On Sunday night, the Las Vegas Strip was transformed into a horrific scene after a gunman fired on thousands of people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. At least 58 people were killed and over 500 left injured in what is now being called the deadliest mass shooting attack in U.S history.
The shooter has been identified as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old white male who resides in Mesquite, Nevada. At the moment, police are still trying to learn the motive behind the attack, but have expressed confidence that the man was acting as a “lone wolf.” Paddock used automatic rifles to fire down upon a crowd of over 22,000 people from a 32nd floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
When a SWAT team breached his room with an explosive device, they found the suspect dead upon entry, and believe that he killed himself. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that there was an “excess of 10 rifles" in Paddock’s room, and that he had been staying in the hotel room since Thursday.
The day after the attack, the ISIS-associated news agency Amaq stated that the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the FBI refuted this, responding that they have “determined, to this point, no connection with an international terrorist group." Little is known about Paddock thus far, but the shooter’s shocked brother told reporters that he was a multi-millionaire real estate investor and a big gambler at casinos. He also stated that Paddock never showed signs to his family that he could be violent and that, although he owned several guns, never collected firearms.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other local officials are calling for blood donations to help the scores of injured people. The morning after the attack, President Donald Trump said via Twitter, “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” He later delivered a White House address, calling the attack “an act of pure evil."
While the tragic event is likely to reignite the country into a heated debate over gun control and mental health care, it’s important to take a moment from politicizing to mourn over the victims of such senseless tragedy. Although details of the attack are still sparse, the mass shooting reflects a deep-seeded problem that has plagued America for a long time, and is one that can only be solved if we take collective action. At MERRY JANE, our hearts go out to the victims and families of this senseless act of violence.