LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses security staff at a Las Vegas Strip casino of failing to protect a group of customers after a man threatened them with a gun. That man later shot a member of the group, leading to substantial injuries and multiple surgeries, documents said.
Attorneys for the shooting victim, Eric Aguilar, are suing the Venetian Resort Las Vegas and several security guards, following the incident on a casino floor in January 2021.
On Jan. 18, 2021, a gunman shot Aguilar outside of the casino following an incident inside the Palazzo casino, the lawsuit and court records said.
Aguilar was celebrating his 33rd birthday when another man threatened him with a gun, the lawsuit said. At least one Venetian employee is seen in surveillance video watching the threat unfold, the lawsuit said.
The encounter began when Aguilar’s group commented on a person in another group wearing a San Francisco 49ers Jersey, the lawsuit said.
“Without warning, the gunman began to verbally engage Mr. Aguilar’s group, stating that he would ‘[expletive] kill’ Mr. Aguilar and his friends,” the lawsuit said.
The man with the gun then left the area, the lawsuit said. Security guards then evicted Aguilar and his friends from the property, the lawsuit said.
“Upon hearing Mr. Aguilar report that the gunman had threatened him with a handgun on the gaming floor, one of the Venetian defendants’ three uniformed security guards said that they did not ‘give [an] [expletive] that the gunman had pointed a gun at him and told Mr. Aguilar to leave,” lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.
Venetian security did not take a statement from Aguilar and did not take any action to find the man with the gun, the lawsuit said.
“The Venetian defendants’ actions led inexorably to Mr. Aguilar being first threatened by a gunman with a loaded handgun on the Venetian defendant’s gaming floor, and then being shot by the same gunman outside the Venetian while Venetian defendants and at least three of their security guards sat on their hands, watched the scene unfold on their video surveillance system, and did absolutely nothing to protect Mr. Aguilar.”
Firearms are banned on the Venetian property, excluding on-duty law enforcement, a posting on the Venetian’s website said.
The lawsuit alleges Venetian security should have been aware that a man with a gun, who was just allegedly in an altercation, was on the property. The man with the gun took off his hat, his mask and a poncho after threatening Aguilar but remained on the property, the lawsuit said.
Aguilar and his friends left the casino and were walking on the sidewalk outside when the alleged gunman and a friend greeted him, the lawsuit said. Aguilar was holding a bottle of beer in his hand at the time.
Police allege Aguilar and his group then hit the alleged gunman and his friend with beer bottles on the street, documents said. Aguilar’s attorneys said Aguilar was protecting himself.
“Mr. Aguilar, acting purely in self-defense, reached for the gunman to disable him and wrest the handgun away from him. At that moment, Mr. Aguilar dropped his cell phone and the beer bottle also slipped from his hands as he fought for his life against the gunman,” the lawsuit said.
The gunman then shot Aguilar in his groin, the lawsuit said. He was able to “[use] the gunman’s pistol to hit him and end the violent attack,” the lawsuit said.
Two Las Vegas Metro police officers responded, finding Aguilar holding the pistol, the lawsuit said. The officers pointed their weapons at Aguilar, thinking he was the shooter and not the victim, the lawsuit said.
“Fortunately, law enforcement did not mistakenly shoot and kill Mr. Aguilar, but the Venetian defendants’ callous acts and negligence put Mr. Aguilar in harm’s way for a third time, this time by not reporting the gunman and the incident on the gaming floor to law enforcement at the time it happened.”
Several Venetian employees rendered aid to Aguilar on the sidewalk while he waited for an ambulance, the lawsuit said. Aguilar has since undergone several surgeries to save his leg, the lawsuit said.
The alleged gunman was later arrested inside Treasure Island.
The lawsuit claims negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress and requests a jury trial with damages of more than $50,000.
Representatives for the Venetian said the resort does not comment on pending litigation.
“All we do is observe and report,” a Venetian security employee told a grand jury last year. “So if I saw this guy on the street, I couldn’t tell you what his name was to be fair. We have a security department that does all that. And if we identify anybody it would be through Las Vegas Metro and they would have all their documentation for that. That’s how we do that.”
A grand jury indicted Aguilar, his friend and the alleged gunman on several charges involving the altercation on the street, documents said. Aguilar pleaded not guilty. A trial in his criminal case was scheduled to begin on Jan. 30.
The alleged gunman faces additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon and other gun-related charges. More information about him was not immediately available Thursday as Metro police declined to release an incident report, citing an open investigation.
Attorneys Michael Popok and Amanda Brookhyser are representing Aguilar.