LAS VEGAS -- Three homicides on the Las Vegas Strip in less than two weeks have some questioning safety.
The most recent death was the result of a fight between two tourists at O'Shea's Casino. Police say just after midnight, Benjamin Hawkins got into a fight with John Massie while in the O'Shea's restroom. Both were in town visiting from Florida and Utah.
According to the police report, Massie made a racial comment to Hawkins. The fight continued outside of the restroom, which is where Hawkins allegedly hit Massie in the face. Massie died a short time later at a nearby hospital. Hawkins faces one count of murder. The other two homicides happened on the south end of the Strip.
The recent homicides have some questioning the safety on Las Vegas Boulevard. Metro admits the recent murders are out of the ordinary, but say while it's a concern, they're doing a number of things to make sure our city's most important corridor is protected the hustle and bustle of the Strip means big money at time when we need it most. But at the same time, the big crowds create big challenges for police.
"It's about close proximity. It's about alcohol. When you get that many people in a small square footage, there is bound to be some confrontation," said Capt. Todd Fasulo, Metro.
The recent homicides along the Strip have highlighted the problem. But Capt. Fasulo says police use a number of tactics including bringing in extra officers, having a homeland saturation team and most recently adding a mobile command center to the Strip.
"It gives us some better eyes up and down the street in order for us to eliminate some crime or get in front of it before it does occurs," said Fasulo.
But tourists we talked to say it's less about the crowds and more about the type of crowds they're seeing. Isaac and Dahlia Mata say things have changed since they visited five years ago. "I'm not going to say low life but I'm seeing a lot of that kind of crowd that is just hanging out there and getting drunk."
"It was horrible," said Dahlia Mata. "People were arguing, there was fights, there was pushing. I could tell you it was horrible.
"Room rates are a little bit lower, everybody is vying for that customer base. We advertise come here and have fun and play and drink and all of things that we have in Las Vegas that does affect the clientele we can get in the city," said Fasulo.
But some tourists say they'll think twice about coming back to Las Vegas if crime goes up. Capt. Fasulo says they're working hard to make sure that doesn't happen. In addition to bringing in extra officers, Metro has a close relationship with security chiefs for the hotels. They also work closely with valet employees and bellmen for intelligence.