U.S. News

Driver who plowed into Las Vegas crowd charged with murder

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - An Oregon woman accused of plowing her car into a crowd on the Las Vegas Strip, killing one person and injuring dozens of others, was charged with murder on Tuesday as investigators sought a reason for her actions.

Lakeisha N. Holloway, 24, who was arrested after the incident on Sunday, has been charged with murder with a deadly weapon in the death of a 32-year-old Arizona woman.

“This is a horrendous and inexcusable act that has needlessly and tragically impacted countless lives,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in a statement.

“I am confident that, as the investigation unfolds, we will be filing many more charges against Ms. Holloway,” he said.

Police said Holloway had been living in the car with her 3-year-old daughter. She has also been charged with child abuse or neglect, for having the child in the car during the incident, and with leaving the scene of a collision, according to the criminal complaint filed in Clark County court.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo said on Monday the incident did not appear to be a militant attack. U.S. law enforcement agencies have been on heightened alert since a married couple inspired by Islamic militants killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, earlier this month.

Police said Holloway repeatedly drove onto the sidewalk, ramming pedestrians and street posts as bystanders pounded on her windows and tried to pull open her car door to stop her.

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The incident occurred near Planet Hollywood, where the Miss Universe beauty pageant was being held.

Holloway was held without bail and scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Officials said Holloway had been living in the car in Las Vegas for about a week and that she was driving with a suspended Oregon license.

After hitting the pedestrians, she drove about a mile on a flat tire, parked and asked a hotel employee to call police, then surrendered, according to the police report.

Holloway told detectives that earlier on Sunday she had been trying to sleep inside her car, but became stressed when she kept getting run off by security guards.

Holloway’s cousin LaShay Hardaway told Las Vegas television station KSNV, “Our family is definitely praying for those victims.”

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Holloway may have stopped in Las Vegas en route to Texas, where her daughter’s father lives, Sheriff Lombardo said. The couple may have had a falling out but it was unclear what might have “caused her to snap,” he said.

The Skanner, a community website in the Pacific Northwest, reported that in 2012, Holloway received an award from a Portland career-mentoring nonprofit for being a role model for high school students. The Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center issued a statement confirming that Holloway had taken part in a program for the center.

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman said she had worked part-time for the agency from 2009 to 2012 while attending community college.

Holloway and her mother were homeless during her freshman year in high school, according to The Skanner report.

Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Additional reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Ore., and Angela Moon and Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Gareth Jones, Sara Catania, Toni Reinhold