Craig Eiland, a Galveston attorney and former state representative, watched news coverage of the Oct. 1 mass shooting that left at least 59 victims dead and 527 injured on the Las Vegas Strip with a particularly personal interest.
Eiland's co-counsel's family friend, Rachel Sheppard, was among victims of the mass shooting, one of the deadliest in modern U.S. history. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, hit Sheppard with three rounds, one in the torso, another in the upper chest and one in the abdomen.
“They called me right after the shooting, not as a lawyer, but as a family friend, saying Rachel had been shot and was in critical condition and to keep her in our prayers,” Eiland said.
Sheppard survived the shooting but is still in critical condition.
Paddock, 64, rained bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on concertgoers attending a country music festival below. Eiland went to the site this week.
“So many people were shot and so many were killed,” Eiland said. “Seeing it on Tuesday was a sobering and somber experience when you realize this is where a client was shot.”
While Sheppard was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, Eiland went to work as an attorney for her, and later for about 60 victims, he said.
Eiland, along with several Nevada-based attorneys, filed the second Las Vegas shooting-related lawsuit Oct. 13 on behalf of Sheppard.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Clark County District Court in Nevada, lists MGM Resorts International, Mandalay Corp., Live Nation Entertainment, Live Nation Group doing business as One Nation Group, Paddock and Slide Fire Solutions, among others, as defendants.
“We filed against MGM Grand and the Mandalay Bay Hotel because of negligent behavior,” Eiland said. “And we filed against Live Nation, the concert venue, because after Paddock started shooting, the concertgoers couldn’t get out. There was one exit total. The rest were blocked. They were actually trapped while he was up there shooting.”
Paddock arrived five days before the event with nine bags containing at least 27 rifles, but somehow no one took notice of it, Eiland said.
Using power tools to set up a tripod and cameras to view people in the hallways, Paddock had the perfect vantage point to begin his shooting spree, Eiland asserts.
“Allegedly, there was a Do Not Disturb sign on the door, so no one went in,” Eiland said. “If that’s true, that’s negligence. If they did go in and saw all the weapons, who did they tell and what did they do? How does one use power tools in the hallway and in the room to set up a shooting gallery and no one says anything?”
Slide Manufacturers makes bump stocks, which increase weapons’ rate of fire.
“Our litigation is just beginning and we won’t be getting our discovery back until closer to the end of the year,” Eiland said.
Eiland also filed a successful temporary restraining order in that case, preventing the defendants from destroying information, evidence and data related to the shooting.
“The FBI and law enforcement are looking for evidence of criminal actions by the shooter,” Eiland said. “We are looking at how he went five days without anyone investigating.”
Following the successful temporary restraining order, Eiland was one of the first people to visit the scene of the shooting, which he described as a sobering experience.
“In talking to clients, we knew exactly where they were standing,” Eiland said. “You could go and see where the FBI and forensic experts had taken bullet holes out of the ground and covered up the blood. It was a somber experience realizing this is exactly where the client was shot.”