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, was charged with murder on Tuesday as investigators sought clues to what motivated the rampage.
Lakeisha N. Holloway, 24, who was arrested after the incident on Sunday, has been charged with one count of murder through use of a deadly weapon in the death of a 32-year-old Arizona woman who was in the crowd.
Holloway, due for her first court appearance on Wednesday, was being held in a “medically restricted” jail unit set aside for inmates requiring increased supervision, including those on suicide watch, according to Las Vegas police spokesman Michael Rodriguez.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he expected additional charges to be brought against Holloway as the investigation unfolds.
“This is a horrendous and inexcusable act that has needlessly and tragically impacted countless lives,” Wolfson said in a statement.
Authorities said Holloway had been living in her car in Las Vegas for about a week with her 3-year-old daughter and had been driving on a suspended Oregon license.
In addition to murder, she has been charged with child abuse or neglect, 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 the incident did not appear to be an attack motivated by extremist ideology. U.S. law enforcement agencies have been on heightened alert since this month’s massacre in San Bernardino, California.
Police said Holloway repeatedly drove her automobile onto the sidewalk, ramming pedestrians and street posts as bystanders pounded on the windows and tried to pull open her car door to stop her. According to a police report, she then drove about a mile away on a flat tire, parked and asked a hotel employee to call police before surrendering.
The incident occurred near Planet Hollywood, where the Miss Universe beauty pageant was being held. Three victims remained hospitalized in critical condition and two in serious condition, an area hospital said.
Holloway, who is being held without bail, told detectives she had been trying to sleep in her car earlier on Sunday but became stressed when she kept getting chased off by security guards, the police report said.
Holloway may have stopped in Las Vegas en route to Texas, where her daughter’s father lives, and the couple may have quarreled, Lombardo said, adding it was otherwise unclear what might have “caused her to snap.”
In 2012, Holloway received an award from an Oregon career-mentoring organization, the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, for being a role model to high school students.
In an online video posted three years ago by the group, Holloway described growing up with a mother who battled alcohol addiction and poverty, and how she was homeless during her first year in high school. She said she ultimately “beat the odds” to become the first member of her immediate family to graduate high school.
“Today, I am not the same scared girl I used to be. I am a mature young woman,” she said in the video. “Being homeless and on my own taught me how to stand on my own two feet.”
Holloway worked part-time for the U.S. Forest Service from 2009 to 2012 while attending community college, the agency said.
Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric M. Johnson; Additional reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Ore., and Angela Moon and Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Sara Catania, Toni Reinhold and Leslie Adler
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