Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Walking Along the Vegas Strip

"Driver in Vegas crash was seeking estranged partner, police say; Homeless driver to face charges after deadly tear" by Sally Ho Associated Press  December 22, 2015

LAS VEGAS— A homeless woman who slammed a car carrying her 3-year-old daughter into a crowd of pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip was believed to be on a trip to find the girl’s estranged father, authorities said Monday.

Based on video, police believe Lakeisha N. Holloway, 24, intentionally mowed down people on a busy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, killing one and injuring dozens of others Sunday night.

She is on suicide watch at a jail, and questions have been raised about her mental state, a defense attorney said.

After the crash, she parked at a casino a few blocks off the Strip, told a parking attendant that she ran over people nearby and asked the valet to call 911, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. Her daughter, who was in the back seat, was not hurt.

The sheriff said Holloway was ‘‘very stoic’’ when police arrived, showed no resistance and spoke coherently about what happened. He declined to elaborate on what she said.

‘‘She didn’t appear to be distressed due to her actions. That’s the best way I can describe it,’’ Lombardo said.

Holloway, who was being held without bail, will be charged with murder with a deadly weapon, said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, who said he expects several additional charges.

‘‘When a person drives a 2,000-pound-plus motor vehicle intentionally onto a sidewalk, killing and injuring scores of people, that’s murder,’’ Wolfson said.

Authorities declined to comment on a potential motive and said they were struggling to piece together Holloway’s background. She changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton in October, according to Oregon court records.

She lived in Oregon and had been living in Las Vegas for about a week in her 1996 Oldsmobile sedan, which she parked at garages throughout the city, Lombardo said. Investigators said she ran out of money and they believe she was headed to Dallas to find her daughter’s father, with whom she had a falling out.

The crash occurred in front of the Paris and Planet Hollywood casino-hotels and across from dancing water fountains of the Bellagio hotel-casino, where visitors crowd sidewalks as they walk from one casino to another. The Miss Universe pageant was being held nearby at Planet Hollywood.

A crash and scene of mayhem in front of a Paris hotel, huh?

After her arrest, Holloway ‘‘described a stressful period today where she was trying to rest/sleep inside her vehicle with her daughter but kept getting run off by security of the properties she stopped at,’’ the police report states.

‘‘She ended up on the Strip, ‘a place she did not want to be,’ ’’ the report quoted her as saying. ‘‘She would not explain why she drove onto the sidewalk but remembered a body bouncing off her windshield, breaking it.’’

People jumped on the car and banged on its windows, but Holloway didn’t stop driving on the sidewalk, Lombardo said. The car was fully on the sidewalk twice, including once when it traveled for 200 feet, police said.

There was no evidence that Holloway had consumed alcohol, but a drug recognition expert at the scene determined that she was under the influence of ‘‘some sort of stimulant,’’ Lombardo said.

Holloway is under round-the-clock watch at a jail, Deputy Clark County Public Defender Scott Coffee said. He says he has not seen police reports yet, so it’s too early to say if he will pursue an insanity defense.

But the fact that Holloway is on suicide watch shows that jail officials also have concerns about her mental state, Coffee said. Officer Michael Rodriguez calls it ‘‘medically restricted housing.’’

Victims were from Oregon, Florida, Colorado, California, Washington, Mexico, and Quebec. Five were Canadian citizens, and four were Oregon college students in town to compete in a wrestling tournament.

Justin Cochrane of Santa Barbara, Calif. [and] who was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris hotel, said the car ‘‘was just massacring people.’’ Cochrane said he couldn’t understand why the driver went into the crowd a second time. ‘‘I thought, ‘It’s a crazy person,’ ’’ he said.

The woman’s 3-year-old daughter is safe and being cared for by child protective services. A Clark County spokesman, Erik Pappa, said Monday he could not provide details on the child’s circumstances, citing confidentiality policy....