LAS VEGAS (AP) — An argument over a cover charge led to a nightclub shooting early Monday on the Las Vegas Strip that left one patron dead when he tried to subdue the gunman and two employees in critical condition, authorities said.
Police have identified the gunman as 41 year old Benjamin Frazier of Las Vegas. They say Frazier is being booked on charges of murder and attempted murder.
He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon at a strip club in Las Vegas in 1996. He was also arrested last year on a battery charge. Records show that Frazier received a 12-30 month suspended sentence in the previous club shooting, in which Frazier was accused of attempted murder.
KXNT spoke with attorney John Momot, Junior, who represented Frazier in the previous case. “I’m sorry to hear this incident occurred. T see where the facts develop and where the situation plays out I’m sure will be forthcoming in the next few weeks,” he said. Momot said he “is always disappointed when a former client gets re-arrested or is in trouble once again. Unfortunately there is a death involved. Its a tragedy.”
Gunfire began around 5:45am Monday. The victims include a guard at Drai’s After Hours, a club at Bally’s hotel-casino.
Sheahan said the nightclub was open at the time and the shooter was believed to have acted alone. He was hospitalized with unspecified injuries.
Sheahan said the male patron was fatally wounded trying to subdue the gunman as people ran from the club.
“The person is in custody. The weapon is in custody,” Sheahan said. “There are no outstanding suspects in this incident.”
KXNT’s Brian Shapiro visited the crime scene and reported that as late as mid-morning, bloody clothing and shell casings were still in evidence on the floor outside the club.
Three people were taken by ambulance to University Medical Center, where spokeswoman Danita Cohen said one died and two remained in critical condition.
Their names weren’t immediately made public.
Sheahan said the gunman is expected to face murder and multiple attempted murder charges.
Authorities said he paid an unspecified cover charge then demanded his money back before opening fire.
The club has a capacity of about 500 people, said Celina Haas, a spokeswoman for Bally’s hotel owner Caesars Entertainment Corp.
Sheahan said the gunman told employees the crowd Monday morning was so small that he wanted his money back. It wasn’t clear how much money was in dispute.
A manager was shot in the arm during the argument and a security officer who wrestled with the gunman was also shot before the patron joined the melee, Sheahan said.
Gambling continued in most of the casino after the shooting. Yellow crime scene tape stretched around several banks of slot machines just outside the club. Debris littered the carpeted floor.
The entrance is located on the casino level of Bally’s near a drive-up entrance off Flamingo Road near Las Vegas Boulevard.
The club, open Thursdays through Mondays from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., has been an after-hours attraction at the heart of the Strip since the late 1990s. It moved earlier this year from the former Bill’s Gamblin Hall, which is undergoing renovations, to Bally’s across the street. Drai’s is expected to move back to the renamed site next year.
Both properties are owned by Caesars Entertainment. The company issued a statement offering sympathies to victims and deferred questions to police.
The intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard was the scene of a shooting and fiery crash last February involving a self-described pimp. Authorities say he exchanged words with a man outside another Strip casino then fired shots from his Range Rover into a moving Maserati, mortally wounding the driver and triggering a crash with a taxi that left two other people dead.
A death penalty trial in that case is scheduled to begin Dec. 2, but could be delayed by a change of defense attorneys.
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