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Franklin Police Detective, State PBA President, Caught Up In Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Franklin Township Police Det. Pat Colligan was at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Spa in Las Vegas Oct. 1 when a gunman killed 59 people and wounded 515.


Pat Colligan knew something was up when he saw a security guard and police officer in a traffic vest running full-speed through the crowded casino at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Spa in Las Vegas late in the evening of Oct. 1.

Colligan, a Franklin Township Police detective and president of the New Jersey Policeman’s Benevolent Association, had just finished dinner with some colleagues and was making his way to the elevators to get to his 29th floor room. They had been in Las Vegas since Sept. 28 for a yearly event involving the leadership of police unions from across the country.

“They were banging into people, and trying to get through the casino,” he said of the two runners. “We knew something was going on.”

When his group reached the elevator banks, Colligan said, they were told that the elevators had been shut down.

“We saw more police officers running in, and they were screaming, “32nd floor, 32nd floor,” Colligan said. “We saw they were carrying long guns, which you never see in a casino, and we really knew something was up.”

The cause of the intense police presence was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, who police say killed 59 people and wounded 527 after he sprayed hundreds of rounds of ammunition on attendees of a Jason Aldean country music concert from his hotel room on the hotel’s 32nd floor.

Picture taken from the hotel room of Pat Colligan; arrow shows the room from where Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded 515. Photo: Pat Colligan.

The reports say that Paddock killed himself in his hotel room before the Las Vegas Police Department’s SWAT team broke through his door.

Authorities said a cache of firearms was found in Paddock’s room, and there was speculation that he may have modified at least one rifle to turn it into an automatic weapon.

The shooting was going on when Colligan saw the officers running to the elevators, but at that point, Colligan said, he and his group did not know what was going on. He said they did not hear any of the shots being fired

Colligan and several others made their way to the rear of the casino and out into the parking deck where, he said, there were even more police officers.

“There were a lot of police cars and a lot of police officers with their guns drawn,” he said.

Colligan said he was able to connect with a union member who was staying in the adjacent Delano Hotel, which is where he eventually spent the night.

But he did not escape the scene inside the casino when authorities ordered it evacuated.

“It was controlled chaos,” he said. “Staff were yelling at the dealers to lock up and go to the break room.”

Looking down to the street from the room in the Delano, Colligan said, he saw “hundreds and hundreds of police cars. I never saw that many police cars.”

At that point the shooting was over, Paddock presumably dead, but the area was still on lockdown and Colligan could not get back into his hotel. Some members who stayed in Mandalay Bay were not cleared to leave until well after 4 a.m., Colligan said.

Colligan and his colleagues eventually were able to get back to their hotel rooms the morning of Oct. 2, he said. He had already packed the night before, so he just needed to wash up, change his shirt and he was out the door, although he did have to catch a later flight home.

Being a policeman, Colligan said, it was “odd” for him to be in the middle of a scene an not know what was going on.

“It was initially very odd to be a police officer and have no control,” he said. “We didn’t have any radios. We wanted to help, but there was nothing we could do.”

Colligan said that he and his colleagues had no intention to attend the concert.

“We were right above it, so we can hear it,” he said. “It’s there every year.”

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