Police Believe Altercation Sparked Car-to-Car Shooting, Crash that Killed 3 in Vegas

APVegas
<p>Metro Police investigate a shooting and multi-car accident on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas early Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2013. Gunshots fired from a black Range Rover on the Las Vegas Strip that caused a Maserati to crash into a taxi, creating a fireball and killing three people as the SUV sped away. Initial reports had it as a gunfight between the luxury SUV and the high-end sports car. But investigators don&#39;t think anyone in the Maserati was shooting, said Sgt. John Sheahan. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus)</p>

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The Las Vegas Strip became a scene of deadly violence early Thursday when someone in a black Range Rover opened fire on a Maserati at a stoplight, sending it crashing into a taxi that burst into flames, leaving three people dead and at least six injured.

Police believe an altercation earlier at a hotel prompted the car-to-car attack in the heart of the Strip at Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road, the site of several major hotel-casinos, including Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally's.

"This doesn't happen where we come from, not on this scale," said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. "We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like 'Die Hard' or something."

Police said they were contacting authorities in three neighbouring states about the Range Rover Sport with tinted windows and paper dealer ads in place of license plates that fled the scene about 4:30 a.m.

In Southern California, the California Highway Patrol alerted officers in at least three counties to be on the lookout for the Range Rover with custom wheels, authorities said.

Police said the Maserati hit the taxi cab, which went up in flames, and the driver and passenger were killed. The male driver of the Maserati also died, and his passenger was shot.

Tourists staying in high-rise hotels around the scene found police tape blocking access to the area around the intersection. Closures were expected to last most of the day, snarling traffic in the tourist corridor.

Jeff Martin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, said he was unable to cross the Strip several hours after the incident.

"When you're out at 4 a.m. nothing good's going to happen," he said.

Las Vegas Police Sgt. John Sheahan said the attack was not a rolling gun battle as previously described. The cars were stopped at a light when at least one person in the Range Rover opened fire. Several people were inside the vehicle.

Six other vehicles were involved in the crash that followed, including the taxi and Maserati. The taxi was affiliated with Desert Cab company, according to general manager Sandy Shaver. He declined to comment further.

The taxi might have been propane-powered.

The incident marked the latest violence on the Strip since the beginning of the year. Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

A spokesman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Jeremy Handel, issued a statement reassuring people that much is being done to keep them safe.

"Recent incidents, while unfortunate, were isolated events," he said. "Las Vegas is among the safest travel destinations in the world and utilizes the most advanced technology and training to maintain a secure environment."

Las Vegas Police Officer Jose Hernandez acknowledged that the Strip has seen several violent incidents in recent weeks but said police have made arrests or identified suspects in each case.

"People don't have to worry," he said. "This is an unusual occurrence, as tragic as it may be."

Sheahan said police have video from traffic cameras at the intersection where the shooting occurred on Thursday.

"We have a lot of pieces to put together to establish a timeline as to why this confrontation occurred," Sheahan said.

___

Associated Press writers Michelle Rindels and Hannah Dreier contributed to this report.



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