In Las Vegas for trip, St. Paul police chief calls first response 'impressive'

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell was one of the thousands of people vacationing in Las Vegas Sunday night when a gunman opened fire at an outdoor concert down the Strip from where he was staying.

Axtell wasn’t at the concert; he was in town on an annual trip to reconnect with other current and retired law enforcement officers. They were staying at the Flamingo, less than a mile from Mandalay Bay.

Axtell said he was impressed with the quick response of law enforcement and other first responders to the shooting. 

“After the shooting, taking a look at the strip and seeing all of the emergency vehicles that were responding, the medical units and the officers from many different agencies it was really something as a police chief to watch,” Axtell said in a phone interview with Fox 9. “The response in action was really, really impressive and I’m so proud of the law enforcement officers down here on how they handled the situation.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, Axtell and one of his companions joined the crowds of people lining up to donate blood.

“It’s really encouraging when you see that level of participation from people who just want to do something,” Axtell said. “It really sends a strong message to everyone that an incident like this isn’t going to keep the city down.”

They got to the front of the line and were told to come back in a few hours. Axtell says he’ll be back around 6 p.m.

“It’s really the only thing we can do to contribute down here so we’re going to try to do that.”

At least one off-duty police officer was killed in Sunday night’s shooting, according to Las Vegas police. Axtell said it is a tragic reminder of the sacrifice public service workers make to protect their communities.

“Any time we have public servants out there protecting our community that lose their lives in the line of duty it’s just an unbelievable, painful thing for any public service worker in the country.” Axtell said. “They died doing what they had a calling for and it’s really a good time for our community to understand and take a moment to appreciate the men and women of law enforcement, dispatchers, medical services, fire, paramedics and whatnot, to make sure we thank all of those officers, people for what they do. Sometimes we take it for granted.”

Axtell said he is flying back to Minnesota on Tuesday morning.