'Target list' and conspiracy theories: what is known about the shooter who killed three people at the University of Nevada
The 67-year-old college professor who shot and killed three faculty members at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) this week maintained a so-called target list among faculty at that and other institutions. The publication spoke in more detail CNN.
Investigators found ammunition and an eviction notice in Anthony Polito's apartment and identified nearly two dozen emails he sent to university employees across the country in the hours leading up to the shooting. He was, according to his online posts and former students, interested in conspiracy theories and Las Vegas.
Polito was shot and killed by police on December 6. It all happened near the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, when a sniper killed more than 2017 people and wounded hundreds at an outdoor concert on the Las Vegas Strip in 50. The Dec. 6 incident was the 80th school shooting in the United States this year, including the 29th on university or college campuses.
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Polito, armed with a 9 mm handgun and nine loaded magazines, wounded a visiting male professor in a building that is part of the business school. He received medical attention, Las Vegas Sheriff Kevin McMahill said.
None of the victims were on Polito's "target list," which included "people he was looking for on campus, as well as faculty members at East Carolina University," McMahill said. The sheriff did not explain why investigators believed it was a "target list" or where they found the document.
It remains unclear why Polito, who lives in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, targeted UNLV or whether he had any ties to the school. McMahill said he applied unsuccessfully for several higher education jobs in Nevada and appeared to be experiencing financial difficulties.
An eviction notice was found on the door of Polito's Henderson apartment, the sheriff said. In the hours before the shooting, Polito sent 22 emails to university employees across the country without a return address. At least some of the envelopes contained a harmless white powder, Las Vegas police said. More detailed information about the contents of the letters has not been made public.
Detectives, McMahill said, are asking people in academia who receive a letter without a return address to "proceed with caution."
UNLV mourns beloved faculty
UNLV President Keith Whitfield said the shooting, which occurred just days before the start of final exams, was “the most difficult day in the history of our university.”
Those killed were business school professors Patricia Navarro-Velez and Cha-Jan "Jerry" Chang, Whitfield said. According to him, the name of the third killed teacher will be announced after the relatives of this person are notified.
“I won't sugarcoat it. “We’re all hurting right now,” Whitfield noted. “But it is in difficult times like these that we must lean on each other for support. We are still struggling to find words as we begin to process the grief, loss, anger and fear surrounding the tragic campus shooting that claimed the lives of three of our dear faculty members.”
Whitfield remembered fondly and regretfully Navarro-Velez, 39, an assistant professor of accounting who taught at the school for nearly five years and “dedicated her career to teaching the next generation of accountants,” as well as Chang, 64, who taught business students for more than 20 years. UNLV School of Management Information Systems.
Ammunition and conspiracies
During a search of Polito's apartment, investigators found several computers and hard drives and are now reviewing the devices and their owner's social media for a possible motive, the sheriff said.
Ammunition consistent with shell casings was found at the scene of the shooting, along with a box matching the gun police believe Polito used. On the chair, investigators found a document that appeared to be a “last will and testament.”
Polito's online posts show an interest in gambling and conspiracy theories. His personal website includes a section dedicated to "powerful organizations bent on global domination!" and links to such common sources of conspiracy theory as Freemasonry, the Trilateral Commission and the "Rothschild family." Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, a common target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, is included in the list of "Great Minds of the Twentieth Century" along with Albert Einstein.
Meanwhile, according to three of Polito's former students, he often talked about Las Vegas and visited the city when he could, teaching in other states. His website states that he has made "more than two dozen trips to Vegas over the past fifteen years," although it is unclear when that statement was released.
Polito had an unconventional teaching style and often opened classes with stories about Las Vegas, said Jonathan Peralta, who took one of Polito's classes at East Carolina University in 2013 or 2014.
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Polito worked at East Carolina University's College of Business from 2001 until he retired in 2017 as a tenured assistant professor. From October 2018 to June 2022, he was affiliated with Rosman University of Nevada, attending and working as an adjunct professor, a university spokesman said, and also worked in academia in Georgia, as evidenced by his now-deleted LinkedIn page.
How the shooting unfolded
Polito arrived at the university on Dec. 6 around 11:3 a.m., minutes before the shooting began in Beam Hall. During this time, teachers prepared their classes for upcoming tests, and students outside enjoyed games, food and other entertainment.
Police began receiving 911 calls around 11:45 a.m., prompting officers to rush to the campus, McMahill said.
The sheriff said officers entered Beam Hall, which has no internal cameras, and the first officer arrived 78 seconds after the first 911 call, said Adam Garcia of University Police.
Polito walked through several floors of the building, with Navarro-Velez working on the fourth floor and Chang on the third, the sheriff said.
The shooter left the building around 11:55 a.m., he said.
University police, McMahill said, encountered Polito in the street, who was shot multiple times and lost consciousness. He was arrested and died on the spot.
“Officers then assembled task forces and began a systematic search for additional suspects and victims,” he said. – These groups went through several buildings and several floors. Many times we had to force our way into rooms where students and teachers were hiding.”
As ForumDaily wrote earlier:
- December 6 in Las Vegas on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) shooting occurred.
- Dead suspect in the University of Nevada (UNLV) Las Vegas shooting - 67-year-old Anthony Polito. As a result of this, three people were killed and one was injured.
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