13 Investigates

Actions

UFOs, cyberattacks, McCarran airport name change among big 13 Investigates stories in 2020

Navy confirms declassified military footage shows UFOs
Two downtown Las Vegas casinos suffered a days-long computer glitch which impacted slots and other computer systems
Two downtown Las Vegas casinos suffered a days-long computer glitch which impacted slots and other computer systems
Two downtown Las Vegas casinos suffered a days-long computer glitch which impacted slots and other computer systems
These are photos of the Clark County School Board District headquarters located at Decatur and Jones as seen July 21, 2020
These are photos of the Clark County School Board District headquarters located at Decatur and Jones as seen July 21, 2020
These are photos of the Clark County School Board District headquarters located at Decatur and Jones as seen July 21, 2020
The Clark County School District Headquarters at Sahara and Decatur in Las Vegas as seen in July 2020
The Clark County School District Headquarters at Sahara and Decatur in Las Vegas as seen in July 2020
Posted at 9:08 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-01 20:40:52-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — This year will be remembered largely for the pandemic that has dominated headlines but several other key stories by 13 Investigates in 2020 were among the most read and viewed online.

In April, the Pentagon released perhaps the clearest images yet of a possible UFO in the skies above Earth.

WATCH: Pentagon officially releases UFO video, former NV senator says video 'only scratches the surface'

The video was taken from US warplanes using an infrared camera.

The pilots can be heard talking to each other as they were trying to figure out what they were seeing.

"Until we get some really good evidence, I think you should just be a little bit skeptical," said Dr. Seth Shostak, lead astronomer for the "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" or SETI Institute for short.

"I'm looking for aliens that's what the SETI Institute does, but we don't claim to have found them yet," added Shostak.

The not-for-profit search organization has studied the stars and UFOs for years.

Shostak said the video, officially released by the Pentagon, dates back to 2004 and was first released by a third party around 2017.

But in a year filled with usual circumstances, the government released the video officially but it leaves many more questions about how much, and possibly, how little the public actually knows.

"My assessment is that they travel electronically, they travel through electromagnetic fields," said George Harris, a UFO expert and owner of the Alien Research Center near AREA 51.

"That's how they can get the speed; that's how they can fly at lightspeed," explained Harris.

The thoughts of aliens and government secrets led to a viral internet idea to storm AREA 51 in 2019.

The event drew thousands of people, some attendees were arrested amid the gatherings just outside the heavily-protected military base, but no government secrets were learned or revealed.

"It was very hard for the government to admit there were credible sightings," said Harris, of previous UFO reports.

"The sad thing is, this has been happening since the late 50s, but no one ever talks about it," added Harris.

The April 2020 video release got the attention of former Nevada Senator Harry Reid on Twitter.

From unexplained flying objects to unexplained slot machine outages drew 13 Action News interest.

In March, Binions and the 4 Queens in Downtown Las Vegas appeared to suffer several days of slot machine outages and computer system troubles.

Video circulated on social media, including popular Twitter accounts like Las Vegas Locally and Vital Vegas which showed rows of machines that indicated they were out of service.

Cybersecurity experts say the prolonged outages had the markings of a cyber attack.

"A cybersecurity analyst and researcher has to be right 100% of the time, a cybercriminal only has to get lucky once," said Shannon Wilkinson, a cybersecurity expert with Tego Cyber Inc.

Wilkinson says 2020 saw massive attacks on hospitals, healthcare networks and even school districts.

In August, the Clark County School District acknowledged hackers targeted sensitive student data including social security numbers, names and addresses.

"A lot of ransomware and data attack groups are coming out of Eastern Europe, there's also Iran, China, North Korea; kind of state-sponsored hacking organizations," explained Wilkinson.

The City of Las Vegas revealed their computer systems are attacked more than 250,000 times per month, on average.

By May, racial unrest took over some streets in Las Vegas after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

A series of high-profile killings of Black people by police across the country led to people demanding change and for racial justice which led to weeks of protests.

The unrest revived a new effort to scrub former Nevada Senator Patrick McCarran's name from the Las Vegas airport.

RELATED: Las Vegas leader urges McCarran International Airport name change, denounces legacy as racist

"We are a multicultural, multi-ethnic city and for our airport to be named after a racist and anti-Semite and other things is just unacceptable," said Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom.

Segerblom spoke with 13 Investigates in June about the idea noting McCarran was a hardliner anti-communist and some say left a legacy of racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.

Sen. McCarran served in the US Senate from 1933 until his death in 1954.

He was considered instrumental in establishing the US Air Force as a separate branch of the military and for largely shaping the US air industry as it stands today.

Segerblom wants to rename the airport after former US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Attempts to rename McCarran International Airport have failed in the past, as recently as 2017 and 2018.

13 Investigates spoke to critics opposed to stripping the airport of the McCarran legacy adding scrubbing his name will not change history.

A name change would require a four-person majority vote by the Clark County Commission, which oversees the airport.

If a name change is approved at any point, estimates range to as much as $2 million dollars to replace signs, logos, letterhead, graphics and anything else with the McCarran name.

Segerblom said he would raise the funds privately without the need to burden taxpayers.

EDITORS NOTE: A previous written version of this story incorrectly identified Shannon Wilkinson as the president of Axiom Cyber Solutions. We sincerely regret the error.

13 Investigates - Send us a tip
Do you have a story idea or tip for 13 Investigates? Fill out the form below.
Are you willing to go on camera?

STREAMING NOW

6:38 AM, Nov 25, 2018