In a chilling incident, 67-year-old Anthony Polito, a career college professor, opened fire at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), resulting in three fatalities. The attack, which occurred on Wednesday, ended with Polito being fatally shot by police outside a university building.
The Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner identified two of the victims as ChaJan Chang, a 64-year-old professor, and Patricia Navarro Velez, a 39-year-old assistant professor. The identification of the third victim is in progress. Authorities are investigating whether Polito, who had sought employment at UNLV but was rejected, was motivated by this denial.
Polito had an extensive academic career, with his most recent full-time role as a business professor at East Carolina University (ECU) until 2017. His personal website showcased a range of interests, from Vegas trivia to conspiracy theories, including links to Freemasonry and the Rothschild family.
The weapon used in the shooting, a Taurus PT92 pistol, was legally purchased in Las Vegas approximately 18 months before the incident. The attack began near noon on the fourth floor of Beam Hall, where students were preparing for finals. Polito navigated through multiple floors, eventually engaging in a shootout with police.
In addition to the fatalities, one person was critically injured, and four others were hospitalized due to panic attacks. The incident, which necessitated a campus-wide shelter-in-place order, saw students and staff taking refuge in various locations.
This shooting evoked memories of the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival massacre in Las Vegas. Sheriff McMahill commended the quick response of law enforcement, attributing it to extensive training post the Route 91 incident.
Polito’s LinkedIn page listed him as a “semi-retired university professor” residing in Las Vegas. He had worked as an adjunct faculty at Roseman University in Henderson, Nevada, and held a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia’s business college.
Online profiles and former students’ comments depicted Polito as an unorthodox educator, often sharing personal stories, particularly about Las Vegas. However, his teaching methods were sometimes viewed as too personal and less educational.
Law enforcement received reports of the shooting around 11:45 a.m., leading to a swift response from both on- and off-duty officers. Campus police were involved in the confrontation that led to Polito’s death.
The university has canceled classes through the weekend, with ongoing deliberations on operations for the upcoming final exams week. UNLV President Keith Whitfield expressed his shock and grief, calling the day of the shooting the most tragic in the university’s history.
President Joe Biden extended his condolences to the families affected by the shooting and urged bipartisan cooperation in Congress to address gun violence through legislative measures.