Frantic 911 callers from UNLV reported seeing unfamiliar man in campus building

From beneath her desk, one caller quietly reported to an emergency dispatcher through heavy breaths and stifled sobs, “Someone’s shooting.”

Another caller, who’d locked himself in a nearby office, matter-of-factly described seeing an unfamiliar man just before half a dozen shots rang out on the fourth floor of Beam Hall on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus.

“I just saw a man who I don’t usually see on the fourth floor,” he told a dispatcher during a call that captured the sounds of apparent gunfire in the background.

More than two hours of audio recordings of the real-time 911 calls from UNLV students, employees and their loved ones captured the sheer panic of the moment as a shooting unfolded that left three people dead and another person wounded.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released the recordings Friday in response to a public records request from NBC News. Names of the callers were redacted from the recordings.

Officers responding to emergency calls from the campus confronted and shot the gunman, later identified as Anthony Polito, 67.

Polito, a former professor in North Carolina, had applied for a teaching job at UNLV in 2020, but wasn’t hired, officials said.

The three deceased victims all taught at the university. They were identified as Cha-Jan “Jerry” Chang, 64, a business professor; Patricia Navarro-Velez, 39, an assistant professor of accounting; and Naoko Takemaru, 69, an associate professor of Japanese studies.

Several of the recordings released Friday captured emergency calls placed from people taking cover on the fourth floor of Beam Hall in the Lee School of Business, where authorities said the shooting began before the gunman made his way to “multiple” other floors throughout the building.

In the earliest call, logged at 11:44 a.m., a man who described himself as a graduate assistant calmly described seeing a man whom he didn’t recognize in the hallways of the campus building just before hearing a half-dozen gunshots and screams.

“About six-four, heavy-set, white male,” he said. “I assume lighter hair, but not sure.”

“Do you know if anybody’s injured?” the dispatcher asked him.

“I would assume so, based off of the screams,” the caller said.

The caller reported that he and another person were hiding in a locked accounting office on the same floor. When the dispatcher asked him if he could blockade the office’s door, he responded: “I’m not going to make any noise because this office has many windows.”

In another call, logged less than 30 seconds later, a woman hiding in a different room on the same floor told a dispatcher that she also saw a man that she didn’t recognize in the hallway just after gunshots erupted.

“How long ago did you hear the shots happening,” the dispatcher asked.

“They’re happening right now,” the woman sobbed.

“How many shots have you heard?”

“Like, like five. I’m hiding under my desk. I closed my door, it’s locked.”

In another call at 11:45 a.m., a 37-year-old woman whispered that she was hiding in a break room while a group of several others were taking cover in the conference room next door. Midway through her conversation, a fire alarm sounded and it blared in the background for the remainder of the call.

Throughout the 911 calls, dispatchers attempted to keep panicking callers calm. They offered suggestions to blockade doors, if possible, and they assured them multiple officers were on their way to help. Several of the recordings included calls from people off campus who said they’d received urgent calls from loved ones hunkered down at the university.

One woman told a dispatcher her husband had phoned and directed her to “just call the police and let them know” that he and a group of others were hiding in Room 418 of the business school, just next to the elevators.

“They can hear the gunshots,” the woman said.

“OK, and does it sounds close?” a dispatcher asked.

“He didn’t tell me, he hung up quickly,” the woman said. “Can I give you his phone number and you can call him?”

“I’m not going to call him, because it could put him in danger,” the dispatcher said.

Another caller dialed 911 as he was running out of Beam Hall.

“I just stepped out of the elevator, I heard the shots fired and I heard screaming and I ran,” he said through heavy breaths.

During his six-minute call, the man told the dispatcher he had managed to run outside of the building just as arriving officers were running in.

“Do you still hear gunshots,” the dispatcher asked him.

“I don’t,” he said. “I’m just telling people outside to take cover in case the person comes out.”