WyBETT
                             Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
WyBETT   Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow
 
 Gambler Goes "Postal"

Jan. 15, 2001

Casino patron hurts 3, kills self
The Associated Press

BILOXI - An Alabama man who shot three people before killing himself at a busy Gulf Coast casino was apparently distraught over losing money to a slot machine, a casino employee said Sunday.

Sylvester McConnell, 48, of Mount Vernon, Ala., had been playing the $5 slot machines late Saturday night at Casino Magic Biloxi before he began shooting, said a casino employee. After shooting two women and one man, McConnell shot himself in the head.

"It was mass panic," said a woman from Georgia, who did not want to be identified, as she checked out of the casino's hotel Sunday morning.

Chris Harmon, 27, of Escatawpa and Tanya Cooper, 28, of Vancleave were listed in critical condition Sunday at Biloxi Regional Medial Center. Ut Pham, 44, of Pascagoula was in good condition at Ocean Springs Hospital.

Police said Harmon and Cooper had been on a date.
The casino employee, who also asked not to be identified, said McConnell had been in the casino before and was upset Saturday night after losing at the slot machines.

Capt. Steve Patterson of the Biloxi Police Department said two handguns were found at the scene, and AMR workers said another handgun was found on McConnell at the hospital. It was the first shooting inside a casino on the Mississippi Coast since the industry opened here in 1992.