One person died and 13 others were injured when a driver intentionally steered his car onto a pavement on the crowded Las Vegas Strip and then accelerated in a deadly scene resembling “humans being mowed down like a lawnmower”, police said today.
Many of those hurt suffered serious injuries after yesterday’s crash. A 27-year-old man faces charges of murder and attempted murder, Deputy Police Chief Greg McCurdy said.
“It appears he did this intentionally. The reason is questionable,” Mr McCurdy said.
The man, Stephen Michael Ressa of Rialto, California, had also been sought by his hometown police in a near-fatal assault on his mother, who owned the car Ressa was driving in Las Vegas.
The victims, including 11 tourists, were walking in front of the Bally’s and Paris hotel-casinos when the car struck them, then crashed into a wall and came to a stop in a landscaped area in front of Bally’s.
The injured were strewn along the pavement and were being treated in the street by emergency personnel as stunned tourists looked on. Traffic on the Las Vegas Strip was stopped for almost five hours.
Ressa was unhurt and was arrested at the scene by an off-duty officer, police said.
He was held today without bail at the county jail and is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.
During interviews with detectives, Ressa appeared lucid and correctly answered questions about his ability to determine right and wrong, Mr McCurdy said. But Ressa’s statements were “bizarre in nature”.
Results of alcohol and drug tests were pending.
The pedestrian who died was a 52-year-old man. Seven of the injured remained in hospitals today, five in a critical condition, spokeswomen said.
Rialto police Detective Sergeant Reinhard Burkholder said today that Ressa was wanted for questioning in the assault on his 54-year-old mother.
“He punched her numerous times in the face and choked her into unconsciousness and stood over her with a butcher knife,” Mr Burkholder said.
Ressa may have been under the influence of methamphetamine, he added. He was not being pursued by officers when he crashed in Las Vegas, police said.