At least 59 people were killed and 527 others wounded after a gunman opened fire Sunday on a concert in Las Vegas in the U.S. state of Nevada, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Police found more than 10 rifles in the hotel room where the gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, killed himself. Additional 18 firearms, explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition were then found in the suspected shooter’s house in Mesquite, Nevada, said Joseph Lombardo, sheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMDP).
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called the mass shooting an “act of pure evil,” promising to visit the city on Wednesday.
Trump led a moment of silence at the White House Monday afternoon for the victims of the terrible mass shooting, and ordered flags lowered to half-staff at government buildings across the country.
As many Americans mourned the loss of their beloved ones, some began to reflect upon the horrific tragedy.
REFLECTION ON TRAGEDY
“During times like these, we solemnly remember the victims, but we must also ask ourselves why these horrific events continue to transpire. Our nation needs stricter, commonsense gun laws,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement released Monday morning.
He said that “we cannot continue to play politics with American lives.”
“What happened politically is that we get the same mindset that yes this is terrible, yes this is tragic, yes something should be done. And then a week or two later something else gets our attention. And the gun issue declines,” said Jon R. Taylor, political science professor of University of St. Thomas in Houston.
“It’s never an issue in presidential campaigns. It’s brought up but nobody would really talk it that much other than the occasionally mass casualty incident,” said Taylor.
“I have a problem with letting anyone buy a weapon. There’s nothing to check to see if this person has some type of anger history, mental history, is emotionally dysfunctional, or a loner. These characteristics are typical of the people who do these mass shootings,” said Robert Marsh, an IT professional in Houston.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Monday that “there will be a time for policy debate” on gun control, but now is not the time.
“Today is a day for consoling the survivors, and mourning those we lost … there’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” Sanders said during a press briefing.
More than 22,000 people were attending the outdoor music festival when the gunman rained bullets from a high-floor hotel room of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, police said.
The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the massacre, but U.S. authorities said there was no immediate evidence of any terrorist link.
In a brief statement at a news conference Monday morning, FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said the bureau had “determined to this point no connection of an international terrorist group.”
The gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday night at approximately 10:08 p.m. local time (GMT 0508 Monday), Lombardo told reporters.
Shortly before midnight, SWAT teams responded to the call, breached the gunman’s hotel room and found the suspect had killed himself. Police said the gunman had smashed the windows with a hammer-like tool before opening fire.
Clark County has declared a state of emergency following Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. Clark County Manager Yolanda King issued the proclamation.
MISTAKEN FOR FIREWORKS
“The Las Vegas Strip is one of the most well-recognized tourist destination in the world,” the county manager said.
“This event on the Las Vegas Strip has significantly strained local public safety and first responder resources and left other parts of the community vulnerable; and the County Manager finds that potential threats exist to the health, life, safety, and welfare of persons and property,” she added.
The gunfire that interrupted the concert was initially mistaken for fireworks.
Thousands of panic concertgoers screamed and sought for cover when it turned out to be dozens of bullets in rapid-fire bursts.
Country singer Jason Aldean was on stage when the gunfire broke out at the Route 91
Harvest Country Music Festival, a three-day country music event, according to the City News Service.
Aldean called Sunday night’s shooting “beyond horrific.”
The sound of an automatic weapon being fired can be heard in a video clip posted online by people attending the concert during the attack. The kind of firearm that made the noise was reportedly not easy to purchase in the United States.
Among the dead is a police officer who was off-duty at the time. His name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
There were also two on-duty officers injured, one of whom was upgraded recently from critical to stable condition. The other sustained non-life threatening wounds, according to LVMPD.
“We huddled tightly together, trying to avoid the gunfire. We chose not to run as the shooters seemed to target the moving crowds. Pressed against the ground while so many around me had been shot, their innocent blood on my face,” a witness, Emily Rogers, shared her horror moment on Facebook.