Thousands to ring in 2018 in Las Vegas under tight security after October mass shooting
LAS VEGAS — Tens of thousands of revelers will ring in the new year in Las Vegas under the close eye of throngs of law enforcement officers and National Guard members assembled to keep them safe just three months after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Tourism officials expect about 330,000 people to come to the city for festivities that are anchored by a roughly eight-minute fireworks display at the top of seven casino-hotels. Inside, acts including Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Celine Dion and Foo Fighters will keep partyers entertained before and after midnight.
With the shadow of the Oct. 1 shooting still over Las Vegas, officials are trying to reassure locals and visitors they will be safe celebrating on the Las Vegas Strip and downtown on Fremont Street.
On Saturday, two security guards were fatally shot while investigating a disturbance at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, a hotel-casino just west of the Strip. The suspect was hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and is not expected to survive, police said. Authorities described it as an isolated incident and assured that it was not terrorism-related.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will have every officer working Sunday, while the Nevada National Guard is activating about 350 soldiers and airmen. The federal government also is sending dozens of personnel to assist with intelligence and other efforts.
Still, authorities are asking revelers to watch their surroundings and report anything unusual.
“Nothing is too small to say something,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said during a news conference last week. “We’ll have plenty of resources available to take phone calls no matter how mundane they are or insignificant you believe to be the information.”
The heightened security comes after a high-stakes gambler killed 58 and injured hundreds more after he shattered the windows of his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino on the Strip and unleashed gunfire on a country music festival below. He then killed himself.
Strollers, backpacks, large bags, coolers and glass bottles will be banned on the Strip on New Year’s Eve.
A light jacket may do it for some of those gathering on the car-free Strip or squeezed underneath the massive video canopy on Fremont Street. The National Weather Service in Las Vegas forecasts temperatures to be around 48 degrees at midnight.
The coordinated fireworks show is scheduled to start 10 seconds before midnight Sunday at the Stratosphere. Fireworks will then be launched from the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
New Year’s Eve is worth an estimated $254.3 million to Las Vegas, according to the city’s Convention and Visitors Authority. More than 97 percent of the destination’s nearly 149,000 hotel and motel rooms are expected to be booked.