Friday, February 2, 2018

#LasVegasShooting Reconnaissance: The Tropicana

First, a personal note: I apologize for disappearing again; I was back in the hospital. The good news is, I now know what is wrong with me! (OK, so maybe not mentally, but....) No, seriously. I have suddenly taken to falling on a regular basis, and I was beginning to imagine fun things like brain tumors. Thankfully, it is nothing so serious. I have a fractured L-2, which will heal on its own. I just have to figure out how to keep from falling anymore while I get well.

And, when I am done, find out which local lawyer wants 33% of my lawsuit against Boulder City, where I fell and injured myself in the first place, and who refused to run the one simple test they ran at the hospital I am in currently that would have diagnosed my problem!

So, I just wanted to mention that in case I disappear again. Please do not worry if that happens before February first. However, once I get back to The Strip, that is another subject entirely.

Meanwhile, I never had a chance to write up what I did on my first trip. I sent a couple of messages to people, but I never actually wrote it up in my blog! So, yes, when I first got here I headed straight for the crime scene and did some good, old-fashioned, reconnaissance. Realizing the story we were told was a bunch of hooey, my approach to the area was far different than the one used by most reporters who hit the scene before the smoke even cleared.

Before I did anything, I headed straight for the Tropicana, laptop-in-hand. Having never been there before, I wanted to re-trace Mohammad bin Salman's steps that night. The online speculation was so insane I thought I would lay it to rest once-and-for-all. I froze the infamous video of his extraction at a spot with plenty of “land marks”, got my bearings, and then walked the route. All of my questions were answered pretty much immediately.

For people who have never been inside this particular casino, the gambling floor is surprisingly small, at least to me. Following is the extraction video for everyone's easy reference. As you watch it, picture yourself at the front of the casino looking toward the rear:

The Crown Prince is walking to the front of the Tropicana from what can accurately be described as a cubbyhole-sized area in back. If readers were to start at the beginning of this video and work backwards from it, MBS (Mohammad bin Salman) had just passed a snack bar and Starbucks to his right. He most likely entered the area from one of several stairways/employee doors; the only other thing behind him (from the angle on the video) is a public elevator and a set of glass doors that go out onto an enclosed Wedding garden. This “garden” has a couple of small, man-made waterfalls, and is enclosed by a wrought-iron fence with no visible entrance/exit gate other than through the Tropicana itself.

Of far more interest is the number of external exits that cover the perimeter of the casino. The largest and most logical rear exit is the “Team Entrance” which, for those who are unfamiliar with the Tropicana, exits directly into the line-of-sight of...The Mandalay Bay. What I am about to outline is a back-up plan for what Mike Closer outlined in his Periscope. For my civilian readers, I was given an invaluable tip many years ago from a career Army counter-intelligence operative. Anytime you want to sabotage something (assassinate someone; same idea), you do not just plant one explosive and hope for the best. You always set several so that, despite one-or-more-failures, the plan still goes through. So, while the idea of setting up the Crown Prince at the Four Seasons is one possible scenario (certainly the easiest), we must explore others as there had to have been a minimum of one fall-back position. 

I was extremely impressed with the Crown Prince's extraction. Right through the front. Everyone in the casino under control. Hard to do. But, when you go to the Tropicana, you see just how ingenious it was. The video ends with everyone disappearing behind a pillar. If you were present in the casino, you would know they were headed straight for the front desk. There are a couple of stairs that lead to the reservation “pit”, and then, if you go through the employee door, there are five unmarked exits from that area. Again, ingenious. I am still trying to figure out their route to McCarren; there are about a dozen but, from a security standpoint, I am not sure which one they picked.

Now, can the Las Vegas Sheriff's Department and the freaking FBI Las Vegas stop jacking with us, and tell us what we already know?!