Accident – Death – Obituary News : The man behind the shooting spree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has been identified as 67-year-old Anthony Polito, a former professor in North Carolina. Polito, who spent over a decade teaching at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, had a reputation for being popular but eccentric, according to former students and a former graduate assistant.
Polito fatally shot three people and wounded a fourth at UNLV on Wednesday. He had applied for a teaching job at the university in 2020 but was not hired. Prior to the attack, Polito mailed letters to nearly two dozen university personnel throughout the country. The letters were sent without a return address and contained a white powder substance, later determined to be harmless.
During his time at ECU, Polito had a peculiar obsession with Las Vegas, which he often spoke about in his classes. Former students recalled that Polito would spend most of his class time discussing his experiences in Sin City, including the hotels, restaurants, clubs, and shopping places he visited. One former student, Paul Whittington, described Polito’s class as “reliving someone’s vacation.” Another student, Tressa Grottini, recalled that Polito gave pointers on when to visit Las Vegas and where to stay.
Polito’s unconventional teaching style and fixation on Las Vegas made him a memorable professor. However, some students felt uncomfortable with his behavior. One woman, who took Polito’s course online in 2012, said that their mentor-mentee relationship escalated into Polito pursuing her inappropriately. She felt preyed upon and eventually cut off contact with him.
Former graduate assistant T.J. Strickland described Polito as an eccentric but nice person who had peculiar ways of working. Polito was rigid about organization and his email system, and if tasks were not done perfectly, they had to be redone. Despite his strange personality, Strickland never expected Polito to commit a mass shooting.
Polito’s popularity among students was evident from his positive reviews on ratemyprofessors.com. He had a personal website where he compiled anonymous comments from student surveys, and he would often discuss these comments in class. Polito was fixated on negative feedback and would actively try to guess who had submitted it.
The motive for the shooting remains unclear, as does Polito’s life leading up to the incident. However, the accounts from former students and colleagues shed light on his peculiar behavior and obsession with Las Vegas. The shooting has left many shocked and questioning how someone they knew as a popular professor could commit such a horrific act..