UNLV shooter had list of targets, sent envelopes with white powder to educators across the country: police

UNLV shooter had list of targets, sent envelopes with white powder to educators across the country: police

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Tony Polito, the gunman in Wednesday’s shooting on UNLV’s campus, had a list of people he was targeting and he sent envelopes filled with a “white powdery substance” to other educators, police said Thursday.

Polito, 67, applied “numerous” times for jobs at several Nevada System Higher Education institutions and was denied, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Kevin McMahill said in a media conference Thursday.

Anthony Polito (LVMPD)

Earlier on Thursday, information was uncovered that Polito had a website where he posted his own “theories” on “various mysteries and puzzles,” including the Zodiac killer case, which he claimed to have solved.

Police believe Polito was working alone.

The timeline

According to McMahill, Polito arrived on campus at 11:28 a.m. in a 2007 Lexus vehicle, parking in a lot south of the Beam Hall. Polito entered the hall at 11:33 a.m., and shots were first reported at 11:45.

UNLV and LVMPD police arrived and heard shooting from inside Beam Hall and went inside “immediately and without hesitation,” McMahill said.

At 11:55, Polito exited the building where two UNLV officers confronted him, leading to a shootout. UNLV officers shot Polito multiple times, and he was pronounced dead on the scene.

On Thursday, McMahill said Polito was armed with a handgun and brought 11 magazines of ammo with him, 9 of which were found on him. The gun Polito used was bought legally in 2022.

Police said they do not know at the time of publication how many rounds Polito fired.

The victims

All three of the victims who were killed were found inside the building, and all were faculty members.

Two of the three people killed in the shooting on UNLV’s campus Wednesday were identified by the Clark County coroner’s office.

The victims are Professor Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang, 64, of Henderson, Nevada, and Assistant Professor Patricia Navarro-Velez, 39, of Las Vegas.

  • Photo of ChaJan "Jerry" Chang provided by UNLV

The third victim, also a UNLV faculty member, has been identified but a name has not been released. The coroner’s office is working to identify the legal next of kin.

According to McMahill, the fourth victim is a 38-year-old man who was taken to a local hospital by police shortly after the shooting. His condition was downgraded from stable to life-threatening.

The fourth victim was a visiting professor.

Police said two of the victims were found on the third floor and the third victim was found on the fourth floor.

“This is a day that we are not going to forget,” UNLV President Keith Whitfield said in Thursday’s briefing. “It is a day that’s marked in our history from now on.”  

The letters

Police found a dashcam in Polito’s vehicle, and using that camera, they were able to determine that Polito went to a Henderson post office before the shooting.

At the post office, Polito sent 22 letters to University personnel across the country with no return address on any of the envelopes.

During a screening of some of the intercepted envelopes, police discovered the first letter opened had an “unknown white powder substance” in it.

Police contacted the recipients of the letter, McMahill said.

Sheriff McMahill is encouraging anyone in the education world who receives a letter with no return address should contact their local authorities, especially those at East Carolina University or UNLV.

The suspect’s home

After the shooting, Metro officers went to Polito’s apartment, where they found more evidence.

According to McMahill, police found a chair with an arrow on it that pointed down to a document, which McMahill said was “similar to a last will and testament.”

Police also found several computers and hard drives, as well as ammo that matched the cartridge cases found at the scene.

McMahill said Polito had a “list” of people he targeted on campus. None of the victims who were killed were on that list. Also on that list were faculty members at East Carolina University.

Sheriff McMahill said Polito was “struggling financially” and an eviction notice was found on his door.

According to Sheriff McMahill, Polito also had a previous history of computer trespassing in Virginia in 1992.

Anyone with information or video inside Beam Hall or who witnessed the shooting between the officers and the suspect should call detectives at (702) 828-3521 or Crimestoppers at (702) 385-5555.

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