The woman who mowed down pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night had been living out of her car for a week and refused to tell investigators why she did it, authorities said Monday.
Lakeisha Nicole Holloway, 24, had her 3-year-old daughter with her in her 1996 Oldsmobile as she veered onto the hotel-lined Vegas sidewalk, killing one person and injuring dozens of others. Her daughter wasn't hurt, police said.
Holloway was held without bond Monday in the Clark County Detention Center pending a formal bail hearing Tuesday morning, when she is likely to be charged with murder with a deadly weapon, child abuse/neglect and failing to stop at the scene of an accident, prosecutors said.
"We are going to do everything in our power to ensure that she remains in custody under the law," Clark County District Attorney Steven Wolfson said.
Las Vegas Deputy Police Chief Brett Zimmerman said the incident was "not an act of terrorism" but appeared to be deliberate. Clark County/Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said video from the scene showed that Holloway intentionally swerved back and forth from the street to the sidewalk.
"We don't know what caused her to snap and whether it was planned previously," Lombardo said.
Holloway told investigators that she hadn't been drinking or using drugs, but she said she was under extreme stress Sunday because security at various locations kept running her off as she tried to sleep in her car, according to an arrest report.
According to the report, she told investigators she somehow ended up on the Strip, "a place she did not want to be." She wouldn't say why she twice drove into crowds of pedestrians, but she did recall that her windshield was broken by a body bouncing off it, the report said.
Lombardo said other details also remain frustratingly elusive. Holloway is originally from Oregon, but authorities are "having difficulty obtaining her background," he said.
At least 35 people were injured in the crash, and three remained in critical condition Monday, Lombardo said. The person who was killed was identified as Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona.
"This is a tragic event, and hopefully it will never happen again in our community," Lombardo said.
Here's what NBC News has learned about Holloway:
- She was awarded an Education Credit Management Corp. scholarship in 2009. The ECMC Foundation said at the time that recipients were selected by educators in the sophomore year of high school to receive $4,000 through the scholarship fund.
In 2011, Holloway was convicted of two traffic offenses, according to Multnomah County, Oregon, records.
Less than a year later, an article in The Skanner, an Oregon news site, lauded Holloway for receiving a role model award from the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, which assists at-risk youth. The Skanner reported that Holloway had been homeless during her freshman year of high school but that with help from the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, she was pursuing a career in forest service. POIC said in a statement Monday that Holloway had “worked closely” with their youth employment staff, but hadn’t been involved with the organization for two years. “It’s hard to believe that Lakeisha did this, she was such a great kid while she was a part of our program,” said a POIC youth employment staff member who wasn’t identified in the statement.
LaShay Hardaway, Holloway's cousin, said Holloway's alleged involvement in the deadly incident was "shocking."
"It's not characteristic of Lakeisha. We think we have some understanding of what happened, but the place that we're at right now, we can't say," Hardaway told NBC News.
"She's not even confrontational," Hardaway added. "She's a loving mother. ... She's such a beautiful person. She's very successful."
Hardaway also expressed empathy for the victims. "Our family is hurting. The victims are hurting. We send our condolences and extend our hand to any prayer, any comfort we can give," she said.
In a separate interview with NBC station KGW of Portland, Oregon, Hardaway called her cousin "goofy and fun," completely unlike "this vigilante that they're trying to make her out to be."
Holloway has recently been "exhausted," Hardaway said. "What those other families are seeing is this villain that they're projecting on TV. What our family is seeing is this person that we know, which is, like, two different people."
The incident raised concerns about the ease with which huge numbers of tourists can be targeted in Las Vegas.
Clark County has spent $6 million in recent years to widen sidewalks and remove obstacles like news racks and light poles. But County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow said Monday that more barriers must be erected to protect pedestrians on the teeming sidewalks.
"There are ways to do barricades you can see through, but we don't want it to feel like a prison," Scow told NBC station KSNV.
This story has been corrected to identify Steven Wolfson as district attorney for Clark County, Nevada.