Outside of the Mandalay Bay Resort at 10:08 p.m. (1:08 a.m. ET Monday) in Las Vegas, rapid bursts of gunfire took the lives of 50 people, and injured more than 400 – making this massacre the deadliest in United States history. The shots were first heard at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, in the middle of country singer Jason Aldean’s concert. The festival attracted more than 300,000 attendees, and nearby hospitals are overwhelmed with wounded concert goers.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan police confirmed a suspect was down at 2:58 a.m., imploring people to stay away from the area. Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of Clark County identified the sole gunman as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nevada.
Paddock fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which directly overlooks the casino strip that hosted the three day festival. Prior to police entrance, Paddock committed suicide inside his hotel room. A thorough search of the room led to the discovery of at least 10 rifles, and a Mesquite police spokesman reported to have found ammunition in Paddock’s residence.
The Sheriff did not address the act as one of terrorism, instead describing Paddock as a “distraught person” intent on causing mass casualties, as reported by USA TODAY.
Early Monday morning, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacre, asserting that Paddock was a soldier who converted months ago. It is worth noting that the group often claims responsibility for acts by individuals with little to no evidence, and no motive has been confirmed at this time.
Speaking from the White House, President Donald Trump called the mass shooting “an act of pure evil” according to Politico.
The President will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday, where he will spend time with the first responders, the victims, and their families.
The family of Paddock has also responded, telling the Daily Mail that “an asteroid fell on us” upon hearing of the attack.
Eric Paddock, the brother of the shooter, said that “he had no political affiliation, no religious affiliation, as far as we know. Our condolences go to the victims and their families.”
The National Compassion Fund, which distributes donations from the public directly to the victims of a mass crime, and the Southern Nevada chapter of the Red Cross are asking for help to support the victims affected by the tragedy. Donations can be made online at https://nationalcompassionfund.org/ and http://www.redcross.org/local/nevada/southern-nevada/ways-to-donate.