LAS VEGAS, NV
Shortly after 10:00 PM PST, Sunday evening, a single shooter commenced a shooting spree at a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing, at last count 58 concert goers, in what is now regarded as the deadliest mass shooting event in American history. 515 victims of the shooter were injured in the attack.
The gunman was positioned on a 32nd floor balcony of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and unleashed a continuous barrage of fire on attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Festival – a three day country music concert hosted by the hotel. Gunfire erupted during Jason Aldean’s set.
At approximately 10:08PM, the first shots were fired, halting the concert and downing scores of concert attendees. In the initial moments, the rapid fire sounds of the rifle fire were mistaken for fireworks. Chaos ensued as people sought cover and ran for their lives, likely not knowing where the shots were coming from.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told reporters that SWAT units were deployed soon after the shooting was reported and discovered that the gunman occupied a room on the 32nd floor, overlooking the concert event. By the time police gained entry into the suite, they found the body of the shooter and “in excess of 10 rifles.”
Many, among the concert’s 22,000 attendees acted as impromptu first responders. While ambulances were headed to the scene, many people took the initiative to create makeshift stretchers for the dying, and using whatever could be obtained to halt the bleeding of the victims.
Gail Davis, who was among the crowd at the event, said “Everyone was running, you could see people getting shot. I’ve never been that scared in my life,” she added. “To have this happen, I can’t wrap my mind around it.”
Concertgoer Mike Cronk told ABC News that as Aldean was playing, it “kind of sounded like some fireworks going off. I think there was the first kind of volley, and then all of the sudden second volley.
My buddy’s like, ‘I just got hit, you know.’ He got hit three times. Then people started diving for the ground. And it just continued. “It was pretty much chaotic,” Cronk continued.
“Lots of people got hit. … It took a while to get him out. We had to get him over the fence and hiding under the stage for a while, you know, to be safe. And, finally, we had to move him because he had three chest wounds.”
Jason Aldean issued a statement:
“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.”
Jake Owen, a country singer who was on stage with Mr. Aldean when the shooting began, told CNN on Monday that it was like “shooting fish in a barrel from where he was. This is not an exaggeration: This shooting was going on for at least 10 minutes. It was nonstop.”
Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night's tragic events. We’re grateful for the immediate actions of our first responders. pic.twitter.com/Arf8edj1iZ
— Mandalay Bay Resort (@MandalayBay) October 2, 2017
The sheriff identified the suspected gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., who had no significant prior criminal history. Paddock’s family is having difficulty comprehending that Paddock would perform such a heinous act and have no clues as to motive.
Paddock’s brother Eric, in an interview with CBS, said that his brother was “not an avid gun guy at all,” adding, “if he had have killed my kids, I couldn’t be more dumbfounded. The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just — where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He has no military background or anything like that. He’s a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite and drove down and gambled in Las Vegas.”
Authorities, at this time, have no theories or information as to a motive and have no indication that any victims were specifically targeted.