On Wednesday, a quarter before noon, University of Nevada, Las Vegas students, faculty and staff connected to their campus notification system received a community-wide message they’d hope to never receive:
“University Police responding to a report of shots fired in BEH evacuate to a safe area. RUN-HIDE-FIGHT.”
A gunman opened fire on the fourth floor of Beam Hall, home to UNLV’s Lee Business School, killing three and leaving one injured, according to AP News. Among those killed were UNLV faculty or staff, ABC 11 reports, though their identities were still unknown at press time. Multiple students were also hospitalized after enduring panic attacks, The New York Times reports.
“It was terrifying. I can’t even begin to explain,” UNLV professor Kevaney Martin said, according to AP News. “I was trying to hold it together for my students, and trying not to cry, but the emotions are something I never want to experience again.”
The gunman made his way through the campus building before being met with law enforcement outside, where students had just previously gathered to eat and play games. The gunman died in a shootout. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Kevin McMahill credits law enforcement’s quick response time to saving the lives of “countless” students, AP News reports.
The all-clear was given 40 minutes after the authority first reported an active shooter. Campus housing was opened back up to residential students later that night. The campus will remain closed for the rest of this week.
Students fled on foot and hid in classrooms to escape the danger.
“They train you for something to happen in the classroom,” said one UNLV student, according to The Times. “This was hard because we were in the middle of this open campus. It was all on our own.”
The gunman has since been identified as Anthony Polito, 67. Polito was a tenured associate professor at East Carolina University before resigning in 2017. He’d worked 16 years at ECU. Previous to the shooting, Polito had sought employment at UNLV, though unsuccessfully, WRAL reports.
The college campus shooting draws similarities to two recent shootings directed toward faculty and staff.
Last year, an expelled University of Arizona student shot and killed a professor on campus after searching an academic hall for multiple faculty members whom he had also threatened previously. This August, a University of North Carolina graduate student fatally shot his faculty advisor and has since been charged with first-degree murder, WSPA reports.