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Three people were killed during a shootout on the Las Vegas Strip early Thursday morning after occupants of a Maserati and an SUV exchanged gunfire, which resulted in a five-car crash and the explosion of a taxi cab.

The firefight was precluded by a dispute at a Las Vegas hotel, but police were what caused the altercation.


β€œIt began with a dispute at a nearby hotel and spilled on to the streets,”  said Capt. Chris Jones, from the Las Vegas Robbery Homicide Division, according to the Los Angeles Times.  

The drivers of the Maserati and the taxi were killed along with a passenger in the cab, while the SUV fled the scene by the time Las Vegas Metro Police arrived at the incident, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities in three different states were notified to be on the lookout for an inconspicuous, black Range Rover with custom rims believed to be involved in the shootout. The vehicle had also had paper license plates.

A report from Las Vegas news station KLAS indicated only the driver of the SUV opened fire.

The gunfire erupted near Bally's Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard near Flamingo Road on the Las Vegas Strip, leading to partial closures on the iconic thoroughfare, according to KLAS. The Bellagio, Caesars Palace and the Paris hotels are nearby.

Sgt. John Sheahan told the AP that people in the Maserati and the SUV engaged in a shootout, with the taxi cab taking gunfire during the incident. The shootout led to a five-car accident. The SUV was nowhere to be found when police arrived on the scene.

Police were looking for the SUV, described as a black Range Rover with tinted windows. 

A tourist who witnessed the firefight and explosion described the incident for KLAS.

"There was a loud bang and I hear two other booms. I looked out my window at Caesars Palace ... and could see a fireball," they said.

A Maserati passenger and four others were taken to University Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Danita Cohen told the news wire service. Three victims were treated and released while the fourth was still in the hospital as of Thursday morning, the AP reported.

The Las Vegas Strip has been no stranger to violence over the last month since the shooting. Another shooting at a parking garage on Feb. 6 left two people critically wounded. On Feb. 16, a tourist was stabbed inside an elevator at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay.