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After Leading Response to Vegas Massacre, He's Maui's Police Chief

John Pelletier referenced the 2017 tragedy while discussing wildfire victims
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2023 1:30 AM CDT
Updated Aug 16, 2023 6:01 AM CDT
Maui's Police Chief Was on the Ground at Vegas Massacre
In this image taken from video, Maui Chief of Police John Pelletier speaks at a briefing, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Wailuku, Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

The death toll in Maui's devastating wildfires climbed to 106 on Tuesday, Maui County officials told CNN, warning that it could end up significantly higher considering only about a third of the search area has been combed so far. And the police chief dealing with the fallout is no stranger to devastation: Before he was named Maui police chief in 2021, John Pelletier was with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for 22 years and had risen to the rank of captain, USA Today reports. During his time there, he was on the ground responding to the 2017 massacre on the Las Vegas Strip, during which 58 people were fatally shot at a country music festival.

"Give us a little bit of time," Pelletier said at a news conference over the weekend in reference to the patience that is needed as the public waits for names of victims to be released. "We've got to go make 89 notifications. And coming from a place that had to make 58, I understand the pain this is going to take, and we're not done with 89." He had also referenced the Vegas massacre when he applied for the Maui job, saying that leading the area command that covered the Strip that night was his greatest professional achievement. "We took the biggest crime scene, second only to 9/11, and we did everything to mitigate that," he said in 2021. "We brought a community together." (More Maui stories.)

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