Terror On The Strip
Bullets rained from the sky in a senseless shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas
Country music fans dropped to the ground or fled screaming from the scene of Jason Aldean’s performance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday night. Initial confusion gave way to panic as concert-goers realized that what many had thought to be fireworks was actually gunfire raining down on the approximately 22,000 concert attendees.
The massacre is said to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The current death toll has reached 59, though it may still rise with 527 injured. The body count in Sunday night’s shooting tops that of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 and last year’s Orlando Nightclub shooting.
The perpetrator has been identified as Stephen Paddock, 64. A retiree and resident of Mesquite, Nevada, Paddock was an avid gambler and the son of a serial bank robber, but according to his brother, he was an unlikely suspect.
Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip on September 28th, 2017. Over the course of the next few days, he managed to smuggle ten suitcases filled with firearms and ammunition into his 32nd-floor hotel room. Police reportedly found approximately 23 guns in the room, including AR-15-style assault rifles.
According to authorities, Paddock shattered the window of his hotel room with a hammer and, beginning at 10:08 pm, fired bullets down on the concert, which was located just 1,000 feet away.
Authorities quickly identified the source of the shooting. A SWAT team began sweeping the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel room by room. When they finally came to Paddock’s suite, he began shooting at them, firing several rounds through the door. By the time the SWAT team had broken into the room, Paddock had shot himself in the head.
Over the last few days, it has become clear that Paddock’s massacre was a meticulously planned operation. He not only smuggled two dozen firearms equipped with “bump” stocks, designed to increase the speed with which a gun can fire bullets, but he also planted cameras in the hallway around his room so that he would be aware when law enforcement inevitably arrived.
Paddock is survived by his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting. Danley was met at the Los Angeles airport by the FBI and is currently being questioned. Authorities hope that she will be able to provide insight into the gunman’s motive.
Immediately after the shooting, the slaughter was claimed by the Islamic State. However, upon further investigation by the FBI, there is no evidence that Paddock had ties to any terrorist organizations.
The indiscriminate and devastating carnage of the shooting was largely a result of the lack of cover. The venue was entirely open-air, with tents as the the only form of shelter. Survivors describe feeling trapped, knowing that whether they stayed low to the ground, or made a run for it, they were equally as exposed to the gunfire.
On Monday morning, the scene was eerie. Authorities described abandoned phones ringing for hours, and photographs show the chairs and other belongings of concert-goers scattered. Other images show the aftermath at local hospitals. Bloodstained floors were strewn with medical gloves and supplies, as nurses begin the process of cleaning up from a restless night.
President Donald Trump called the shooting an “act of pure evil,” but assured the country that, “Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence.” The president traveled to Las Vegas on Wednesday to comfort victims in local hospitals and meet with first responders. Authorities, including the president, praised law enforcement for their expedient reaction in the aftermath of the shooting.
Las Vegas native and Notre Dame sophomore, Kendrick Peterson, became aware that he had suffered a personal loss early Monday morning. A high school friend and classmate of Peterson’s was killed in the shooting.
“When I made the decision to attend Notre Dame, I was aware that time would continue to pass without me in Vegas…..However, to now have to rely on ‘Facebook check in’ to determine if I will ever see some of my friends alive again leaves me at a loss for words,” Peterson told the Rover. He described a surreal feeling of complete disbelief upon learning the news.
Here at the Rover, our hearts go out to all the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas and their family members and friends in the Notre Dame community. Know that you are in our prayers.
Keenan White is a junior majoring in political science and history, with a minor in constitutional studies. She was, in fact, named after Keenan Hall. To talk with her about that contact her at Keenan.M.White294@nd.edu.