Las Vegas officers describe storming shooter Stephen Paddock’s hotel room
Tonight, for the first time you’ll hear details of the assault from the officers who carried it out.
One week ago, just after 10 o’clock at night, 22,000 people became targets at a country music concert. Las Vegas detective Casey Clarkson was among them.
Casey Clarkson: The fire just starts hitting us. And you just hear–[Body cam: They are shooting right at us, guys, everyone stay down, stay down.]
Casey Clarkson: I just remember, like, it was, like– like, white spark, like, powder almost, like, hitting the concrete, hittin’ the van. I mean, I’m just watching these rounds hit all, like, right next to us. And I’m like, “How is he so accurate?”
Bill Whitaker: Bullets just raining down on–
Casey Clarkson: –it’s just raining down the whole time. And I just remember, I’m like, I’m just looking at my gun. I’m just like, “I got a pistol in my hand and this guy’s shooting at me with an automatic rifle.”
Bill Whitaker: You got grazed. But you– you have shrapnel.
Casey Clarkson: Yeah, I got a piece of shrapnel in my neck. And I grabbed it for a second. And it was already just pouring blood, dripping off my hand and I was like, oh, my goodness.
Casey Clarkson: And I wanted to try to do more. But my partner was worried because I was getting light-headed at one point.
Casey Clarkson: And I said, “You know what, I’m just gonna stay. And I’m gonna help as many people as I can.”
Bill Whitaker: Doing this while your neck is bleeding.
Casey Clarkson: Yes, sir.
Las Vegas police released department body cam footage of the chaos on the ground as Stephen Paddock fired from above.
Joshua Bitsko: And– so I hear– probably Casey’s radio traffic– of, you know, he– “We’re takin’ fire. Don’t go down the boulevard.”
[Police radio: We’re trying to see where the shots are coming from if anyone can advise that they’re coming from the Mandalay.]
Joshua Bitsko: I just yell to these guys, “Let’s go. There’s an active shooter.”
Sergeant Joshua Bitsko and Officer Dave Newton of the K9-unit had been training dogs when they heard the call.
Joshua Bitsko: So we jump in our cars and hop on the freeway and we were there probably within five minutes.
Detective Matthew Donaldson was doing paperwork at headquarters. He sped nine miles to the Mandalay Bay. In the chaos, he had to run the last few blocks. His cowboy boots rubbed his feet raw.
Matthew Donaldson: I took my boots off. I just threw ’em in the casino. That was slowing me down. I was faster barefoot and I was gonna be more effective barefoot.
Bill Whitaker: How did you end up being first responders? Are you assigned to be first responders? Or you just got up and ran in– into the danger zone and got there first?
Dave Newton: Correct. We heard it over the radio. We heard, you know, active shooter. Multiple victims.
Joshua Bitsko: We’re told that security is taking fire from a suspect on the 29th floor. And that we had other officers that were identifying the suspect was in a room on the 32nd floor. So we’re thinking multiple shooters at this point.
The three officers zeroed in on the 32nd floor just after a hotel-security guard named Jesus Campos encountered heavy fire–200 rounds shot into the hallway from behind Stephen Paddocks’s door.
Officers Bitsko and Newton ran to the stairs. Detective Donaldson and a SWAT officer, Levi Hancock, did too. This ad-hoc group of officers didn’t know what they would face, but they soon discovered Paddock had barricaded the stairwell door.
Joshua Bitsko: He had screwed shut the door– with a piece of metal and some screws.
Matthew Donaldson: In the stairwell.
Joshua Bitsko: In the stairwell going out to the hallway right by his door.
Dave Newton: ‘Cause he knew we’d be coming out that door to gain entry into his door. So he tried to barricade it as best he could. But thankfully Levi had– a pry bar and was able to easily pop that door.
The K9 cops, the detective, and the SWAT officer were now a team.
Bill Whitaker: So essentially you became the SWAT team.
Dave Newton: Uh-huh (affirm)
Joshua Bitsko: Yes.
Matthew Donaldson: Pretty much.
[Police radio: You need to be careful of booby traps…are you coming up the stairwell of coming up the elevator.]
Bill Whitaker: I heard on the radio calls that they were telling you to watch out there could be booby-traps.
Dave Newton: There’s a room service cart with wires going on it underneath the– door. There was something black on top of the cart. So initially I’m, you know, I’m thinking, “This is a booby-trap. It’s– it’s gonna explode.”
Bill Whitaker: ‘Cause it looked suspicious?
Dave Newton: Very suspicious. It turned out to be cameras on the food tray.
Bill Whitaker: What’d you see?
Dave Newton: I could see the suspect’s door was just riddled with bullet holes coming out. it looked like Swiss cheese.
Bill Whitaker: He had the advantage.
Dave Newton: Yeah, he– ’cause he knew we were coming and we were gonna have to come through. We didn’t know where he was gonna be in that room.
Joshua Bitsko: It’s like a deadly game of hide and seek because when you’re the one hiding you always know a person’s looking for you it’s– before they see you. I remember thinkin’, “Man, I wish I had my dog with me,” because, you know, it’s nice to have him lead a team.
Levi Hancock, the SWAT team member, was armed with explosive charges to blow through doors. Around 11 p.m. the team began to execute a plan. They had heard no gunfire since reaching the hallway, and had no idea what or who was behind the door. David Newton had a hand-held ballistic shield.
Dave Newton: Now I’m standing out in front of this bullet-ridden door with nothing except for a shield that’s, you know, I’m hoping would help a little bit. And– that was the point I said– I just start praying that nothing goes off of phone wise or radio or anything else ’cause we’re trying to be as quiet as we can ’cause we didn’t want him to know we were out there and start spraying at us. And I’m watchin’ Levi put the charge on ’em. I’m like, “Hurry, hurry, hurry, but be quiet.” And– so then we got it hung and then we retreated back into the stairwell, blow the door.
Police radio: We need to pop this and see if we can get any type of response from this guy – to see if he is in here or if he’s actually moved on somewhere else.