LAS VEGAS (AFP) – A woman with a toddler in her car deliberately and repeatedly rammed into pedestrians on the packed Las Vegas Strip Sunday, killing one person and injuring at least 26 others, police said.
“This was not an act of terrorism… we ve ruled that out,” Deputy Police Chief Brett Zimmerman told reporters.
But he added: “We have determined that this is an intentional act.”
The Las Vegas Strip, lined with casinos and fancy hotels, attracts throngs of tourists from around the world and is usually abuzz with activity.
The incident occurred on the same night that Las Vegas hosted the popular Miss Universe pageant, which saw the crowning of Miss Philippines at a venue not far from where the chaotic scene unfolded.
Witness Rabia Qureshi, a tourist from Wisconsin, told the local NBC station KSNV that the vehicle in question looked like “a bowling ball and the human bodies were like pins.”
“You think it s a show, because you re in Vegas,” Qureshi was quoted as saying by NBC News. “But then I saw some people fly in the air.”
The suspect was in custody, speaking with detectives and undergoing several tests, including for alcohol.
Police — urging more witnesses to come forward — described her as an African American woman in her 20s who was driving a 1996 Oldsmobile with Oregon license plates.
The three-year-old toddler in the car was unharmed, they said.
“She went up off the street, onto the sidewalk, two or possibly three times,” Las Vegas police Lieutenant Dan McGrath told reporters, describing the suspect s actions.
He said the woman was expected to be charged within hours.
Zimmerman told reporters that one person had been killed and another 26 people were taken to area hospitals after the incident.
He said six of those injured and listed in critical condition were now stable.
Police had earlier put the number of people hurt at over 37.
Local media outlet 8 News NOW said the incident occurred shortly after 6:30 pm between Planet Hollywood, where the Miss Universe pageant took place, and the Paris Las Vegas Hotel.
“There were men running after her trying to stop the vehicle. They couldn t get to her. They were yelling stop, and she wasn t trying,” one witness told CNN.
The suspect initially left the scene, police confirmed.
Another local media outlet, KTNV, reported that the University Medical Center, one of three hospitals where the injured were taken, said most of its patients were from Montreal in Canada.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called the incident a “tragic and shocking event.”
Cars were diverted near the Paris Las Vegas hotel, where the Strip was shut down as first responders rushed to the scene, according to CNN.
Images from the scene showed a slew of police cars and ambulances against the backdrop of the city s glitzy world famous hotels.
Authorities said it was likely that the Las Vegas Boulevard would remain closed for most of the night as the probe into what happened continued.