Suspect faces murder charges in Vegas crash involving Canadians

LAS VEGAS -- Two Canadians were in hospital Monday with critical head wounds after a 24-year-old woman drove her car into pedestrians outside a Las Vegas casino Sunday evening.

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Lakeisha Holloway was in custody after she appeared to deliberately hit people with her vehicle on a busy sidewalk, Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.

One person died and about 35 people were injured after Sunday evening's incident, which Lombardo does not believe was an act of terrorism.

Danita Cohen of the University Medical Centre of Southern Nevada told The Canadian Press that two of the three people in hospital with critical injuries are Canadian, while two other people have serious injuries.

Lombardo said those in critical condition suffered head wounds.

District attorney Steve Wolfson said Holloway will be charged with one count of murder with the use of a deadly weapon and that other charges will likely follow including multiple counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.

Initial reports indicated at least five Canadians were among the injured, with Cohen saying at least two of them were from Montreal.

One of the injured was 21-year-old Anthony Hamel, who is believed to be from Delson, near Montreal.

"Why? Why us? Why did this happen?" he told Las Vegas TV station KTNV. "Why did this girl run over the sidewalk and injure a lot of people? She won't be able to feel the pain that she gave to a lot of people."

He was released from hospital but his relatives had been more seriously injured.

Lombardo said Holloway is from around Portland, Ore., and had been living in her car in Las Vegas for about one week prior to the attack.

She was arrested a few blocks further away. Her three-year-old daughter was in the car but was not injured.

Lombardo said Holloway made statements to police about her motive but he added investigators are still collecting information on her background and trying to reach her relatives.

"We are not 100 per cent ruling out the possibility of terrorism," he said. "(Because) it's going to be hard for us to explain at face value (what happened). We are working very hard on that. But I don't believe it was an act of terrorism."

He said those injured included people from Quebec, Mexico and the United States.

Holloway "went up and off these streets, two or possibly three times," Lt. Dan McGrath said, striking people on a busy sidewalk outside the Paris and Planet Hollywood casino-hotels.

Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona, died in the crash, according to Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg. The suburban Phoenix woman was visiting Las Vegas with her husband, the coroner said.

Justin Cochrane, a visitor from Santa Barbara, Calif., said he was having dinner at a sidewalk restaurant outside the Paris hotel when he saw the car smashing into pedestrians.

"It was just massacring people," he said, adding that the car appeared to be going 50 and 65 km/h.

Cochrane said he couldn't understand why the car went into the crowd a second time.

"Why would it slow to go around and then accelerate again?" he said. "I thought, 'It's a crazy person."'

Cochrane said he saw children and adults injured on the ground as the car drove away.

The pedestrians were not in the road and were not at fault, police said.

Joel Ortega, 31, of Redlands, Calif., said he and his wife, Carla, were visiting for the weekend and found themselves blocked from walking on the sidewalk toward the Paris hotel. They could see police investigating about a block away from the crash.

"At first, I thought it was a movie shoot," he said. "I thought maybe we'd see someone famous."

With files from The Associated Press


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