Jamaica Gleaner / LAS VEGAS (AP):
A gunman perched on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel-casino unleashed a hail of bullets on an outdoor country music festival below, killing at least 58 people as tens of thousands of concertgoers screamed and ran for their lives, officials said yesterday. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
At least 515 others were injured in the Sunday night attack, authorities said.
SWAT teams using explosives stormed the gunman’s hotel room in the sleek, gold-coloured glass skyscraper and found he had killed himself, authorities said. The gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree from Mesquite, Nevada, had as many as 10 guns with him, including rifles, they said.
Asked about the motive for the attack, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said: “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.”
The sheriff said a check of federal and state databases showed Paddock was not on law enforcement authorities’ radar before the bloodbath.
Aaron Rouse, the FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas, said investigators saw no immediate evidence connecting it to an international terror organisation, despite a claim of responsibility from the Islamic State group.
Country music star Jason Aldean was performing at the end of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival in front of a crowd of more than 22,000 when the gunman in the 44-floor Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino apparently used a hammer-like device to smash out windows his room and opened fire, authorities said.
The crowd, funnelled tightly into a wide-open space, had almost no cover and no easy way to escape.
Kodiak Yazzie, 36, said the music stopped temporarily after the first shots, then started up again before a second round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.
“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Yazzie said. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash.”
Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the attack was the work of a “crazed lunatic full of hate.”
Paddock’s brother, Eric Paddock, who lives in Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel: “We are completely dumbfounded. We can’t understand what happened.”