Round 1 of the 2023 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is canceled for Dec. 7, 2023, after a gunman walked into two buildings on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus and killed three and critically injured at least one more.
The gunman is also dead, and no further threat to the community exists.
The $14.9 million NFR was set to begin Thursday, Dec. 7. The event is the largest hosted by the city each year, bringing 340,000 rodeo fans to Las Vegas over the 10 days of the Finals. The Thomas & Mack, in the heart of the UNLV Campus and just an eight-minute walk away from the location of the shooting, packs in north of 18,000 fans per night for a given NFR performance.
Wednesday, Dec. 6, the Thomas & Mack was swarmed with police tactical units, SWAT teams and snipers while the 120 NFR contestants, contractors and PRCA staff sat in lockdown inside the arena while they were supposed to be having grand entry practice.
“Today’s shooting on the UNLV campus was alarming and deeply troubling,” PRCA CEO Tom Glause said in a news release. “The PRCA is grateful for the rapid, professional response from law enforcement and first responders. Our thoughts right now are focused on the victims of this senseless act of violence.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Las Vegas’ Harry Reid Airport remained shut down given its proximity to the shooting and to allow police helicopters to fly above the scene. Police closed the I-15 freeway into Las Vegas, too.
“All of us are saddened by the events that occurred today,” LVE President Tim Keener said in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected. We are grateful to all of the first responders, police, security and the UNLV community for their actions today.”
Contestants were ushered out of the arena by armed officers via the tunnel in which ropers ride into the Thomas & Mack after having been held in lockdown from 11:46 a.m. to 1:26 p.m.
Wednesday night, police sat at the gate to the stall area, but contestants were permitted to get in and out to feed their horses on the grounds. UNLV is closed for the remainder of the week, though the PRCA and Las Vegas Events have yet to say how this will affect the rest of the rodeo.
Of note, because Day 2 of the National Finals Breakaway Roping was scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. at the South Point Arena—nearly a distance of 10 miles from the site of the shooting—the final performances were carried out and a World Champion—Shelby Boisjoli-Meged—was crowned.
Additional details will be announced on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 7.
The Cowboy Channel Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center, South and Central Halls, will continue as planned. It will open on Thursday, Dec. 7 and run through Saturday, Dec. 16. It is open to the public.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.