UNLV Shooter Had a Strange Obsession With Las Vegas

Former students recall Anthony Polito talking of little else during lessons
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2023 7:33 AM CST
Alleged UNLV Shooter Was 'Obsessed' With Las Vegas
Police are stationed outside of an upstairs corner apartment, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Henderson, Nev., where the suspect in a fatal shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, lived.   (AP Photo/Ken Ritter)

The former East Carolina University professor who allegedly carried out a mass shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was "obsessed" with Sin City, former students say. Anthony Polito taught in ECU's marketing department from 2001 to 2017 but it doesn't appear that he spent much time teaching. A former student in Polito's "introduction to operations management" class in the spring of 2014 says the professor spent most of the semester talking about Las Vegas. "I think he went at the end of every semester, so at least twice a year," Paul Whittington, 33, tells NBC News. He says Polito would talk about the hotels, restaurants, clubs, and shopping venues he visited. "If you can imagine a college class where you just relive someone's vacation, like, that was kind of his class."

Tressa Grottini, 32, a student of Polito's in 2013, says he would "talk about going to Vegas all the time" and "would give us students, like, pointers on when to go, areas to stay, things like that." Another former student says Polito "preyed upon" her by offering to help her with her resume, then trying to contact her daily. She claims he bought her gifts before inviting her to Las Vegas at the end of the semester. Polito, 67, had applied for a teaching job at UNLV in 2020, but wasn't hired, per NBC. He worked as an adjunct professor at Roseman University in Henderson, Nevada, from 2018 to 2022, per CNN, but was denied jobs at other higher education institutions in the state numerous times.

The gun he used during the shooting, a Taurus PT92 pistol, was purchased 18 months ago in Las Vegas, per CNN. After Polito was killed in a shootout, police discovered a list of names of people "he was seeking" at UNLV and ECU, though none of those listed were shooting victims, per ABC News. Authorities also discovered an eviction notice on the door of Polito's apartment. Las Vegas Sheriff Kevin McMahill said he'd been "struggling financially" and left behind a document similar to a "last will and testament," per KLAS and CNN. He also left writings on his website, though it's unclear if any are new. Polito touted his status as a Mensa member (confirmed by KATU), claimed to have decoded parts of the Zodiac killer's letters, and said he was denied jobs at the CIA, NSA, and DIA, per KLAS. (More Las Vegas shooting stories.)

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