A plethora of bullets rained down on 22,000 country music festivalgoers during the “Route 91 Harvest Festival” in Las Vegas, Nevada, leaving at least 59 people dead and 527 injured. The Sunday night attack will be remember as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The White male gunman, identified as 64-year-old retiree Stephen Craig Paddock, used a hammer-like tool to smash out the windows in his hotel room located on the 32nd floor of the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Concert goers fled, hid under cars, and ducked behind concession stands while Paddock opened fire for over 10 minutes.
During the chaos, SWAT teams used explosives to enter the gunman’s hotel room where they found he had taken his own life. Aside from discovering Paddock’s body, authorities found 23 guns, some with scopes, in his hotel room, and two gun stocks, which allowed the shooter to replicate fully automatic fire.
In Paddock’s home, authorities found 19 guns, explosives, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Additionally, several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be turned into explosives, were found in his vehicle.
FBI agent, Aaron Rouse, who handles the Las Vegas division, stated that investigators saw no immediate evidence connecting the attack to an act of terrorism.
According to NBC News, “[Eric Paddock], the brother of the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, was stunned to learn that one of his relatives had committed such a heinous crime. Paddock, who lives in Orlando, said his brother [the Las Vegas gunman] had retired to Mesquite, Nevada and spent his time at the hotels, going to shows and gambling.”
President Donald Trump described the attack as “an act of pure evil” and stated that he would visit the city.
“In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness,” he said. “The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope. My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
Recently, political figures and celebrities took to social media and other platforms to discuss the mass shooting.
“This kind of tragedy has become too routine in America. As a nation, we are weary. We’ve lost far too many of our classmates, friends, family members, and children to gun violence,” said Senator Kamala Harris. “That’s why as we pray for those recovering; we also must commit ourselves to action. Another moment of silence won’t suffice. Ninety Americans are killed, on average, every day by guns. We cannot simply throw up our hands or continue to justify the presence of weapons of war whose primary purpose is to kill the largest number of human beings in the shortest amount of time possible. We must honestly acknowledge the epidemic of gun violence and work together, now, to curb it.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters called the attack “senseless violence”, stating her thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
“There are so many questions surrounding this latest mass shooting, which now has the unfortunate distinction of being the deadliest in modern U.S. history, surpassing the devastating Sandy Hook, Mother Emanuel Church, and Pulse Nightclub massacres,” said Waters. “We are still learning more facts about this shooter and his motivations; however, we cannot ignore how deeply disturbing it is to learn that an individual with an apparent capacity for extreme violence was able to gain access to a large number of deadly weapons. When will our society gain the strength and courage to finally face up to the constant threat and danger of guns?”
Many of the people who attended the concert were California residents. In fact, several off-duty members from the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) were struck by gun-fire and sustained non-life threatening injuries.
Other victims, included couples celebrating anniversaries, friends celebrating birthdays, school personnel, a member from the Manhattan Beach Police Department, a Manhattan Beach special education teacher, a Disneyland employee, high school graduates, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins and many more.
The historic shooting has raised some concerns regarding mental health and gun laws and causing the U.S. and other countries to reflect on past incidents. In June of 2016, a gunman who claimed to support Muslim extremist groups opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida killing 49 people. Prior to that, a suicide bombing took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people in May. In 2015, almost 90 people were killed during a concert in Paris by Islamic State inspired gunmen.
The National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) president and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., offered his condolences for the victims’ families and called for a deeper conversation on gun violence in America.