A Las Vegas shooter opened fire on crowds of concertgoers at a country music festival Sunday night, killing at least 50 and injuring more than 200—making this the deadliest U.S. shooting in history, and most lethal attack since 9/11.
The shooter took aim at festival attendees from a window in the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, say eyewitness reports. At first, attendees thought they were hearing fireworks, but once people realized what was happening, chaos ensued. Thousands fled the scene in terror, while others sought cover beneath bleachers.
Las Vegas draws some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year, notes Reuters. The Route 91 Harvest Festival, which took place in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, was “packed with visitors” when the shooting began just after 10 p.m. The Associated Press estimates that 40,000 people were present at the concert.
— THE INSURANCE MAN (@babahererra) October 2, 2017
“Everybody’s hiding everywhere, they’re hiding under the bleachers and the stanchions, anywhere they could and everyone is telling us to ‘run, run as fast as you can,'” one witness told CNN. “And my husband and I ran out toward our car and there were people hiding underneath my car for cover and there was a gentleman who was shot and he said, ‘can you help me?’ and so I put him in my car and I had like six people in my car, people without shoes, running, just to get away.”
Police report that the attacker was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who lived in a Mesquite, Nevada retirement community. Police used explosives to enter Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor of the hotel, and he was killed in the ensuing engagement. Multiple firearms were found in his room. Police believe they have Paddock’s “associate,” Marilou Danley, in custody. They report that Paddock had no criminal record, and is not believed to be connected with any militant group.
“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said. “Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor and the scene is static.”
According to Lombardo, two policemen are in the hospital—one in critical condition, one stable after surgery. Death reports are, at this point, still early and tentative.
“Obviously this is a tragic incident. And one that we have never experienced in this valley,” Lombardo said.
Reports on social media suggested other resorts in the Vegas region experienced attacks, but Lombardo said “that has been proven to be false.”
Mike McGarry, a 53-year-old financial adviser from Philadelphia, protected others when he began hearing the shots. “It was crazy – I laid on top of the kids. They’re 20. I’m 53. I lived a good life,” he told Reuters. His shirt was covered in footmarks from panicked concertgoers who ran over him in the crowd.
Country music singer Jason Aldean was performing when shots rang out. He posted this on Instagram this morning:
Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate
President Donald Trump was briefed on the shooting this morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed. “We are monitoring the situation closely and offer our full support to state and local officials,” she said in a press release. “All those affected are in our thoughts and prayers.” President Trump tweeted his support and prayers to those affected around 7 a.m. this morning:
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2017
For families looking to locate missing loved ones, please call 1-866-535-5654.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
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