LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In the days and months after the 1 October tragedy, Las Vegas does what Las Vegas always seems to be able to do: We dug in and bounced back.
In many ways, we came back not only stronger but also safer.
13 Investigates shows what has happened in terms of compensating victims' families and making the valley more secure.
Immediately in the wake of 1 October, dozens of lawsuits were filed seeking compensation for more than 4,000 victims and answers for all of us. We're taking a look at the status of that litigation and what security changes the cases prompted.
"There was a lot of chaos in the beginning," said attorney Robert Eglet.
Chaos took the form of lawsuits. Eglet saw them filed immediately following the tragedy. Many by out-of-state law firms, mostly in California where so many of the victims lived.
"I got all those lawyers to voluntarily dismiss all of those cases and then work together as a group collectively and move forward and come up with a model complaint for us to use," said Eglet.
That complaint filed here in Clark County accused MGM of negligence for what many viewed as significant lapses in security:
- No suspicions were voiced as the gunman continued to bring in more and more luggage days after his initial check-in, sometimes using a service elevator with the help of staff.
- He also checked into a second adjacent room under a different name but he was alone the entire time.
- A "Do Not Disturb" placard was placed on his door for over 36 hours without investigation by staff.
MGM chose not to fight the allegations and instead went right to settlement talks. A move Eglet appreciated.
"When they stepped forward and we got into this mediation, they did everything they could do to try to do the right thing. And as I said then and I say again, I thought it was a perfect example of true corporate responsibility in the community," Eglet explained.
Which provided a level of help many desperately needed.
"It helped with medical bills, it helped with financial needs with children, and spouses who lost their spouses, or spouses that were permanently injured," said Eglet.
The settlement also saved survivors and victims' families from reliving the tragedy over and over in a long, drawn-out court battle.
"I think it provides them some closure to understand that, 'Well, it's over with now and I don't have to think about that all the time anymore,'" Eglet explained.
MGM provided the following statement:
"1 October was a tragedy that forever changed our community, and we continue to grieve with and support those impacted by that senseless act of violence. We were grateful for the opportunity to resolve legal issues in recent years so that we can come together as a community and move forward in the healing process. Establishing an official, permanent memorial to reflect and honor victims is vital to that process, and we are honored to donate a portion of the Village site for use by Clark County to help bring a memorial to fruition."
Security expert Adam Coughran spent 19 years as a police officer in Orange County, California, with the tourist-oriented policing unit.
"Temporary changes were things like handheld detectors or security at every entrance to a hotel, wanding everybody who came through, rapid change of policy to prohibit firearms or guns, knives, other types of weapons as a bit of a knee-jerk reaction," said Coughran.
He says some important permanent changes were made as well.
"We've seen a lot of hotels that have gone away from a 'Do Not Disturb' sign to 'Room Occupied' sign. And that's mostly that we want to allow people in a room every 24 hours, whether it's for service, for towels, for housekeeping, whatever the need may be," Coughran explained. "No longer can people stay three, four or five, six days and not have a room attendant or a housekeeper in the room."
"They don't let even high rollers go up service elevators anymore," said Eglet. "They have much better security. And so, they made a lot of changes."
MGM provided the following response about security:
"We are constantly evaluating and refining our security procedures to make them as effective as possible and work closely with law enforcement and security experts on protocols and procedures to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone."
Coughran says security threats should be looked at like puzzles.
"Perhaps a bellman or front desk agent has one piece of that puzzle and then maybe a security officer has a different piece of that puzzle," said Coughran. "And what we saw, in this case, was I think a lot of people had a lot of pieces to the puzzle, but there was no real good way to put all those pieces together to see the overarching picture that this was a lot of concerning behavior at the same time. "
The hotel industry has since designed training for housekeepers and staff so they know what to look for.
"Even outside of weapons and firearms, things that would be suspicious, that could lead to some sort of nefarious activity, some sort of attack or some sort of planning, everything from, you know, from human trafficking to active shooters."
Properties are also using technology to bolster security in new ways.
"Not only video surveillance, but some of the artificial intelligence to understand how people move about a property and they start to pick out those behaviors that even sometimes the most well-trained eye isn't picking up or understanding," said Coughran.
He says cases prompt changes to keep us all a little safer.
"We'll continue to look forward into the future to see, OK, what might be next? What can we try to prepare for now, so we don't have to deal with it tomorrow?" said Coughran.
As for the lawsuit, attorney Eglet says it's the first time a global settlement has been reached in a mass shooting case on behalf of the victims.
The exact amount of money each victim received is confidential. But we did learn people were compensated based on the type and severity of their injury. There were several levels considered:
- Crowd impact, trampling type injuries had two severity levels.
- There were two severity levels for gunshot injuries also.
- The amount of money awarded for wrongful death claims took into consideration the number of minor children the decedent had as well as the number of earnings they made that year.
- Those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder also received funds, the amount depending on if they received treatment or not.
While nearly all of the victims have already been paid through the massive settlement, some are still waiting. The case remains active with a status check scheduled for later this month to make sure that everyone gets paid.
We'll keep an eye on that until the case is formally closed.
Those looking for support can call the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center at (702) 455-2433 or visit their website VegasStrongRC.org.