Aussie strippers bring down Vegas gunman

YOUNG, fit and wearing a fireman’s shirt, the stranger backstage at Las Vegas’ Excalibur casino showroom was easily mistaken for one of the male strippers from the Thunder from Down Under troupe.

But, according to the Las Vegas Police Department arrest report, what nobody realised on Tuesday night as events unfolded was the stranger was armed with a handgun.

And not just any gun. A .44 calibre Magnum that Clint Eastwood made famous in his Dirty Harry films.

When one of the buffed, tanned members of the Australian stripping revue, Ryan Paki, began to watch the stranger, he noticed some of the show’s costumes and props had been gathered near the doors to their locker room.

“What are you doing?” the stranger, upset about being disturbed, allegedly said to Paki.

Soon, the stranger was surrounded by five of the burly dancers.

Police said the stranger pulled the Magnum out, put it to dancer Scott Berchtold’s head and yelled: “I got a gun, I’m gonna shoot.”

As the suspect pulled the trigger, one of the strippers shoved the gun away. It fired, the bullet hit a wall, the weapon fell to the ground and the Thunder from Down Under troupe piled on the shooter.

From the look of his bruised and battered face in his mug shot, he did not fare well.

The Down Under boys all escaped injury, although one complained of getting some debris in an eye when the shot hit the wall and threw dust particles in the air.

Police are yet to identify the shooter, aged in his 20s, because they believe the name he gave them was fake, but they charged him with attempted murder with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary with a deadly weapon.

“The suspect was transported to the University Medical Center trauma centre to be treated for injuries received in the physical altercation,” police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer told AAP.

While a little shaken, the lads, in what their website describes as “barely there costumes”, went back on stage and finished Tuesday night’s performance in front of screaming female fans.

Even the dancer with the debris in his eye completed the show.

Thunder From Down Under, dubbed as “Australia’s hottest export”, debuted in 1991 and has been one of the Las Vegas strip’s most popular acts, with up to 11 performances a week.


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