The driver of a stolen car who authorities say deliberately plowed into pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip, killing two and injuring a dozen others, will face charges of murder and attempted murder.
Witnesses said the driver, Stephen M. Ressa, 27, of Rialto, Calif., accelerated as he drove along the crowded casino sidewalk, Deputy Police Chief Greg McCurdy said.
One witness described it as “humans being mowed down like a lawnmower,” McCurdy said. “It appears he did this intentionally.”
Ressa was arrested Wednesday at the chaotic scene that stretched for yards under the marquee of the Bally’s hotel-casino. There was no record Thursday that Ressa had retained a lawyer.
The injured were strewn along the sidewalk and treated in the street by emergency workers as stunned tourists looked on. An off-duty Las Vegas police officer, Martin Wright, rushed from a nearby restaurant to help.
“All I saw was bodies on the sidewalk and in the bushes,” Wright said Thursday.
The victims, including 11 tourists, were walking in front of the Bally’s and Paris hotel-casinos when the car struck them, then crashed into a wall and came to a stop in a landscaped area in front of Bally’s.
Eight still hospitalized
Eight of the injured remained hospitalized Thursday, including two in serious condition, officials said. Gordon Kusayanagi, 52, of Hollister, Calif., died Wednesday; Mark Modaressi, 26, of Irvine, Calif., died Thursday.
Ressa also had been sought by his hometown police in a near-fatal assault Monday on his mother, who owned the car Ressa was driving in Las Vegas.
He was held Thursday without bail at the county jail and could face a court appearance as early as Monday.
During interviews with detectives, Ressa appeared lucid and correctly answered questions about his ability to determine right and wrong, McCurdy said. But Ressa’s statements were “bizarre in nature,” McCurdy said.
Results of alcohol and drug tests were pending.
Wanted for questioning in assault on mother
Rialto police Det. Sgt. Reinhard Burkholder said Ressa was wanted for questioning in the assault on his 54-year-old mother. He had not been charged in that case.
“He punched her numerous times in the face and choked her into unconsciousness and stood over her with a butcher knife,” Burkholder said.
Ressa may have been under the influence of methamphetamine, Burkholder said.
He was not being pursued by officers when he crashed in Las Vegas, police said.