An attacker with a large kitchen knife killed two people and wounded six others in stabbings along the Las Vegas Strip before he was arrested on Thursday, police said.
Three people were hospitalised in critical condition and another three were in stable condition, according to Las Vegas police, who said they began receiving 911 calls about the stabbings around 11.40am across the street from the Wynn casino and hotel.
The Clark County Coroner's office identified the victims who were killed as Brent Allan Hallett (47), and Maris Mareen Digiovanni (30) both Las Vegas residents, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The names of those wounded in the attack were not immediately released.
Police described the suspect as a man in his 30s and said they were working to confirm his identity. He is not a Las Vegas resident, according to Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief James LaRochelle.
“The initial stabbing was unprovoked and on the eastern sidewalk of Las Vegas Boulevard. The suspect then headed south and stabbed others,” LaRochelle said.
“The man fled and was followed by 911 callers before he was taken into custody,” authorities said. “Police recovered the large knife with a long blade believed to have been used,” LaRochelle said, calling the case a hard-to-comprehend murder investigation.
“There were no other suspects in the case and the Strip is secure,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. Police said it was too early in their investigation to speculate on a possible motive for the stabbings.
“Locals and tourists are the victims of this crime,” Lombardo said. Witnesses told Las Vegas TV stations that some of the victims appeared to be showgirls or street performers who take pictures with tourists on the Strip.
The suspect told a woman that he was a chef who wanted to take a picture with some of the showgirls with his knife, but he started stabbing people when the group declined the man's offer, the woman told KTNV.
Jason Adams told KLAS that he witnessed the attack on a showgirl. “This guy came, ran up, and started stabbing this lady in front of me and she ran around the escalators and she tried to get up under the bridge and her girlfriend was trying to help her,” Adams said, adding that the attack happened very quickly.
Pierre Fandrich, a tourist from Canada, told KTNV that he did not see the stabbing suspect as he was walking along the Strip. But he said he thought he heard three or four showgirls laughing, and it turned out to be screaming.
Fandrich said he saw a lot of blood as one woman ran across a bridge, one was on the ground, and another had a stab wound on her back as she tried to help the fallen woman.
Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak posted a message on social media saying,” Our hearts are with all those affected by this tragedy.”
“At the State level, we will continue to work with partners in law enforcement to make resources available on the ground and ensure the Las Vegas Strip remains a safe and welcoming place for all to visit,” Sisolak said.