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updated: 10/4/2017 5:57 PM

Las Vegas high-rise shooting scenario a security nightmare

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  • FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, Secret Service snipers keep watch from the roof of the Sept. 11 Memorial Museum during the ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, Secret Service snipers keep watch from the roof of the Sept. 11 Memorial Museum during the ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 file photo, drapes billow out of broken windows at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, following a mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. From two broken-out windows of the resort, Stephen Craig Paddock had an unobstructed view to rain automatic gunfire on the crowd, with few places for them to hide. Sunday night’s bloodbath left dozens of people dead and hundreds wounded.

    FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 file photo, drapes billow out of broken windows at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, following a mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. From two broken-out windows of the resort, Stephen Craig Paddock had an unobstructed view to rain automatic gunfire on the crowd, with few places for them to hide. Sunday night’s bloodbath left dozens of people dead and hundreds wounded.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2014 file photo, a sniper team stands watch during a visit by the prime minister of India to the National September 11 Memorial, in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2014 file photo, a sniper team stands watch during a visit by the prime minister of India to the National September 11 Memorial, in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2015 file photo, a New York police officer uses binoculars while keeping watch from a rooftop along Times Square during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2015 file photo, a New York police officer uses binoculars while keeping watch from a rooftop along Times Square during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2015 file photo, people gather at Times Square during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2015 file photo, people gather at Times Square during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2016 file photo, revelers stand in New York's Times Square during celebrations for New Year's Eve. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2016 file photo, revelers stand in New York's Times Square during celebrations for New Year's Eve. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2015 file photo, people congregate on a street during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York's Times Square. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2015 file photo, people congregate on a street during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York's Times Square. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

  • FILE - Dec. 31, 2016 file photo, revelers take part in the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square as seen from the Marriott Marquis. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.

    FILE - Dec. 31, 2016 file photo, revelers take part in the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square as seen from the Marriott Marquis. A Las Vegas shooting from a high-rise hotel that killed dozens of people in a packed concert below on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, has forced other cities to examine their tactics for dealing with this kind of nightmare scenario. In New York, which hosts Times Square New Year's Eve and other events surrounded by high-rises, police say they use rooftop snipers to scan for threats, and make security sweeps of nearby hotels.
    Associated Press

 
 

NEW YORK -- A Las Vegas shooter's perch in a 32nd-floor hotel room overlooking 22,000 people jammed into a country music festival below is just the kind of nightmare scenario police dread in places where big crowds and high-rises mix.

From two broken-out windows of the Mandalay Bay Resort, Stephen Craig Paddock had an unobstructed view to rain rapid-fire bullets on the crowd, with few places for them to hide. Survivors of Sunday night's bloodbath that left 58 victims dead and more than 500 wounded repeatedly compared it to shooting fish in a barrel.

In places like New York, Chicago and Austin, Texas, where big events are planned in the coming days, police sought to reassure jittery residents Tuesday of some of the precautions they are taking to prevent just such a scenario.

New York City's police boss says that regularly includes sharpshooters with binoculars on rooftops scanning nearby building windows for potential threats, helicopters circling above with snipers of their own, and detectives making security sweeps of nearby hotels.

But he acknowledged there is only so much that can be done.

"We do understand," said NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, "that no city or town in this country is completely immune to such unbridled hatred."

Added David Katz, CEO of Global Security Group, which conducts active-shooter training around the world: "The answer only really is, if there's a sniper, there's a counter-sniper."

But "you're not going to be able to deploy police units with sniper capabilities everywhere," Katz said. "There are, at some point, too many things going on, too many opportunities to stop them all. Unfortunately, if someone is intent on doing harm they will find a way to do it."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose son will be among the 45,000 runners in the city's annual marathon Sunday, said emergency officials, including federal authorities, have conducted roughly a dozen workshops to talk through various scenarios and Chicago is prepared for "any eventuality."

"People don't just show up on marathon day and decide to run 26 miles. They train all year," Emanuel said. "That's also true of the Chicago police."

Despite assurances of a heavy police presence at this weekend's Austin City Limits music festival, expected to draw 75,000 people a day to a large park near the city's downtown, organizers were offering refunds to anyone uncomfortable with attending following the Las Vegas shooting.

Austin knows all-too well the dangers of high-angle shootings. In August 1966, Marine-trained sniper Charles Whitman fired for an hour and a half from the 27-story clock tower in the heart of the University of Texas campus, killing 17 people and wounding 30 more. Police stopped the carnage by shooting Whitman.

In the Las Vegas shooting, police say Paddock fired from his hotel suite for nine to 11 minutes before eventually killing himself. They say they found 23 guns in the room, along with 12 "bump stock" devices that can enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire continuously, like a fully automatic weapon.

Perhaps the most stark example of the crowd-building dynamic is in New York, where the city's 36,000-officer department regularly goes on high alert for such events as the New Year's Eve Times Square celebration, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, Monday's Columbus Day parade, even some Yankees games.

For such events, the NYPD puts officers with body armor and high-powered weapons around the perimeter, sharpshooters on nearby rooftops to scan the windows of other buildings for threats, and cops with bullhorns on the streets instructing gawkers in nearby buildings to keep their windows closed.

They also have detectives ramp up security sweeps at hotels, particularly ahead of the holiday season. And the NYPD has a program to train thousands of private businesses and employees, from housekeeping staff to security, on how to spot explosives or tell a golf bag from a gun case.

David C. Kelly, associate managing director K2 Intelligence and the former assistant commissioner for counterterrorism at the NYPD, said the shooting forces private security and law enforcement alike to give more regular events treatment usually reserved for special occasions like a president or a pope's visit.

"It's a big ask, but maybe that's what needs to be done now," Kelly said. "It's forcing law enforcement to look at this in three dimensions, the car in the crowd, the bomb in the backpack, now the assault from the air."

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Deepti Hajela in New York, Sophia Tareen in Chicago and Will Weissert in Austin contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that the death toll is 58, not including the gunman, based on revised information from the Clark County coroner.

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