LAS VEGAS — The unprovoked knife attacks on the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday began with four performers dressed as showgirls.
It was just before 11:40 am local time when they were approached by a man claiming to be a chef outside the Wynn Casino, where the performers were taking pictures with tourists.
The man wanted a photo with them, too. But when he pulled out a 12-inch kitchen knife, the performers began to back away.
within minutes, eight people would be wounded—two of them fatally.
The injuries affected in that brief window ranged from stab wounds to the chest and back to puncture wounds to the liver and diaphragm. The victims were both locals and tourists, authorities say.
Those new details were laid out in a three-page arrest report by police that roughly outlines how the mass stabbing unfolded on the northern end of the Strip almost five years to the day after the October 2017 mass shooting on the opposite end of the famed tourism corridor.
Police identified the suspect in Thursday’s stabbing spree as 32-year-old Yoni Barrios, who faces two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder.
On Friday afternoon, a judge ordered Barrios held without bail at a downtown Las Vegas jail until he is arraigned on the charges next week, at which point another judge could reconsider setting bail for the suspect.
Victim remembered as ‘devoted wife’
among the first victims stabbed, according to the report, was performer Maris DiGiovanni, who went by the name Maris Jordan. She did not survive her injuries.
Trauma surgeon Dr. Kevin Kuruvilla pronounced her dead shortly after she arrived at University Medical Center. She was 30.
“Maris loved the beauty of life and lived it to the fullest without limitations,” her brother, Gage DiGiovanni, told the USA TODAY Network on Friday. “She was an authentic and caring friend, a devoted wife, a kickass sister and a loving daughter.”
DiGiovanni said his sister wasn’t a dancer but worked on the Strip, where she gave tourists directions and posed for pictures.
After the initial attack on the performers, according to the report, the suspect ran down a sidewalk on the west side of the Wynn, where he encountered 47-year-old Brent Hallet.
Hallet, also a Las Vegas resident, was stabbed in the back. He died on the sidewalk outside the Wynn, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.
Minutes after tossing the knife in some nearby bushes, the suspect was taken into custody by security guards in the area. Police later recovered the knife.
‘He has a knife!’: Survivors recount shock as stabbings unfolded
Authorities have not identified the surviving victims. As of Friday morning, one patient remained in critical condition, another was in fair condition and two patients had been discharged from the hospital, according to a spokesperson at the University Medical Center, Nevada’s only Level 1 trauma center.
“I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me,” said Victoria Caytano, one of the showgirl impersonators who was released from a hospital Friday after she was treated for a stab wound.
“I got up, and I started running,” Caytano told KLAS-TV. “I started yelling, ‘he has a knife!’”
Anna Westby, who suffered a punctured lung, said she and Caytano were with DiGiovanni when Barrios attacked them.
“I’m screaming, asking everyone for help,” she told KLAS-TV. “He caught up to me, and he stabbed me in the back and then he ran off.”
Suspect thought showgirls were ‘laughing’ at him, authorities say
Dressed in blue jail garb and shackled at the wrists, Barrios faced a judge Friday afternoon for the first time since his arrest. His hands were covered with large orange mittens.
Barrios did not speak during the roughly minute-long hearing. A public defender who could comment on his behalf was not listed in court records Friday.
After the hearing, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told reporters that he would give “serious consideration” to pursuing the death penalty in the case. He said his office would make a decision within 30 to 60 days.
Barrios’ arrest report indicates he is originally from Guatemala, but, he told detectives in an interview after his arrest, he arrived in Las Vegas from California two days before the stabbings.
He said he had plans to move in with a friend in Las Vegas, but when he arrived at his friend’s home, Barrios was told he could no longer stay there.
On the day of the stabbings, Barrios said he left his friend’s home early in the morning and took a bus to the Strip, arriving there around 8 am
When he encountered the performers dressed as showgirls outside the Wynn later that morning, he became angry because he “thought the women were laughing at him and making fun of his clothing” and he “let the anger out.”
In that same interview with detectives, according to the report, Barrios confirmed the knife found in the bushes was the weapon used in the attacks.
Contributing: The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism