LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured after a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night, according to authorities.
The gunfire, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, happened near the end of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival held across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino just after 10 p.m. Sunday.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the gunman began shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel tower. The man, identified as a 64-year-old Mesquite resident Stephen Paddock, was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted wound after SWAT team members used explosives to breach the hotel room moments after the shooting.
“Right now, we believe he is the sole aggressor,” Lombardo said. “We believe it is a lone wolf actor.” A large stockpile of 23 weapons, rifles ranging from .308 to .223 caliber as well as a handgun, were found inside the hotel room, Lombardo said. Several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a material used to make explosives, were also found in Paddock’s car.
Lombardo said at least 527 people were injured in the shooting, transported to five area hospitals.
“It is a devastating time,” Lombardo said. “This is a tragic incident, one that we’ve never experienced in the valley. My condolences go out to the loved ones who have lost their lives and their families and we will do the best we can to make it as easy as possible for you to get information as we go.”
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center said in a statement it received 14 patients who died and more than 160 who were injured. The statement said the Las Vegas hospital’s doctors performed about 30 surgeries and that police were still trying to notify relatives of the victims. Hospital CEO Todd Sklamberg said most of the hospital’s trauma team and staff worked through the night.
LVMPD and Clark County Coroner’s Office established a hotline for family or friends to report a missing loved one at (866) 535-5654. LVMPD also opened up a family reunification center at its headquarters at 400 S. Martin L. King Blvd. in Building B.
Lombardo said the process of identifying the wounded and dead from the shooting would be lengthy and asked for patience as authorities compile accurate information.
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Law enforcement had been searching for Paddock’s girlfriend for questioning in the case. The woman, 63-year-old Marilou Danley, was contacted by detectives and was not believed to have played any role in the shooting, although the investigation into her involvement would continue, Lombardo said. Danley was in Tokyo, Japan when contacted by authorities.
Investigators were also looking into Paddock’s previous trips to Las Vegas, which may have have included going to the Life is Beautiful concert last month.
Police also located two vehicles linked to Paddock and initially sought by authorities in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, including a Hyundai Tucson and a Chrysler Pacifica Touring.
Police surrounded and entered the one-story, three-bedroom home in the Sun City Mesquite retirement community, about 80 miles north of Las Vegas, where Paddock lived with Danley early Monday morning. Officers found another 19 weapons, explosives and several thousand rounds of ammunition inside the home.
Paddock reportedly had no criminal history except for a minor citation. There was no immediate word on the motive for the attack.
After the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse told reporters Monday that Paddock had no known connection to any terror group.
“We have determined no connection with an international terrorist group,” Rouse said.
The extremist group claimed that the shooter was “a soldier” who had converted to Islam months ago. It has made exaggerated or false claims in the past.
Paddock owned rental properties, held a private pilot’s license and liked to travel to Las Vegas to play high-stakes video poker.
As for why he went on the murderous rampage, his brother in Florida, Eric Paddock, told reporters: “I can’t even make something up. There’s just nothing.”
Kodiak Yazzie, 36, said he and his girlfriend were watching Jason Aldean’s performance when he heard what sounded like fireworks. The music stopped temporarily and started up again before another round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.
Thousands fled as bursts of gunfire could be heard for more than five minutes, Yazzie said.
“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” said Yazzie. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash.”
Some officers took cover behind their vehicles while others carrying assault rifles ran into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. The crowd, funneled tightly into a wide-open space, had little cover and no easy way to escape. Some victims fell to the ground, while others fled in panic. Some hid behind concession stands. Others crawled under parked cars.
Jose Baggett, 31, a Las Vegas resident, said he and a friend were in the lobby of the Luxor hotel-casino — directly north of the festival — when people began running. He said people were crying and as he and his friend walked away, they encountered police checkpoints where officers were carrying shotguns and assault rifles.
“There were armored personnel vehicles, SWAT vehicles, ambulances, and at least a half-mile of police cars,” Baggett said.
Couples held hands as they ran through the dirt lot. Faces were etched with shock and confusion, and people wept and screamed. Some were bloodied, and some were carried out by fellow concertgoers. Dozens of ambulances took away the wounded, while some people loaded victims into their cars and drove them to the hospital.
Some of the injured were hit by shrapnel. Others were trampled in the mass panic.
The shooter appeared to fire unhindered for more than 10 minutes as Las Vegas police frantically tried to locate the man in one of the Mandalay Bay hotel towers, according to radio traffic. For several minutes, officers could not tell whether the fire was coming from Mandalay Bay or the neighboring Luxor hotel.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is asking for anyone with videos or photos concerning the shooting to call 1-800-CALLFBI or (800) 225-5324.
Authorities shut down part of the Las Vegas Strip and Interstate 15 from Blue Diamond Road to Charleston Boulevard. Freeways in the area were reopened just after 2 a.m.
Lombardo said at least two on-duty LVMPD officers were shot, including one in critical condition and another with non-life threatening injuries. One off-duty officer was also confirmed to be among the dead, Lombardo said.
Hospital emergency rooms were jammed with the wounded. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat whose congressional district includes part of Las Vegas, said: “Literally, every single bed was being used, every single hallway was being used. Every single person there was trying to save a life.”
Aldean took to social media, posting on Instagram hours later, calling the shooting “beyond horrific.”
“I still don’t 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,” Aldean said.
Speaking from the White House Monday morning, President Donald Trump condemned the shooting as an “act of pure evil” and said the nation was “joined together in sadness, shock and grief.”
Speaking slowly and somberly, Trump declared that the nation would rally together in the face of the latest act of senseless violence.
“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence,” the president said. “It is our love that defines us today.”
Trump also ordered that flags be flown at half-staff to honor the victims of the shooting. The proclamation calls for all flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday.
Previously, the deadliest mass shooting had been an attack at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that killed 49. Before that, the deadliest shooting in the U.S. was the 2007 attack at Virginia Tech, in which a student killed 32 people before killing himself.