Shots reportedly fired after Tyson-Holyfield fight

June 29, 1997

Shots reportedly fired after Tyson-Holyfield fight

By Robert Macy

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Thousands of people who believed they’d heard gunshots panicked late Saturday night, injuring 24 as they stampeded out of the MGM Grand Hotel following a heavyweight fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

One of the injured people suffered a heart attack, an ambulance company spokeswoman said. His condition was not immediately known.

Hours after the 10:30 p.m. incident, it still wasn’t clear whether there had been gunfire at the hotel. A hotel spokesman said breaking glass sparked the mayhem.

“A champange bottle was broken in the main lobby from an altercation or whatever,” said Jack Leone. “There was a pop, and people thought that was gunfire. People ran for the main entrance, they knocked over (barricades) outside the main door, and that added to the noise and confusion. There was no gunfire.”

The Nevada Highway Patrol and Las Vegas Metro Police Department said they had received reports of shots fired, but Las Vegas police said they could find no evidence of them.

“There was a large gathering of people at the lobby entrance to the hotel, and several small fights broke out,” said Metro Police Sgt. Will Minor. “There were reports of shots fired, but we can’t find anything to substantiate that – no shells, no people wounded, no indentations.”

Several people at the hotel after the fight told The Associated Press they were sure they’d heard gun shots.

Twenty-three people sustained minor injuries in the mini-riot, including one person struck by flying glass. In addition, one person had a heart attack.

“They were minor injuries, mostly from being trampled, people injured in the chaos, trying to get out of the way,” said Cathy Hayes, a spokeswoman Mercy Ambulance Service.

Metro Police sealed off a two-block-long strip of Tropicana Avenue to try and disperse the crowd. More than 200 police officers and hotel security guards worked to clear the jammed hotel lobby as people ran through hallways. Restaurants in the 5,000-room hotel shut their doors to keep unwanted people out.

The 16,000 fans who witnessed the fight in the MGM Grand Garden began exiting the hotel and into the parking lot, mingling with thousands of others who were in the Strip resort. Traffic was at a standstill.

The hotel was tense after the match because fans were “agitated” by its outcome, Minor said. The fight was stopped after the third round when Tyson twice bit Holyfield on his ears.

University Medical Center said it had received several patients after the incident, but none of their injuries were life-threatening.

–Last September, rapper Tupac Shakur was shot and wounded after watching the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon heavyweight championship fight at the MGM Grand.

After the Tyson-Seldon match Shakur went to the home of Death Row Records chairman Marion “Suge” Knight before returning to the Strip, where he was shot. Shakur died at a hospital a few days later.

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