Unraveling the Enigma: Motive Eludes Police in UNLV Faculty Murder Case

A 67-year-old college professor, who had faced job rejections from various Nevada colleges and universities, loaded his waistband with magazines for a 9mm handgun before entering a University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) campus building and killing three faculty members, according to police.

Upon engaging in a shootout with law enforcement, the assailant, Anthony Polito, was discovered with nine loaded magazines for a legally purchased handgun, along with a list of targets at the school, though none of the victims were on that list. The incident transpired about 10 minutes after the initial reports of gunfire in Beam Hall, a business school building.

Despite the swift response by police, the motive for the attack remained unknown. The university remained closed on Friday, with plans to tentatively reopen for finals next week.

Polito, who arrived at UNLV in a 2007 Lexus, carried out the attack shortly after parking south of the business school. Although he had a target list, none of the listed faculty members became victims, leaving investigators perplexed about the motive behind the shootings.

The assailant, armed with more than 150 rounds of ammunition, was suspected of potentially targeting the student union adjacent to the business school. Polito had previously taught at East Carolina University and resigned as a tenured associate professor in 2017.

Before heading to the campus, Polito stopped at a post office in Henderson, mailing 22 letters containing harmless white powder to faculty members across the U.S. The police noted financial struggles, as evidenced by an eviction notice found at Polito’s residence.

Two of the victims were identified as business school professors Patricia Navarro-Velez and Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang. The third victim’s name was withheld pending notification of relatives. The incident, described as the most difficult day in the university’s history by UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield, shocked a city previously marked by the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history in 2017. Polito’s fixation on negative student reviews and regular trips to Las Vegas were highlighted by a former student at East Carolina University.