Fireworks, Theft and a Genius Distraction: A Deep Look Into the MGM Robbery

07 Mar

Patrons of Maryland’s MGM National Harbour Casino were left ducking for cover last week when a cluster of fireworks were set off near to the entrance. The noise sounded close enough to gunfire to get everyone rushing to safety and apparently without much thought about their chips.

Was this a simple distraction ploy to scavenge casino chips while the rightful owner was only thinking about their personal safety?


Police haven’t officially confirmed the relationship between the two incidents, but due to the number of missing chips it is at least now thought to be a serious possibility. Given the kind of panic a suspected active shooter can spread, it is also possible that the thefts were purely opportunistic.

Malik Aziz, Prince George’s County Police Chief, spoke to WTOP News: 

“I don’t want to go that far to say it was coordinated, because this could have been a series of events that some opportunist decided to take advantage of, or it very well could have been the same people who triggered the fire alarm, who set off some fireworks, and then subsequently made some thefts.”

There was chaos at MGM National Harbor for several minutes late Saturday, as patrons fled what we we thought was an active shooter. Fortunately, someone had only set off fireworks inside the building. But MGM could & should have handled things better.

— Tony Perkins (@TonyPerkinsFMTV) February 28, 2022

The casino has taken a lot of flak for failing to communicate with patrons during the fracas, with some calling the situation chaos. Conflicting information was also given out, indicating that staff were not sure of what was happening themselves.

Margaret Moore Kellett, a former reporter, called the evening “one of the most harrowing” of her lifetime.

“All of a sudden, we saw people running. An enormous crowd of people running towards the door. Another couple was standing there and we understood that it was a bomb threat and an active shooter.”

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