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Gunfire shatters the heart of Vegas; 3 dead, 6 injured

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 7:18 p.m.
 

LAS VEGAS — Bullets were flying from a black Range Rover at a gray Maserati as the vehicles raced toward a red light on the Las Vegas Strip.

Beneath the neon lights, police say, the Maserati ran a red light at one of the Strip's busiest intersections and smashed into a taxi that exploded into flames early on Thursday, killing the two people inside.

Three more cars and a utility truck a collided at a crossroads home to Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally's, leaving at least six people injured as the Range Rover sped off in the predawn darkness.

The Maserati driver was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The dramatic scene that more than one tourist compared to something out of a violent action movie set off a frantic search for the occupants of the Range Rover and marked the latest episode on the Strip since the beginning of the year.

Two people were critically wounded in a shooting at a parking garage on Feb. 6, and a tourist was stabbed on Saturday in an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.

Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie told reporters several hours later that the shooting was sparked by an argument in the valet area of the nearby Aria hotel-casino and that the violence at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road did not reflect the values of the residents or visitors to Las Vegas.

“What happened will not be tolerated,” Gillespie said. He promised the shooters would be “found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

On the Strip, the fiery rampage shocked tourists.

“This doesn't happen where we come from, not on this scale,” said Mark Thompson, who was visiting from Manchester, England, with his wife. “We get stabbings, and gang violence, but this is like something out of a movie. Like ‘Die Hard' or something.”

Police said they were contacting authorities in three neighboring states about the Range Rover Sport with dark tinted windows, distinctive black custom rims and paper dealer ads in place of license plates that fled the scene about 4:20 a.m.

In Southern California, the California Highway Patrol alerted officers in at least three counties to be on the lookout for the SUV.

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