A lone gunman released a rapid-fire barrage of bullets from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel late Sunday, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others attending a country music festival below, officials said.
It was the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
The shooter, identified by law enforcement officials as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, fired shot after shot from his room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino down on the crowd of about 22,000, sending terrified concertgoers running for their lives.
“We heard what sounded like firecrackers going off. Then all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a machine gun. People started screaming that they were hit,” witness Meghan Kearney told MSNBC. “When we started running out, there were probably a couple hundred people on the ground.”
Las vegas concert attack as it happened 😨 pic.twitter.com/Hec57CRh33
— UlstersNo1 (@going_for55) October 2, 2017
She added: “People kept dropping and dropping … People were getting shot one foot away from us. People were trying to save their friends. There were gunshots everywhere. Helping them would’ve meant that we got shot, too.”
Police responded to reports of the shooting just after 10 p.m. (1 a.m. ET). Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Monday that authorities believe Paddock killed himself before police entered his room. Earlier, officials had said police fatally shot Paddock.
The suspect is believed to have checked into the hotel on Sept. 28, Lombardo said, and had an “excess of 10 rifles” in his room.
It was not clear whether Paddock had specifically requested a room on a high floor that overlooked the concert venue or whether he had prevented housekeepers from entering his room in the days prior.
As the sun rose over Las Vegas, two broken windows could be seen from the 32nd floor of the hotel, curtains billowing out of them. Law enforcement officials believe Paddock had connecting rooms or a suite and ran between both windows, firing out of both, either to get a different vantage point or to avoid return-fire.
The shooting is not believed to be connected to international terrorism. Authorities have not said what kinds of weapons were found.
The shooting started while performer Jason Aldean was onstage. Witnesses described a chaotic scene of back-to-back bullets raining down from above, lasting for up to 10 minutes.
— TIME (@TIME) October 2, 2017
Fellow performer Jake Owen said he was standing about 50 feet away from Aldean when the shots started.
“It got faster and faster, almost like it was an automatic rifle,” Owen said. “At that point, everyone on stage started running everywhere.”
Owen dashed by victims covered in blood and eventually found shelter in his bus. The gunfire still hadn’t stopped by the time he got there, he said.
“It wasn’t something that was quick. It was chaos for a pure seven to 10 minutes,” he said.
Aldean, who was named the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year in April 2017, was performing on the final night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival at the Las Vegas Village. He later said via Instagram that he and his band were safe.
“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,” he wrote.
Witnesses said that the first round of shots sounded like fireworks. Only after the second burst of gunfire did the band stop playing.
“After the second round… everybody hit the ground around us,” concert-goer Sean said on TODAY. “It seemed like people were hit everywhere.”
Another concertgoer, Jon Bessette, described a scene of “pandemonium” as “the band ran off stage.”
“Everyone was running, people were getting trampled,” he said.
Source : NBC