A gunman opened fire at an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, killing at least 50 people and injuring more than 400 others in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in US history, surpassing the Pulse night club shooting in June of 2016, an attack that claimed 49 lives.
64-year-old Stephen Paddock targeted the crowd during Jason Aldean’s performance, directing the “nonstop gunfire” from the 32nd floor of his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Police arrived at the scene of the shooting after 10 PM (1 AM EST), shooting and killing Paddock in the hotel after entering the room through the use of explosives. Authorities uncovered a series of weapons housed in Paddock’s room, among which were ten rifles. The shooting is not currently thought to be an act of international terrorism.
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
Sunday night marked the final evening of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. While Jason Aldean and his band later confirmed that they had remained unharmed via Instagram, fellow festival performer, Jake Owen, described the gunfire, having stood at a 50 ft radius from Aldean when Paddock began shooting. “It got faster and faster, almost like it was an automatic rifle, At that point, everyone on stage started running everywhere,” Owen said. “It wasn’t something that was quick. It was chaos for a pure seven to ten minutes.”
Active shooters at Mandalay Bay/Route 91 with automatic weapons & people down. Stay away from the Vegas strip! pic.twitter.com/81D6GEEInu
— Justin Aaron Morris (@IAMJUSTINAARON) October 2, 2017
The gun shots were initially mistaken for fireworks, prompting Aldean’s band to stop playing only after the second burst of gunfire. The crowd assembled for the festival consisted of more than 22,000 people.
“I had no idea of where it [the gunfire] was coming from or where to run to,” a concert goer stated, describing the mad dash made by many trying to avoid the shots. Bodies littered the concert grounds as those not grazed by the bullets sprinted away from the scene. Those hit were forced to cover their wounds with their hands or with their clothing to limit bleeding while waiting for the gunshots to halt and for medical personnel to arrive.
Departing and arriving flights from the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas were temporarily suspended in the wake of the violence. Police had been searching for Paddock’s roommate, 62-year-old Marilou Danley from Mesquite, but have reportedly spoken with Danley and do not believe that she is related to the atrocity. Danley is currently said to be out of the country. It appears that Paddock was using some of Danley’s identification, although it is not clear in what way such information was used.
We will continue to update this story as further details emerge.
UPDATE [12:30 PM EST 10/2/2017]: According to a series of new reports the attack has claimed 58 lives with more than 515 attendees injured. According to a Las Vegas police spokesman, the numbers are not concrete and “continue to increase” as authorities investigate the incident and sort through the aftermath. More details to come.