Chips Stolen At MGM National Harbor as Thieves Cause Panic With Fireworks Diversion, Police Reveal

  • Suspects set off fireworks in MGM National Harbor, sparking a mass exodus of casino patrons
  • Newsman Tony Perkins was there and cited patrons as saying there was a “shooter”
  • The news anchor condemned MGM for not informing the panicked patrons of what was happening
  • An ex-reporter also present suggested the incident should get looked into “seriously”
MGM National Harbor at night
Casino-vicinity crime hit MGM National Harbor yet again after police declared a fireworks-mistaken-for-gunfire incident to be a crime gang’s smokescreen for a casino chip robbery. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Multiple suspects steal chips

Prince George’s County Police in Washington, D.C., have said the fireworks set off inside MGM National Harbor Casino over the weekend were apparently a diversionary ploy that allowed multiple suspects to steal casino chips, MSN.com reports.

sparking a mass exodus of MGM National Harbor patrons

Law enforcement officials confirmed that on Saturday, a series of fireworks went off either in the lobby or the entrance to the casino, sparking a mass exodus of MGM National Harbor patrons.

Co-anchor of Get Up DC, Tony Perkins, shared news of the incident via Twitter, saying patrons initially thought it was gunfire, with several saying “shooter” or “sounds like a shooter.”

Perkins said he was at MGM National Harbor at the time with his wife and friends, and described the scene as “chaos, with very little or conflicting information given to patrons.”

According to media reports, while police confirmed fireworks and theft of casino chips, it wasn’t yet clear how much thieves had stolen. Prince George’s Police said that although there were multiple suspects, no descriptions and no surveillance footage was available publicly. There were no reported injuries, and the investigation is ongoing.

MGM under fire

Perkins raked MGM National Harbor over the coals for their handling of the situation, saying it was “a sad reflection of our culture that when someone yells shooter, we all know how to react.”

On his Get Up DC show on Monday, Perkins stated that MGM made no announcements over the public address system during the incident, or until 20 minutes after it. The newsman explained the only reason he knew it was fireworks and not an active shooting was because he asked a police officer.

Adding to the confusion, Perkins said, was an MGM staff member who allegedly told his friends there was a fire. While many were rushing to escape the casino, Perkins added, some patrons were still coming in, not aware of what had taken place.

should “do much better in the future, or they’ll have a real tragedy on their hands.”

Perkins said the lack of communication was a “poor reflection” on MGM National Harbor. Even more damningly, Perkins warned that it was apparent MGM National Harbor was not ready for an active shooter situation, and they should “do much better in the future, or they’ll have a real tragedy on their hands.”

Mass panic

WTOP cited a former newsperson visiting the casino who also witnessed the scenes. Margaret Moore Kellett told the news channel that Saturday was “one of the most harrowing” nights of her life.

very little information was forthcoming from casino staff

“All of a sudden, we saw […] an enormous crowd of people running towards the door,” Moore Kellett told WTOP. She also backed up Perkins comments, saying very little information was forthcoming from casino staff.

“Another couple was standing there and we understood that it was a bomb threat and an active shooter,” the ex-reporter said.

According to WTOP, the security team at MGM National Harbor has declined to comment. The casino’s public information officers, communications staff, and hotel management, WTOP stated, answered some of its calls with no comment, with most calls simply cut off after getting transferred.

WTOP also cited online commenters describing an active shooter and loud gunshots in the casino, saying that they should “grab some chips” on the way out.

Moore Kellett is also concerned about MGM National Harbor’s security protocols. “I would look into this seriously,” she said. “I know that in the past they had had some shooters, and I did not know about this previously.”

In March 2020, police confirmed that during a $42,000 armed robbery of two of MGM National Harbor Casino patrons in December 2019, one victim got shot.

Media sources said Prince George’s County police department and fire department have said that more information on the incident will be made available Monday. While not confirming any details as yet, MGM National Harbor has said it’s working closely with police in their investigation.