Sunday night, a lone gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip opened fire on a country music festival, killing at least 58 people and injuring at least 500 others in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The Washington Post reports, Gunman in Las Vegas kills at least 58, injures 500 more in shooting rampage:
The gunman, identified by police as Stephen Paddock, age 64, was later found dead by officers on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said during a news briefing Monday.
The massacre marked the nation’s latest outbreak of gunfire and bloodshed to erupt in a public place, again spreading terror in an American city transformed into a war zone. The carnage in Las Vegas surpassed the 49 people slain in June 2016 when a gunman in Orlando, who later said he was inspired by the Islamic State, opened fire inside a crowded nightclub.
Lombardo said investigators could not immediately identify a motive, leaving no clear answer as to why a gunman killed at least 58 people and possibly more. He also said an additional 515 people were injured, though he did not specify how many were wounded by gunfire or injured in the chaos that followed.
Paddock was found dead in his hotel room by Las Vegas SWAT officers, police said. They believe Paddock, who had checked in on Thursday and brought a cache of guns into the room, took his own life.
Under the neon glow and glitz of the Vegas Strip, thousands of concertgoers who had gathered for a three-day music festival dove for cover or raced toward shelter when the gunfire began at about 10 p.m. Sunday. Police said more than 22,000 people were at the concert when Paddock began firing round after round, shooting from an elevated position that left those on the ground effectively helpless. The typical advice for reacting to an active shooter — “run, hide or fight” — was rendered moot, as many in the packed crowd could not easily run or hide, nor were they able to fight back at someone firing from so far away.
Police described Paddock as a “lone wolf” attacker. Lombardo did not give further details on Paddock’s background and possible motivation, saying that police “have no idea what his belief system was.”
“I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” Lombardo said during a later briefing Monday. He also said that given the belief that Paddock was a lone attacker, “I don’t know how this could have been prevented.”
Police said Paddock smashed his room’s window — which would appear to those below to be gold — with something similar to a hammer before he began to fire, pumping off rounds that were audible in rooms floors away. Paddock was found with more than 10 rifles, Lombardo said, and he brought them all inside himself.
One official familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified discussing it, said the scene inside the hotel room suggested Paddock had spent a lot of time meticulously planning the attack – particularly for someone with no known background in weaponry.
The official pointed to a number of factors suggesting the foresight and deliberation that went into the attack – bringing a large quantity of weapons and ammunition, a tool to knock out the hotel room window before firing and keeping all of that equipment out of sight of hotel staff until he was ready to carry out the attack.
Relatives of Paddock’s said they were stunned by what happened. Paddock had retired and lived in Mesquite, Tex., for several years before moving to the Nevada town with the same name. Relatives described him as a quiet man, a licensed pilot who liked to gamble. His brother, Eric, said their mother spoke to the FBI.
“She said, ‘I don’t understand why my son did this,’” Eric Paddock said Monday morning outside his home in Orlando. While his brother had some handguns, Eric Paddock but was shocked by the weaponry police described in Las Vegas.
Eric Paddock said he did not know of his brother having any mental illness, alcohol or drug problems. When he spoke to the FBI, Eric Paddock said he showed FBI agents three years of text messages from his brother, including one that mentioning winning $250,000 at a casino. Stephen Paddock played “high stakes video poker,” Eric said, adding that he did not have any information suggesting the 64-year-old gunman had gambling debts or financial issues.
Their father, Benjamin, was one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives decades ago, a convicted bank robber described in one wanted poster as “psychopathic” with suicidal tendencies. Eric Paddock told reporters that Benjamin, their father, was not around much during their childhood.
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As Las Vegas police investigated the horror that had unfolded on the Strip, they also faced a tragedy within their own ranks. The dead included an off-duty city police officer, the department said Monday morning. Two other officers who were on duty were injured, police said; one was in stable condition after surgery, and the other sustained minor injuries.
“It’s a devastating time,” Lombardo said at one of the news briefings he held.
In the initial chaotic aftermath of the shooting, authorities sought a woman named Marilou Danley, described only as Paddock’s “traveling companion.” Lombardo said during a briefing that investigators spoke with Danley, who was found outside the country, and do not believe she was involved in the shooting, though she remained a person of interest.
Her relationship with Stephen Paddock was not immediately known, but they lived at the same address in Mesquite, Nev., according to public records. Lombardo said police in Mesquite searched Paddock’s home on Monday.
Police in Las Vegas had only minimal interactions with Paddock before the shooting, Lombardo said.
“We have no investigative information or background associated with this individual that is derogatory,” the sheriff said. “The only thing we can tell is he received a citation several years ago; that citation was handled as a matter of normal practice in the court system.”
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On Monday President Trump praised the “miraculous” speed with which local law enforcement responded to the shooting, which he decried as an unfathomable attack on innocents gathered for a concert.
“It was an act of pure evil,” Trump said during remarks from the White House. “We cannot fathom their pain, we cannot imagine their loss.”
Trump ordered flags flown at half-staff and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Federal homeland security officials said there were no specific, credible threats to other public venues around the country, while federal agents headed to Las Vegas to support the local police leading the investigation.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it dispatched agents and began “conducting urgent traces on firearms” recovered after the shooting. FBI criminal investigators — rather than those in the bureau’s National Security Branch — are also helping local police in the case, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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“We have determined, to this point, no connection with an international terrorist group,” Aaron Rouse, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Las Vegas, said at a news briefing.
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The shooting occurred at the end of the Route 91 Harvest festival, a three-day country music concert held over the weekend. The concert grounds are adjacent to the Mandalay Bay, a sprawling casino on the southern end of the Strip.
The shots began as Jason Aldean, one of the final performers, was playing. Aldean posted an Instagram message that he and his crew were safe. The scene, he wrote, was “beyond horrific.”
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At least some people were injured in the frenzied effort to flee the gunfire. Tracy, 55, a California woman who declined to give her last name, said she was “trampled” trying to flee.
BREAKING: The New York Times reports that “More than 19 rifles were found in the hotel room of the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting, a law enforcement official confirmed, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.”
“Among the weapons authorities discovered were two rifles with scopes on tripods positioned in front of the two windows that had been broken out, a law enforcement official said.”
Hotel security at Mandalay Bay Resort are going to have some questions that law enforcement and th FBI want answered.