Rival motorcycle gangs armed with guns and knives clashed on a crowded Nevada casino floor yesterday, leaving three dead and at least 12 wounded as terrified gamblers ducked for cover.
The shooting, the worst ever inside a Nevada casino, occurred during a weekend gathering of motorcycle groups, including the Mongols and Hells Angels.
US police said the violence erupted when a Mongol member walked into a group of Hells Angels.
Sixty to 70 people, armed with guns and knives, were involved in the violence inside the entrance to Harrah’s casino in Laughlin, authorities said.
All three of the dead were bikers, police said. One person was arrested and police had recovered several guns.
About 200 people were being interviewed, said Lt Vince Cannito, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which patrols the Colorado River gambling resort 80 miles southeast of Las Vegas.
The shooting occurred during the 20th annual River Run, a motorcycle gathering which attracted up to 80,000 people into Laughlin. The resort town of about 8,000 residents has nine casinos and attracts about 5 million visitors a year.
Authorities locked down the city after the violence erupted shortly after 2am, temporarily closing bridges over the Colorado River. The routes were reopened later in the morning.
Aniko Kegyulics was sitting at a casino bar with her boyfriend when she heard yelling and gunfire.
‘‘There were so many gunshots everything turned grey. Everybody fell to the floor. It was crazy,’’ she said.
She passed a body covered with a bloody sheet when police allowed people inside to leave at about 8am, she said.
John Davidson, 39, ducked beneath a blackjack table.
‘‘There were shell casings landing right by us,’’ he said. ‘‘I had to pull the dealer down. She was screaming.’’
Authorities were also investigating the death of a biker whose body was found along Interstate 40, a main route between Laughlin and Southern California.
Preliminary reports indicate the man, from San Diego, had been shot while riding his bike and was a member of a motorcycle club, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s spokesman Chip Patterson said.
It was not immediately known if the death was related to the casino shooting.