 400 were injured After a fire broke out through the window of a high-rise room at Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip, just a few miles from the UNLV campus.

It was not immediately clear how long Polito had lived in the Las Vegas area.

Paul Whittington, one of Polito’s former students at East Carolina, said that Polito often talked about his regular trips to Las Vegas. Whittington said he also seemed obsessed with anonymous student reviews at the end of each semester.

Polito told Whittington’s class that he remembered the faces of the students who gave him bad reviews and pointed to seats in the classroom, saying he was sure who they were and where they were sitting.

“He always talked about the negative feedback he got,” said Whittington, 33, who took Polito’s Introduction to Operations Management class in 2014. “He didn’t get a lot, but there was always one student every semester. , or at least one student in each class who will give a negative review. And he focused on them.


Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia. Associated Press journalists Michael Balsamo in Washington, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Terry Tang in Phoenix and Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


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