Cops: Woman Intentionally Drove Into Las Vegas Crowd, Killing 1, After Falling Out With Child's Father
An Oregon woman intentionally drove her car into a crowd on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night, killing one person and injuring dozens more, according to authorities.
Lakeisha N. Holloway, 24, had her three-year-old daughter with her in the car when police say she intentionally drove her car onto the sidewalk two or three times outside the Paris and Planet Hollywood hotels around 6:40 p.m. on Sunday.
Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, died in the crash that also injured 35 people, with three suffering from critical head injuries, officials said Monday.
Valenzuela was visiting Las Vegas with her husband at the time, police said.
After fleeing the scene, police say Holloway drove her car, a 1996 Oldsmobile, to a nearby parking lot. She left her daughter in the vehicle, approached a valet and told him to call 911 because she had just hit a group of people with her vehicle, authorities said at a press conference on Monday.
Her daughter did not suffer any injuries and is now in protective custody.
Four college students from Pacific University in Oregon were also among those hurt. Members of the school's wrestling team and coaches were walking together when the driver swerved onto the sidewalk, the AP wrote.
People jumped onto the vehicle and banged on its windows in an effort to stop Holloway, officials said Monday.
More than 70 emergency responders rushed to the scene. The injured were taken to four area hospitals.
Holloway will likely be charged with multiple accounts of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, child abuse or neglect, and leaving the scene of an accident, which is a felony, authorities said.
The young mother arrived in Las Vegas about a week ago, officials said she told police.
Police believe she had a falling out with the father of her child before the crash and may have been on her way to see him in Texas, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at a press conference Monday.
"She did not demonstrate signs of being under the influence of alcohol," Lombardo said, saying Holloway appeared "stoic" at the time of her arrest.
However, a drug recognition expert believed Holloway was under the influence of some sort of stimulant.
"She went off the street and off the sidewalk at least two times," Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Captain Dan McGrath said. "We are treating this as an intentional act."
Authorities are still trying to determine an exact cause.
Terrorism is not suspected, but officials “are not 100 percent ruling out terrorism,” Lombardo said.
Police Lt. Peter Boffelli told reporters at the scene: "This is a huge tragedy that has happened on our Strip."
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the woman repeatedly hit pedestrians outside a casino.
"The car was like a bowling ball and the human bodies were like pins," Rabia Quershi told KSNV-TV. "Literally they were flying through the air."
She said her husband, who is a surgeon, rushed to help the victims.
Justin Cochrane, a property manager from Santa Barbara, California who was having dinner across the street from the crash, said the car appeared to be going around 30 or 40 mph.
"It was just massacring people," he told The Associated Press.
He said that the car continued down the road before backing into another crowd. Children and adults were both left injured on the ground before the car drove off, he said.
"Why would it slow to go around and then accelerate again?" he said. "I thought it's a crazy person."
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement Sunday: "Kathleen and I extend our deepest sympathies to all who are affected by this shocking and tragic event. Additionally, I would like to thank the first responders and the medical professionals who are caring for the victims this evening."