At least 59 dead, 527 injured in mass shooting on Las Vegas Strip


AP Photo/John Locher

Police officers advise people to take cover near the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Published Sun, Oct 1, 2017 (10:27 p.m.)

Updated Mon, Oct 2, 2017 (9:10 p.m.)

A gunman perched on the 32nd floor of a Strip casino unleashed a shower of bullets on an outdoor country music festival below, killing at least 59 people as some 22,000 concertgoers screamed and ran for their lives, authorities said. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

At least 527 people were injured, Metro Police said.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said SWAT officers and hotel security guards approached the gunman's hotel room at Mandalay Bay and a security guard was shot through the door in the leg. SWAT then used explosives to storm the room and found the gunman had killed himself. Authorities identified him as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite.

In the final police update on Monday, Clark County Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo said that the number of firearms found in Paddock’s two-room suite had climbed to 23.

While serving a SWAT warrant at the gunman’s Mesquite home, investigators found 19 additional firearms, several thousand rounds of ammo and some explosives, and unidentified electronic devices they’re looking into.

Late afternoon, officers in Northern Nevada were attempting to breach the suspect’s other house, being careful not to trip potential booby traps.

MGM Resorts International was coordinating to provide free rooms for victims and their families at the Bellagio and transportation via Southwest Airlines, Fasulo said. The company was working to obtain crisis counselors for guests, employees and vendors. Circus Circus has provided a space for the American Red Cross.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people died from gunshot wounds, as victims were transported with injuries ranging from shrapnel to trampling. Victims were “getting hurt one way or another,” Clark County Fire Department Chief Greg Cassell said in a late afternoon briefing. Some were hurt jumping fences.

As of Monday afternoon, staff from the Clark County Coroner’s Office picked up every body from the scene and transported them to the examiner’s office, which had sufficient room to accommodate 60 bodies, Coroner John Fudenberg said.

“Everybody in this room, everybody in this county right now, is suffering as a result of this tragic incident,” he said.

In a brief interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Paddock's brother Eric Paddock said he couldn't understand what happened and was "completely dumbfounded" by the shooting. He also said he made a statement to police.

Lombardo said police believed the shooting was a "lone wolf" attack but were looking for his live-in girlfriend, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, for questioning. Lombardo said police would talk to her when she arrived from Tokyo.

Lombardo said the gunman might have attended the Life is Beautiful held in downtown Las Vegas last month.

Dozens of police vehicles swarmed the Strip after authorities received reports of an active shooter near the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Concertgoers reported seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of Mandalay Bay and the sound of what they described as automatic gun fire.

“All I heard was a lot of 'bang, bang, bang,' and everybody hit the ground, and everybody started running,” said Patrick Martin, a Southern California resident, who was at the concert with his wife and son.

Corinne Lomas, who was also at the concert, said, “We heard a couple of pops, then it stopped. Then all of a sudden it started going again, and people started dropping."

Kodiak Yazzie, 36, said he and his girlfriend were watching country singer Jason Aldean perform when he heard what sounded like fireworks. The music stopped temporarily and started up again before another round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.

Thousands fled as bursts of gunfire could be heard for more than five minutes, Yazzie said.

Authorities have not determined a motive behind the shooting. But FBI Special Agent Aaron Rouse said authorities have determined no connection to any international terrorist group.

“I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” Lombardo said.

In a televised address to the nation, President Donald Trump called the attack an “act of pure evil.”

Hundreds are mourning the loss of a loved one today, Trump said. “We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss,” he said.

Trump praised Metro Police for its rapid response, which he called “miraculous.” He said he would travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with police, first-responders and the families of victims. He also directed that flags be flown at half staff.

As events unfolded on Sunday, some police officers responding to the shooting took cover behind their vehicles while others carrying assault rifles ran into Mandalay Bay.

Lombardo said social media reports of shooters at other resorts and of explosions on the Strip were both false. He said the only explosion that occurred was set off by SWAT officers gaining entry to the room where the shooter was firing.

Witnesses said they saw multiple victims and dozens of ambulances near the concert venue.

"We were watching the concert having a great time, then we heard what sounded like firecrackers," witness Joe Pitz said. "I guess it was an automatic weapon going off but it literally sounded like firecrackers."

"Then soon enough there was commotion on the Mandalay Bay side of the stage. They were motioning for medics to come and safety people to come and Jason Aldean ran off the stage," he said. "It was chaos."

Hours after the shooting, Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and said the shooting was “beyond horrific.” He said it “hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

Another witness, Monique Dumas, said she was "thinking it was fireworks, but then you realized that's not what it is because people are crouched and they're screaming. We just wanted to stay together so we held hands and ran together. Then every time we would hear shooting we would duck and keep running."

Candace LaRosa, 48, of Huntington Beach, Calif., said she also thought the shooting was part of a fireworks show. “We were all dancing, we were having a good time, all of a sudden I heard all of these shots,” LaRosa said. “It was just mass, mass blood everywhere.”

Gabe Allen, who identified himself as a restaurant manager from Boise, Idaho, said a friend standing within arm’s length of him was shot in the knee by what sounded like automatic gunfire from Mandalay Bay.

Waiting outside Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where his friend was being treated, Allen said he initially thought the gunshots were fireworks, but when the second stream of shots rang out, it became clear the crowd was being fired upon. He videotaped much of the violence on his phone — the segment lasted about five minutes.

Allen said he began trying to aid people who’d been hit, including a man bleeding badly from the head. He said it appeared the man had died, so he moved on to help other injured people.

Asked how he was coping with the tragedy emotionally, Allen said, “I’m honestly not really feeling anything right now. It was just all so surreal.”

Allen was one of several festival goers who streamed into Sunrise, some of them bleeding and brought to the hospital by private vehicles.

With at least 59 deaths, a total that could rise, the shooting is already the worst in U.S. history. The previous most deadly occurred in June 2016 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., where 49 people were killed.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of last night’s shooting, their families, and those still fighting for their lives," said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay. "We are working with law enforcement and will continue to do all we can to help all of those involved."

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak offered assurances that Las Vegas was safe and said he and Lombardo had set up a GoFundMe account to handle a flood of calls from individuals wanting to help the victims and their families.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said the community desperately needed blood and encouraged local residents to donate at United Blood Services locations.

He said Nevadans were “angry, grieving and confused” over the attack. “This is obviously unprecedented event in our nation’s history, and we’re going to have to learn from this,” he said.

Officials opened the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV as a shelter for people stranded after the concert or who couldn’t get back into their hotels.

After police searched their bags, people were given blankets, water and snacks. Many sat in arena seats, while others laid on the floor and tried to sleep.

Raymond Certeza, who works at the Mirage, said he heard the Thomas & Mack was being used as a shelter, so he grabbed snacks and phone chargers from home and drove down to help. He walked around handing out Pop-Tarts and other snacks to people and drove two people back to their north Strip hotels.

Other people also dropped off food and clothing. “Whatever we can do, we gotta do,” Certeza said.

Authorities shut down part of Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15, and most casinos on the Strip were letting people out but only allowing hotel guests to enter. Some flights destined for the McCarran International Airport also were diverted because of the shooting. At 1 p.m., the Strip reopened at Tropicana Avenue and Russell Road, as well as Frank Sinatra Drive and Reno Avenue behind the Mandalay Bay.

Clark County schools will be open on Monday, but absences will be excused for any students affected by the incident, officials said. Some buses are expected to be late because of road closures, officials said.

UNLV spokesperson Francis McCabe said the university would be open for classes on Monday. McCabe advised students, faculty and staff to allow extra time for travel around the school and to park away from the Thomas & Mack Center.

In Mesquite, police blocked the street Monday leading to what is believed to be the home of Paddock. It’s located in a retirement community for ages 55 and older.

Mesquite Police Sgt. Tracy Fails was among the law enforcement blocking off the entrance, and said he didn’t expect to be moved anytime soon while the investigation takes place.

“It’s a quiet place,” he said. “People are going to be very nervous.”

Tracy said the neighborhood is private property, and that he imagines the department could continue to block entrance to the community even after the home is searched.

Paddock is listed on county records as the owner of the home, built in 2014. The property’s total taxable value is listed at $353,266. It was last listed for sale in January 2015, and its last sale price was $369,022.

Resident Tom Jennings said his next-door neighbor had met Paddock a couple of times, noting most people in the retirement community keep to themselves.

“It’s extraordinary,” he said. “It’s very disturbing. ...Very average guy … people that met him said he was just a very nice, ordinary kind of guy.”

Las Vegas Sun reporters Ricardo Torres-Cortez, April Corbin, Jesse Granger, Yvonne Gonzalez, Thomas Moore, Ric Anderson, Brock Radke and Mick Akers, along with the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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