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Vegas Violence: Too Much Sin in Sin City?

Even if your nickname is "Sin City," murder can be bad for business.

The killings of three people before dawn last week in a shooting and fiery crash on the Las Vegas Strip has some concerned that tourists may stay away.

Police have named Ammar Harris as a suspect in the shooting death of aspiring rapper Kenneth Cherry, apparently after a dispute broke out between the two at a valet area of the Aria Las Vegas, owned by MGM Resorts International.

After being shot, Cherry crashed his Maserati into a taxi, killing both the cab driver and his fare—a small businesswoman on her way to the airport. For 12 hours, the Strip was shut down during the investigation at one of its busiest intersections.

The killings have grabbed headlines, but they aren't the only violent crimes recently in Las Vegas. News reports detail a stabbing earlier this month in an elevator at Mandalay Bay, two people shot in a movie theater parking lot, and a series of bizarre events including a blackjack dealer who had razor blades in both of her hands.

The statistics, however, tell a different story. Local law enforcement officials and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said crime in Las Vegas fell 13 percent in 2012, and it is down another 11 percent year to date.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers investigate the site of what is being described as a gun battle between shooters in vehicles along the Las Vegas Strip.
Getty Images
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers investigate the site of what is being described as a gun battle between shooters in vehicles along the Las Vegas Strip.

"Recent incidents, while unfortunate, were isolated events," said the LVCVA in a statement. "Las Vegas is among the safest travel destinations in the world and utilizes the most advanced technology and training to maintain a secure environment."

The headlines are coming just as the number of visitors to Las Vegas is getting back up close to 40 million a year. Conventions and meetings in 2012 jumped nearly 14 percent.

Are people having second thoughts about traveling to Sin City? There's no sign of it yet. Conventions scheduled this week include 6,000 people expected for an IBM meeting, and another large convention is scheduled for the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards.

"I've heard back from our meetings and convention team, and they've seen not any impact yet," said Gary Thompson, a spokesman of Caesars Entertainment.

"Each of our resorts employs fully-trained, full-time, professional security departments and our extensive surveillance systems provide law enforcement with valuable assistance, often helping them close cases quickly," said Gordon Absher with MGM Resorts. "We continue to work closely with Metro on this investigation."

On Twitter, most tourists suggested the news wouldn't deter them. "I would go tomorrow no problem," tweeted @charlieO88. "Violence is everywhere anyway," added @Realityhrts. And from @MattSoleyn, "I'm hoping this recent crime drives down prices to fly / stay there."

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells

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