JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter
Late on the night of Sunday, October 1, on the last day of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on throngs of unsuspecting concertgoers from his 32nd floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, 500 yards away from the concert venue.
The three-day country music festival came to a screeching halt as bullets from what appeared to be an automatic rifle rained down and sent those in attendance scrambling for safety. According to NPR, the death toll has reached 59 as of Tuesday with the number of those injured at a staggering 527, making this the deadliest mass-shooting in modern U.S. history.
Las Vegas police quickly made contact with Paddock but came under fire, backed off and called for SWAT. The hotel room was breached using explosives, and police entered to find Paddock dead from an apparent suicide along with “more than 10” weapons and “hundreds” of rounds of ammunition.
Although the international terrorist organization known as ISIS, or Da’esh, claimed to have inspired the attack, there is no evidence that the gunman was influenced by any group, and it is believed that Paddock acted alone. Police are searching a residence belonging to Paddock in Reno, Nev., but his motives are still unknown at this time.
“We are completely dumbfounded,” aid Erick Paddock, Stephen’s younger brother. “We can’t understand what happened.” According to the LA Times, neighbors and other people familiar with Paddock viewed him as “completely normal”.
The victims identified so far include Sonny Melton, a 29-year-old nurse from Nashville, TN who died while shielding his wife, Heather, from the barrage; 33-year-old Rachael Parker, a records technician for the Manhattan Beach police department; Sandra Casey, a special education teacher in Manhattan Beach, Cal.; a California kindergarten teacher, Jenny Parks; mother of three, Neysa Tonks; a 53-year-old elementary school employee, Susan Smith and many more whose identities have yet to be announced. You can see the victims’ profiles on CNN, here.
President Donald Trump issued a statement following the shooting.
“Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada,” Trump said. “He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil. I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts and for helping to save the lives of so many. The speed with which they acted is miraculous and prevented further loss of life.”
The Chanticleer will follow the case and provide updates as they are available.