Vegas security guard shot before rampage appears to have vanished
The man that many want to honor and who can help bring clarity about the timeline of the shooting has vanished from the public eye
Melissa Etehad and Ruben Vives and Jaweed Kaleem
Los Angeles Times
The story seemed straightforward: The unarmed security guard approached Stephen Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, distracting the gunman and potentially saving lives.
With a gunshot wound to his leg, he helped point officers to the gunman’s location and stayed behind to evacuate hotel guests.
He was hailed a hero by many, even as the story changed. Twice.
Now, the man that many want to honor and who can help bring clarity about the timeline of the shooting has vanished from the public eye, less than two weeks since the Oct. 1 massacre, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 others injured.
David Hickey, president of the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America union, said it had been four days since he last saw Jesus Campos.
“We have had no contact with him…. Clearly, somebody knows where he is," he said.
Hickey said he was with Campos on Thursday, coordinating a series of interviews that the guard was scheduled to give about the attack. They included appearances on the Sean Hannity show on Fox, as well as news shows on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC. Campos was staying in a suite in a Las Vegas hotel, Hickey said.
Hickey said he was attending a meeting with MGM representatives in one room of the suite as Campos waited with a security guard — hired by MGM — and another union member in the living room.
When the meeting ended about 2 p.m., Hickey said Campos was no longer in the room.
"When I got in touch with the other union member, I was told Campos was taken to the Quick Care" health clinic, Hickey said. He didn't hear from the guard afterward and announced to a scrum of reporters that night that Campos had canceled interviews.
Since the days that Paddock opened fire at people attending a country music festival across from Mandalay Bay, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has shifted its timeline more than once.
Initially, investigators said that Campos was shot after Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest festival concert.
Then, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Campos was shot at 9:59 p.m., six minutes before the concert began. Finally, at a brief news conference last Friday, he said Campos was shot by the gunman at 10:05 p.m.
Lombardo's revision on Friday was made a day after MGM Resorts, which owns Mandalay Bay, disputed the department's timeline. In a statement, MGM said the time of 9:59 p.m. came from a hotel report that was created manually and was not accurate. Casino officials said the gunman was firing at concertgoers "at the same time as, or within 40 seconds after," Campos reported the gunfire over his radio.
Lombardo also said the guard had been investigating an alarm for a door that had been left ajar on the 32nd floor, where the shooting occurred. He also said that Paddock had checked into the hotel on Sept. 25, not Sept. 28 as had been previously reported.
The correction raises questions about why it took police 12 minutes to find the gunman’s hotel room when officers were already in the building and why they were searching other rooms when they were told the gunman was on the 32nd floor.
According to a former security guard for Mandalay Bay, armed guards routinely patrol the hotel’s hallways. Campos was using a device to log in his whereabouts at the casino.
The former security guard, who worked there in the early 2000s, questioned Lombardo’s statement that Campos was investigating the open door alarm.
“There was no alarm system for opened doors when I was there,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss security issues. “You know how often people would have to call hotel guests if that was the case?”
One of Campos’ co-workers wasn’t surprised by his actions. She hopes Campos emerges and talks to the public so that people can honor him for his bravery. “He was always in the middle of what was going down,” said the co-worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concerns she would lose her job.
“He’s humble and so charming,” she added.
Campos had been living in a quiet residential neighborhood in northern Las Vegas. On Sunday afternoon, a man sat in a white truck parked outside the house where Campos is said to live. The license plate on his truck was hidden with a white towel.
He said he had been hired to guard the house and prevent the news media from entering the property. He declined to say who had hired him.
Three “no trespassing” signs clung to the fence and house, with a warning to reporters: “No media on property.”
Neighbors, startled by the sight of the man sitting in his truck, said they didn’t notice him until last week. "I was going to call police," said Alejandra Andrea, a neighbor who lives across the street.
Friends, co-workers and neighbors who know Campos described him as a private person. Still, Jaime Ruano, Campos’ neighbor, also wondered why the security guard has apparently disappeared.
"He's a hero,” Ruano said, “and nobody knows where he is.”
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