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Las Vegas shaken by high-profile violence

LAS VEGAS — Variously known as an adult playground and Disneyland for grown-ups, Las Vegas brands itself as a spot where tourists can enjoy a sense of edginess with no real danger.

But a series of high-profile episodes of random violence amid throngs of tourists threatens Sin City’s reputation as a padded room of a town where people can cut loose with no fear of consequences.

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A car-to-car shooting and fiery crash that killed two bystanders and an aspiring rapper Thursday followed a bizarre elevator stabbing and a movie theater parking lot shooting.

Though crime has been falling on the glitzy stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that houses most of the city’s major casinos, tourism officials fear vacationers and convention planners could begin to steer clear of town because of a perception of mayhem.

‘‘We are concerned because it can create misperceptions about the safety of the city, the safety of the Strip,’’ said Gary Thompson, spokesman for Caesars Entertainment.

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Casinos are particularly worried about convention business, which helps fill rooms and gambling tables between weekends. Corporate planners can swing the market with a few decisions, said Gordon Absher, spokesman for MGM Resorts International.

‘‘And that decision will bring thousands of people,’’ he said. MGM operates several major casino-hotels, including CityCenter, where Thursday’s convulsion of violence originated.

Violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery, and assault, in the city’s main tourist hub fell 13 percent in 2012, from 256 to 223 incidents, and is down 11 percent for the first part of 2013, with 50 incidents reported. The number of rapes has fallen by more than a third.

But there have been two homicides off the Strip this year, in addition to the three deaths Thursday, compared with none in the area during the first month and a half of 2012.

The spate of violence started just before the new year, when a man shot and killed his former girlfriend, an Excalibur hotel-casino concierge clerk, before killing himself.

A nighttime shooting outside a Strip movie theater left two people critically wounded earlier this month. Last week, two men allegedly assaulted a visitor in the elevator at the Mandalay Bay property, tackling him and stabbing him in such a frenzy that they also stabbed each other.

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