Police: Firearms, ‘Anarchist Textbook’ Found in Ricin Hotel Room

Saturday, March 01, 2008

LAS VEGAS —  As police tried to piece together how a rare, fatal poison ended up in a motel for transients, the 57-year-old man who could hold the key lay unconscious in a Las Vegas hospital room.Adding to the mystery, police said that firearms and an “anarchist-type textbook” were found in the same room the ricin was found — two days before vials of the substance were discovered Thursday.

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Capt. Joseph Lombardo said at a press conference late Friday that the book was tabbed at a spot with information about ricin. Police found the weapons and books on Tuesday, after a manager at the Extended Stay America motel called police upon finding weapons, he said.

After authorities seized the book and weapons, tests for ricin were conducted but were negative, said Lombardo.

Lombardo said a 53-year-old friend or relative of the sick man made contact with motel management on Feb. 22 to inform them about pets in the room — a dog and two cats.

Earlier Friday, police Deputy Chief Kathy Suey said that the friend or relative found the vials after going to the motel to retrieve the hospitalized man’s belongings, and brought them to the apartment manager. Authorities confirmed Friday the vials contained ricin.

It was unclear how long the vials were in the unoccupied motel room, and whether they might have been overlooked when ricin tests were conducted on Tuesday.

Lombardo did not address such questions during the brief news conference.

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Highly Poisonous Ricin May Have Been Found At Hotel

POSTED: 9:28 pm PST February 28, 2008
UPDATED: 10:55 pm PST February 28, 2008

Ricin 6,000 Times More Toxic Than Cyanide

LAS VEGASMetro Homeland Security reports four people were sent to the hospital for possible ricin poisoning at the Extended-Stay America hotel at West Flamingo Road and South Valley View Boulevard.

Video: Highly Toxic Substance May Be At Hotel

At about 3 p.m. Thursday, an employee found a substance in one of the hotel’s apartments when he was cleaning it and took it to the office. The four people, three of whom were employees, who were exposed to the substance were sent to the hospital, and the area surrounding the apartment was evacuated, according to Metro.

As of Thursday night, the four people were OK.

Preliminary reports indicate the substance may have been ricin, a substance that is 6,000 times more toxic than cyanide. There is no known antidote.

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Fire Breaks Out at Monte Carlo Resort on Las Vegas Strip

Friday, January 25, 2008


Jan. 25: View from the Wild West Casino, across the 15 from the Monte Carlo Casino, before emergency crews had even arrived.

LAS VEGAS —  A three-alarm fire broke out Friday on the roof of the Monte Carlo hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip and spread rapidly, but was contained within about an hour.

“We have knock down,” Clark County Fire Chief Steve Smith said.

Click here to view photos.   The photos are a slide show of 33  

Smith couldn’t estimate damage to the 32-story hotel.

“As we go out of the danger zone, we’ll methodically check each floor,” said the chief. “No rooms are burning.”

The fire broke out about 11 a.m. local time and spread from the center section of the hotel across the roof line. The top four or five floors of the building were engulfed in flames …..[ Full Story ]

Joey Bishop, Last of the ‘Rat Pack,’ Dies at 89

Thursday, October 18, 2007

 LOS ANGELES —  Joey Bishop, the stone-faced comedian who found success in nightclubs, television and movies but became most famous as a member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, has died at 89.He was the group’s last surviving member. Peter Lawford died in 1984, Sammy Davis Jr. in 1990, Dean Martin in 1995, and Sinatra in 1998.

Bishop died Wednesday night of multiple causes at his home in Newport Beach, publicist and longtime friend Warren Cowan said Thursday.

The Rat Pack became a show business sensation in the early 1960s, appearing at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in shows that combined music and comedy in a seemingly chaotic manner.

The Rat Pack faded after Kennedy’s assassination, but the late 1990s brought a renaissance, with the group depicted in an HBO movie and portrayed by imitators in Las Vegas and elsewhere. The movie “Ocean’s Eleven” was even remade in 2003 with George Clooney and Brad Pitt in the lead roles.

Bishop defended his fellow performers’ rowdy reputations in a 1998 interview.

“Are we remembered as being drunk and chasing broads?” he asked. “I never saw Frank, Dean, Sammy or Peter drunk during performances. That was only a gag. And do you believe these guys had to chase broads? They had to chase ’em away.”

Reviewers often claimed that Bishop played a minor role, but Sinatra knew otherwise. He termed the comedian “the Hub of the Big Wheel,” with Bishop coming up with some of the best one-liners and beginning many jokes with his favorite phrase, “Son of a gun!”

“He was the perfect match for the Rat Pack. He fit right in like an old shoe,” Hollywood’s honorary mayor, Johnny Grant, said Thursday.

The quintet lived it up whenever members were free of their own commitments. They appeared together in such films as “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Sergeants 3” and proudly gave honorary membership to a certain fun-loving politician from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy, at whose inauguration gala Bishop served as master of ceremonies.

The full story here

5 Injured in Vegas Casino Shooting After Man Opens Fire

Friday, July 06, 2007

LAS VEGAS —  A man on a balcony over the New York-New York casino floor opened fire on the gamblers below early Friday, wounding four people before he was tackled by off-duty military reservists, police said. A fifth person was hurt in a crush of people fleeing the casino.

“It was crazy, pandemonium,” said Jade Jacobson, 28, a tourist from Deland, Fla., whose cousin, a dance teacher from Pennsylvania, was wounded in the leg.

“People were running and jumping over slot machines and knocking over chairs,” Jacobson said. “All I was thinking was that I could die right now.”

Police said 16 shots were fired, and again revised the number of injured in the 12:45 a.m. shooting. All the injuries were described as minor, and none of the victims remained hospitalized Friday morning, authorities said.

Las Vegas police Capt. James Dillon said a woman and a teenage boy were wounded; a man was grazed by a bullet; a woman was hit by a bullet fragment or shrapnel; and a woman was bruised and scraped when she fell amid the crowd of people exiting the casino.

Steven Zegrean, 51, of Las Vegas, was arrested on felony charges including attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm in an occupied structure, Dillon said.

“All we know so far is that he was emotionally distraught,” Dillon said. “I can say with absolute certainty that this has nothing whatever to do with terrorism.”

Zegrean emptied a semiautomatic handgun toward the casino floor before he was tackled by a U.S. Army reservist, a Navy reservist and others who held him for police, Dillon said. He said he did not know the names of the people who intervened.

Dillon said police have a casino surveillance video that shows the shooting.

Melody Zegrean, 43, a Las Vegas resident who identified herself as Steven Zegrean’s cousin, said he had been divorced for several years and estranged from most of his family since his ex-wife remarried.

“I love my cousin and everything,” she said, “but his temper and not being able to relate has really gotten worse recently. He’s been threatening the family for some time now. He’s been pushing everyone away.”

She described Steven Zegrean as a Hungarian immigrant and unemployed house painter who liked to gamble.

Troy Sanchez, a 13-year-old from Van Nuys, Calif., who was wounded in the left ankle, said he heard more than 10 gunshots from a balcony over an escalator that takes customers to the casino floor. He was with his mother and older brother, who works at the casino’s Manhattan Express roller coaster.

“We thought it was fireworks,” the teenager said. “I didn’t even see the guy at all.”

Police said they believed Zegrean entered the casino from a walkway connecting the New York-New York to the MGM Grand, and walked past a vendor and a shop before opening fire near the top of the bank of escalators.

“It seems like some local guy who snapped and went to the hotel to do it,” police Officer Ramon Denby said.

Sanchez and Jacobson’s cousin, who declined to be identified, were treated at University Medical Center in Las Vegas and released. Dillon said both people with graze wounds and the woman who was bruised in the crowd were treated at the scene and released.

Larry Ramos, 33, a tourist from Lansing, Mich., said he arrived at the front of the hotel to find people rushing out.

“There were flip-flops just laying all over the place like people were running out of their shoes,” Ramos said. “Within a minute and a half there were 30 to 40 police there. The cops just swarmed the place with M-16s and their guns out.”

Ramos said bystanders cheered for the wounded when they were wheeled out of the casino to ambulances, and later talked about the people who tackled the gunman.

“People don’t put up with stuff after 9-11 no more,” he said, adding that he was surprised that the casino never shut down.

“That’s what amazed me, Ramos said. “They locked down the tables, but they let people still keep playing the slots.”

The 2,000-room hotel-casino, which opened in 1997, features a facade replicating the New York City skyline, with a 47-story knockoff of the Empire State Building, a 150-foot Statue of Liberty and a Coney Island-style roller coaster. It is owned by MGM Mirage Inc.

Casino spokeswoman Yvette Monet said its operations had been fully restored Friday morning.

“Guests are being informed that it’s business as usual,” Monet said.