58 Dead, 489 Wounded in Las Vegas Shooting

On the night of October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 489 injured. Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man, fired hundreds of rifle rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel approximately 400 yards away from the stage. He was later found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he fired his last shot. The incident marked the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

The attack was as inexplicable as it was horrifying. Paddock was a resident of a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, who had no investigative information or criminal history marking him dangerous. His only recorded interaction with law enforcement was a minor traffic citation years before the shooting, which he settled in court. Described as a high-stakes gambler, he was the son of a notorious bank robber.

Paddock arrived at the hotel on September 25, 2017, arousing no suspicion stockpiling an arsenal of 23 guns and high-capacity magazines capable of holding up to 100 rounds apiece, their calibers ranging from .223 to .308, some with scopes, in more than ten suitcases. Audio recordings of the attack suggests Paddock sustained a high rate of fire, using either a fully automatic weapon or a semi-automatic weapon utilizing devices to simulate fully automatic fire. Gun purchase records indicate Paddock legally bought more than two dozen firearms across a period of years before the shooting. The incident consequently roused debate over gun control in the United States.

Paddock broke two of his suite’s windows with a hammer and started firing from an elevated position on an open-air venue, leaving his victims few options to avoid harm. Unfortunately, many people in the crowd initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks, which made evacuation even harder. The gunfire continued with some momentary pauses over the span of ten minutes and ended by 10:15 p.m.

During the shooting, police officers were initially confused where the shots were fired from, and multiple false reports of additional shooters made the early-correspondence harder. When the police breached Paddock’s room at 11:20 p.m., he was found dead, having shot himself in the head before the police entered. Multiple social networks including Facebook and Google were criticized for publishing false information of the shooter’s identity and intentions to the public. The confusion and fear elevated with inaccurate reports and timelines from the police.

The death toll in Las Vegas was massive, surpassing the 49 casualties by a gunman in Orlando in June 2016. While Paddock was not known to be a supporter of the Islamic State, or a Muslim of any type, the ISIS took credit for the Las Vegas massacre. The FBI has stated that it doesn’t believe the attack was related to international terrorism.

While many aspects of the story still remain unclear, this is a moment for us to help each other and make a difference.

– Jihyeon Je ’19

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