As the Las Vegas community continues to grieve after Sunday’s mass killing, Vice President Mike Pence delivered an address from City Hall this afternoon, saying, “I stand before you… on behalf of my family and every family in America to say we’re with you today; we are all Vegas Strong.”
Second Lady Karen Pence offered the closing prayer at the end of hour ceremony that included speeches from faith leaders and elected officials.
Pence’s visit comes days after the indiscriminate shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip that left 58 dead and scores injured, the worst mass killing in modern American History. Pence said President Donald Trump, who visited with first responders on Wednesday, asked him to visit.
The shooting was a “tragedy of unimaginable proportions,” Pence said, giving an ode to first-responders and “everyday Americans,” who through their actions avoided further bloodshed, he added.
“Every day, from this day forward, we will remember their selflessness and courage whenever we remember that dark hour,” Pence said. The thousands of concert attendees in the line of fire and the first responders came “face to face with pure evil…but no evil, no act of violence will ever diminish the strength and goodness of the American people.”
Pence, in his speech, gave an ode to those affected by the shooting, such as Metro Officer Charleston Hartfield, 34, a military veteran, who was attending the concert and died trying to help others; Jack Beaton, 54, a construction worker who was shielding his wife when he was fatally wounded; Sandra Casey, a 34-year-old special education teacher, and Hannah Ahlers, 34, who Pence said was the “sunshine of her family.”
Then Pence mentioned Aaron Stalker, an Army veteran who rushed to the concert after his girlfriend told him that her mother was wounded, according to the Washington Post. Not being able to find the women, and his sister, who was with them, Stalker spent hours helping others.
There was also Taylor Winston, a U.S. Marines veteran, who “borrowed” a pickup truck to drive patients to the hospital, Pence said.
Pence was joined by Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto and Dean Heller, Rep. Dina Titus, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and faith leaders. Reps. Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen, and City Council officials were in the audience.
Goodman asked for the community to not be defined by anger, hate, violence or fear, and she called on remembering the victims and not the shooter, who she called a “horrific, senseless animal.”
Heller thanked first responders for their “work courage and strength,” adding that a “madman” tried to change “our lives,” but although he brought destruction, he failed.
Cortez-Masto said she was amazed by the community: “we’ve shown our nation that we are compassionate…we stood together this week, we’re together today.”
Titus called for prayer for leaders to rid the gun violence that “plagues our nation.” She broke down as she said, “we are Las Vegas Strong.”
The event preceded a faith unity walk that began from four separate locations and concluded at City Hall. As march participants began filing in about an hour before Pence’s speech, city staff announced the “walkers are here,” and they were met with a round of applause.
The march was planned in February and happened to coincide with the tragedy, Pastor Michael Hatch said.
Invoking first responders, Pastor Kevin Chapman said that they will need “our prayers” long after today.
After the event, Mike and Karen Pence shook hands and took photos with those in attendance, which included law enforcement and dozens of people who participated in the faith unity walk.
Following the speeches, 58 doves were being released to honor those who died in the shooting.
During their Las Vegas visit, Mike and Karen Pence reportedly stopped by the makeshift memorial where 58 white crosses have been in the south Strip.