Before 10 p.m. local time on Oct. 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, NV. Paddock was perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, facing Las Vegas Blvd. The shooting killed 58 people and wounded over 500 people, 120 of whom were still hospitalized on Wednesday. This marks it as the bloodiest mass shooting among civilians in American history. Among the wounded are at least three off-duty police officers from Southern California. Despite a quick response from the police, they were unable to apprehend Paddock, who killed himself when confronted by police. The attack lasted a little more than ten minutes. Police also reported a “suspicious device” further down the street but later determined it was not an explosive.
The attack appears premeditated and thoroughly planned. Paddock was checked into the hotel since Sept. 28 with at least 23 firearms in his room. Between his hotel suite and home, police found 47 firearms, which he accumulated over the years since 1982. Video footage from the attack indicates he may have used an NFA Class 3 fully automatic weapon, unlike other shooters. After investigating Paddock’s weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) concluded that he used a ‘bump stock’ accessory, which uses recoil from commonplace semi-automatic weapons to simulate fully automatic fire. Authorities released a public bulletin, searching for his two vehicles and a possible accomplice. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo asked the public to provide any videos of the shooting they have, many of which were already uploaded to social media. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, although authorities have not found any evidence linking him to ISIS or any other foreign terrorist network, and authorities still do not know his motive. Paddock’s girlfriend, who was overseas during the attack, was taken in for FBI questioning at LAX airport. Investigations involve several facts about the killer that distinguish this from other mass shootings, including his age, wealth, weapons, and transferring $100,000 overseas before the attack.
The shooting sparked another series of discussions on how to protect large, open crowds. Counter-terrorism expert and Cal State San Bernardino Professor Brian Levin suggested more police departments employ the tactics of, among others, the LAPD and NYPD by stationing precautionary snipers on rooftops. Experts say that after the attacks on Las Vegas, Ariana Grande’s Manchester concert, and others in France and Germany, many countries will reassess their counter-terrorism strategies.
President Trump visited Las Vegas on Oct. 4, praising the Las Vegas police for saving lives. “The police department, they’ve done such an incredible job. And we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes on. But I do have to say, how quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a miracle. They’ve done an amazing job,” Trump said before leaving hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. The president visited survivors and the operations center of the LVMPD, praising the “indescribable” job of medical workers.
Democrats have begun pushing for more national gun regulations. Trump declined directly discussing the issue, aside from the above quote. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said they will “look at things that may actually have that real impact” when national gun regulations are discussed. Some Republican House members have come out in favor of further regulating or banning bump stocks.
Immediately after the attack, much of the surrounding area was closed, including McCarran International Airport and the I-15 freeway. The Las Vegas metropolis mobilized to help victims recover by donating blood and money to survivors. Jason Aldean, who was scheduled to perform at the time of the shooting, has cancelled upcoming concerts out of respect for the victims.