At least 59 people were killed and over 500 more injured when a lone shooter opened fire on a crowd at a concert in Las Vegas Sunday night. Country star Jason Aldean was singing to a large outdoor crowd at the final concert of the 3-day Route 91 Harvest Festival when shots began to ring out. Many initially dismissed the sounds as fireworks but the scene quickly dissolved into chaos and terror. Some were injured when trying to flee the scene.
The gunman has been identified as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old former accountant and avid gambler who lived in a retirement community Northeast of Las Vegas. He fired on the crowd from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. When SWAT stormed the room, he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, with “20 rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition” around him, authorities reported. Among the weapons found with Paddock were AR-15-style assault rifles, certainly consistent with the machine gun sounds of the shooting.
Although ISIS took responsibility for Paddock’s attack early on Monday morning, no link has been found to ISIS or any other terrorist organization. Those who knew Paddock describe being shocked. The man had no criminal record and Paddock’s brother Eric said that he was “not an avid gun guy at all.” Police have searched Paddock’s home and searched for his girlfriend, who was initially considered a suspect but was found to be out of the country during the shooting. Nothing has yet been released about the potential motivations for Paddock’s heinous act of domestic terrorism.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for this tragedy to fuel political fire and outrage. Those in charge, including President Trump, have refused to label the act terrorism, as is often the case when the killer is white. Many on Twitter have called out the hypocrisy of how events are covered based on the perpetrator’s race. Actor Jesse Williams pointed out that many news stories about Paddock talk about his hobbies and interests, whereas “when an unarmed Black person gets killed, the 1st thing we learn are her/his vices.”
The issue of gun control is also front and center. Although one of the worst mass shooting events ever, the Las Vegas attack was America’s 273rd mass shooting in 2017 alone. Yet, those in charge (many of whom have received money from the NRA lobby) say that talking about gun control right now is too soon. When will the time be right? We know with statistical certainty another attack is just around the corner.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this horrific shooting.
Photo Credit: ABCNY 7