UNLV Mass Shooting Leaves 3 Dead, Decision is Made to Cancel National Finals Rodeo Round 1

The PRCA and LVE have yet to release an update about the remainder of the Finals.
Wenda Johnson barrel racing at NFR.
Wenda Johnson and MacGyver Moonflash at the 2022 NFR. Image by Ric Andersen/CBarC Photography.

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 injuring at least one more. 

The gunman is also dead, and no further threat to the community exists. The $14 million NFR was set to begin Dec. 1, the largest event 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, 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’s 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. The NFR contestants were in the arena due to an official event practice being held at the time of the incident.

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. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.