[Updated to reflect casualties and injured] This story doesn’t easily slot into any topics that SL2R blog covers, but when the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history happens in Las Vegas, which it did late Sunday during a country music festival, with 59 confirmed dead so far and about 527 injured, we must post.
Police have identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, who was reportedly shooting from the 32nd floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel, just picking off victims at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where some 22,000 concert goers had gathered to hear singer Jason Aldean’s performance. Police later found the gunman dead in his hotel room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothing, wandered streets, where the flashing lights of the city’s gaudy casinos blended with those of emergency vehicles,” according to Reuters.
This was a day for the commander-in-chief to be a comforter-in-chief, and help the country make sense of the carnage.
“This was an act of pure evil,” President Donald Trump said in a statement Monday. “In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one — and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us — our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.”
He ordered all federal flags lowered to half-staff Monday and is expected to visit Las Vegas to meet with victims, families and responders.
Gun control advocates and celebrities wasted no time politicizing the issue, calling for gun control measures, or issuing ridiculous “what if…he had a silencer” statements with the facts still rolling in. This is tone-deaf timing.
Speaking of tone deaf and dumb, the DailyCaller reported that a “top legal executive at CBS, Hayley Geftman-Gold, said she “‘is not even sympathetic’ for the victims of the shooting at a country music festival at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas Sunday night,” because, she said, country music fans usually are Republicans. She was reportedly fired.
In response to a reporter asking about whether the shooting would alter the president’s policy of supporting gun rights, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today was not the day to engage in policy discussions about gun control.
Today was about helping the victims, their families and securing a crime scene while finding out what drove this depraved act.
“Shortly after announcing blood drives to help victims of a mass shooting that left at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured, hundreds of people in Las Vegas showed up to donate,” reported local TV station, Ch. 3 News. Local police said so many had showed up to donate that all the blood banks in the city had a six hour wait. More details on where to donate blood are here.
In an emotional statement lauding the selflessness of strangers who stepped in the way of harm to save other strangers’ lives during the shooting, this is what Huckabee Sanders highlighted: “What these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could,” she said.
“The Gospel of John reminds us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. The memory of those who displayed the ultimate expression of love in the midst of an unimaginable act of hate will never fade.
“Their examples will serve as an eternal reminder that the American spirit cannot and will not ever be broken. In the days ahead we will grieve as a nation, we will honor the memory of those lost as a nation, and we will come together united as one nation, under God and indivisible.”
Reuters reports that the gunman lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada and that police believe he acted alone. They do not know why he attacked the crowd. “The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the massacre, but U.S. officials said there was no evidence of that.”
Las Vegas Police Department St. Randy Sutton, in an interview with Fox News, said the investigation of what happened will be monumental to understand what motivated “this madmen to act as he did. There will be no closure for the families until this is [figured out],” he said.
“Does this make it personal to me? You’re damn right it does. This is going to affect thousands of thousands of people in a deeply personal way. And it will affect all of America. This event is a time for unity. We must set aside the petty animosities, the politics, and stand up as one America.”