58 Dead as Gunman Opens Fire in Las Vegas
October 02, 2017
President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation to honor the victims of an attack on the annual Route 91 Harvest country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night.
The proclamation reads:
Our Nation is heartbroken. We mourn with all whose loved ones were murdered and injured in last night’s horrible tragedy in Las Vegas, Nevada. As we grieve, we pray that God may provide comfort and relief to all those suffering.
As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless act of violence perpetrated on October 1, 2017, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, October 6, 2017. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
A local man opened fire shortly after 1 a.m. EDT Monday, killing at least 58 and wounding more than 500 others, from a corner suite on the hotel’s 32nd floor. The death toll, which police emphasized was preliminary, would make the attack the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, eclipsing last year’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club. Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said those numbers are likely to go up as his officers complete their canvass of the entire scene.
Thousands of panicked people fled the scene, in some cases trampling one another as law enforcement officers scrambled to locate and stop the gunman. Shocked concert goers, some with blood on their clothes, wandered the streets after the attack.
More than 22,000 were in attendance for the headlining concert at the time of the shooting.
WEAPONS, AMMO FOUND IN HOME
Police identified the shooter as Stephen Paddock, 64, who lived in a home at a luxury retirement community in nearby Mesquite. Police there have executed a search warrant and continue to comb the home for clues as to his motivation for the attack.
Initial reports indicate many guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were found in the home.
Local KTNV-TV reported a police source told them Paddock had two “platforms” set up in his suite with many guns and hundreds of loaded magazines. Video footage suggests he was using fully automatic weapons, which are nearly impossible to obtain, even on the black market. Paddock also reportedly set up two cameras outside the suite’s door so he could see when police were preparing to enter the room.
Lombardo said police are now preparing to investigate a second property officials have just become aware of.
FAMILY SHOCKED BY NEWS
WFTV-TV in Orlando, Fla., has interviewed Paddock’s brother, Eric, who appeared to be shocked by the news. He said he learned of the incident when Las Vegas Metroplitan Police Department contacted him seeking information.
There’s nothing I can say. My brother did this. It’s like he shot us. I couldn’t be more dumbfounded
In a separate interview with Reuters, Eric Paddock added:
We have no idea. We’re horrified. We’re bewildered and our condolences go out to the victims. We have no idea in the world.
ISIS CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY
During a press conference Monday morning, Lombardo said Paddock is believed to have taken his own life before police entered his hotel suite. This further compounds the confusion over why the shooting took place.
In a statement released on the jihadi propaganda outlet Amaq News Agency, ISIS claimed reponsibility for the attack. Shortly after the attack, police identified the gunman as area resident and said they had no information yet about his motive. He has a very limited criminal record—Lombardo identified one minor “citation” that was handled “several years ago”—and is not believed to be connected to any terrorist group.
The Amaq statement, however, claims Paddock was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” who converted to Islam a few months ago. It provided no evidence whatsoever to support these claims, and it could be a possible attempt to piggyback off of the existing tragedy.
The FBI has said it is investigating the claims fully.
GIRLFRIEND NOT A SUSPECT
Police initially believed Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was staying in the room with him. After making contact with her, and interviewing her, however, they now believe she was outside the country the entire time and that Paddock had been using some of her forms of identification.
Without any known motive, police are eager to search him home in a retirement community in nearby Mesquite, but were taking a cautious approach in case the home might be boobytrapped. The surrounding area was being evacuated, as well. The house was “cleared” and investigators plan to spend the next several hours searching for clues as to why the shooting took place.
The Homeland Security Department said it has no specific credible threat anywhere else in the U.S.
‘JUST KEPT GOING ON’
Video taken of the attack showed panicked crowds fleeing as sustained rapid gunfire ripped through the area.
Steve Smith, a 45-year-old visitor from Phoenix, Arizona, who had flown in for the concert, said:
It sounded like fireworks. People were just dropping to the ground. It just kept going on. Probably 100 shots at a time. It would sound like it was reloading and then it would go again. People were shot and trying to get out. A lot of people were shot.
Mike McGarry, a 53-year-old financial adviser from Philadelphia, was at the concert when he heard hundreds of shots ring out. The back of his short bore footmarks from people who ran over him attempting to flee the scene:
It was crazy—I laid on top of the kids. They’re 20. I’m 53. I lived a good life.
The shooting broke out on the sold-out final night of the three-day music festival. Headliner Jason Aldean was performing at the time of the shooting:
Tonight has been beyond horrific. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.
The concert venue was in an outdoor area known as Las Vegas Village, across the Strip from the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor hotels.
Mandalay Bay issued the following statement on Twitter a short time after the shooting:
Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night’s tragic events.
The dead included one off-duty police officer, Lombardo said. Two on-duty officers were injured, including one who was in stable condition after surgery and one who sustained minor injuries, Lombardo said. The rampage was reminiscent of a mass shooting at a Paris rock concert in November 2015 that killed 89 people, part of a wave of coordinated attacks by Islamist militants that left 130 dead.