The woman who is accused of intentionally slamming her car into pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday evening has told police officials that she was under stress because security guards chased her out of parking lots where she was trying to sleep in her car with her 3-year-old daughter in the backseat. The 24-year-old, identified as Lakeisha N. Holloway, hit people on the busy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, killing one person and injuring at least 35 others.
Holloway arrived in Las Vegas about a week back from Portland, Oregon, in her 1996 Oldsmobile sedan and had been parking it at different garages in the city, said Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, according to the Associated Press (AP). Investigators believe that she was headed to Dallas to find the father of her daughter after they had a falling out. Investigators also said that she was short of money.
Despite a drug recognition expert at the scene saying that she was under the influence of some stimulant, there was no evidence to prove that, and Holloway also denied the allegation. Her cousin LaShay Hardaway told local newspaper Oregonian that Holloway could have slept behind the wheel as she worked a lot to provide for her daughter, and slept very little. Hardaway also said that Holloway did not consume alcohol or take drugs.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement Monday that Holloway faces charges of murder with a deadly weapon, child abuse or neglect, a felony, and leaving the scene of an accident, another felony. She is currently being held without bail and has been placed under suicide watch.
According to the police report, Holloway "described a stressful period today where she was trying to rest/sleep inside her vehicle with her daughter but kept getting run off by security of the properties she stopped at."
"She ended up on the Strip, 'a place she did not want to be,'" the report quoted Holloway as saying. "She would not explain why she drove onto the sidewalk but remembered a body bouncing off her windshield, breaking it."
After the crash, Holloway reportedly parked at a garage and told a security guard there that she had run down people and asked him to call 911. Her daughter, who was unhurt, is currently in protective custody. Lombardo said that Holloway was stoic when the police arrived, she didn’t resist arrest and was coherent in explaining the incident.
"She didn't appear to be distressed due to her actions. That's the best way I can describe it," Lombardo reportedly said, refusing to divulge what she said. He also said that while Holloway was driving, people jumped on the car and banged on the windows, but she did not stop.
Justin Cochrane of Santa Barbara, California, who witnessed the incident, reportedly said that the car was driving at a speed of up to 40 miles an hour when it hit pedestrians. He added that he could not understand why the driver went into the crowd a second time after slowing down.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said that he expected "a great number" of additional charges against Holloway. "When a person drives a 2,000-pound-plus motor vehicle intentionally onto a sidewalk, killing and injuring scores of people, that's murder," Wolfson said, according to the AP.
The accident happened outside Paris Hotel & Casino and Planet Hollywood, while the latter was hosting the Miss Universe pageant.
Holloway was also reportedly driving with a suspended license. "Her license was suspended by the Oregon DMV in 2012 and was also suspended by [Portland's] Multnomah County in 2013 and has not been reinstated," said Oregon Department of Transportation spokeswoman Sally Ridenour, according to Reuters.
Authorities are currently struggling to piece together Holloway's past. Court records reportedly showed that she had changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton in October.