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2017 Las Vegas shooting

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2017 Las Vegas shooting
View from the Foundation Room (24089601122).jpg
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Mandalay Bay hotel
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Route 91 Harvest country music festival grounds
Location Las Vegas Strip, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Coordinates 36°5′42″N 115°10′18″W / 36.09500°N 115.17167°W / 36.09500; -115.17167Coordinates: 36°5′42″N 115°10′18″W / 36.09500°N 115.17167°W / 36.09500; -115.17167
Date October 1, 2017 (2017-10-01)
c. 10:05 – 10:15 p.m. (PDT; UTC−07:00)
Target Audience of the Route 91 Harvest music festival
Attack type
Mass shooting, murder–suicide
Weapons 23 guns, including four DDM4 rifles, three FN-15 rifles, one AR-15 rifle with forward front grip, one .308-caliber AR-10 rifle, one AK-47, at least one made-to-order LMT rifle, and one handgun.[1]
Deaths 59 (including the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
546
Perpetrator Stephen Paddock

On the night of October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured. Between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m. PDT, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after Paddock fired his last shot into the crowd of 22,000, he was found dead in his room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His motive is unknown.

The incident is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. The shooting reignited the debate about gun laws in the U.S., with attention focused on bump fire stocks, which Paddock used to allow his semi-automatic rifles to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic weapon.

Background

Location

The Las Vegas Strip is a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada, immediately south of the City of Las Vegas. The Strip is known for its concentration of casinos and resort hotels, including the 43-story Mandalay Bay southwest of its intersection with Mandalay Bay Road, in the unincorporated town of Paradise.[2]

Las Vegas Village is located diagonally across the intersection to the northeast; the 15-acre (6.1-hectare) lot is used for outdoor performances.[2][3] The annual Route 91 Harvest country music festival has been held there since 2014; the 2017 festival ran from September 29 to October 1.[3][a]

Preparation

Paddock may have considered attacking other outdoor concerts. He reserved a room that overlooked the August 2017 Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, but did not use it. He appears to have stayed in Downtown Las Vegas from September 14 until the night of the shooting. Between September 22 and 24, he rented rooms at The Ogden, which overlooked the open-air Life Is Beautiful festival.[4]

Paddock arrived at the Mandalay Bay on September 25, 2017, and the hotel booked him into a complimentary room, because he was a frequent gambler at the casino.[5] Three days later, he moved to the 32nd floor suite, which overlooks Las Vegas Village.[6][b] He placed a "Do not disturb" sign on the door, organized the room, and stockpiled an arsenal of weapons.[7][8] Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Paddock carried more than ten suitcases into his hotel suite during his preparation for the shooting.[7]

Animation of a bump fire stock, showing how the trigger (red) is pulled by the trigger finger when the receiver is moved forward. It is reset when the receiver moves back due to recoil.

Twenty-three firearms, a large quantity of ammunition, and numerous high-capacity magazines capable of holding up to 100 rounds apiece were found in the suite.[9][10] The firearms included four DDM4 rifles, three FN-15 rifles, one AR-15 rifle with forward front grip, one .308-caliber AR-10 rifle, one Kalashnikov, and at least one made-to-order LMT rifle and one handgun.[11][12][13] Two of the rifles were equipped with telescopic sights and mounted on bipods.[14][15] Twelve of the guns were fitted with bump fire stocks,[11] which allowed for recoil to actuate their triggers at a rate of 90 rounds in 10 seconds.[16] The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the firearms found in his hotel room, along with more guns found in his homes, had been legally purchased in the states of Nevada, California, Texas, and Utah.[17] In the month preceding the shooting, he had attempted to purchase a large quantity of tracer ammunition, but the gun dealer he approached did not have the item in stock.[18]

Investigators found hidden surveillance cameras that were placed inside and outside the hotel room, presumably so Paddock could monitor the arrival of others.[19] The cameras were not in record mode.[20] Police said a handwritten note found in the room indicated Paddock had been calculating the distance, wind, and trajectory from his 32nd floor hotel suite to the concertgoers he was targeting on the festival lot.[21][22]

At a press conference on October 4, Sheriff Lombardo stated there was evidence—which he declined to discuss—that Paddock intended to escape the scene, and that he may have had assistance from an accomplice.[23] Investigators searched Paddock's room and found a "bulletproof vest" and breathing apparatus, which were survival gear that Paddock never used.[24]

During subsequent investigations, ammonium nitrate, which is often used in improvised explosive devices, was found in the trunk of his Hyundai Tucson SUV, along with 1,600 rounds of ammunition and 50 pounds (23 kg) of Tannerite, a binary explosive used to make explosive targets for gun ranges.[25][26] Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said that while Paddock had "nefarious intent" with the material, he did not appear to have assembled an explosive device.[18][27]

Shooting

Schematic of the shooting scene. Paddock indiscriminately fired hundreds of rifle rounds 490 yards (450 m) from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel towards the concertgoers at Las Vegas Village.

The mass shooting occurred between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m. PDT on October 1, 2017, which was the third and final night of the festival. When the shooting began, country music singer Jason Aldean was giving the closing performance in front of an audience of about 22,000.[28]

Shortly before 10:00 p.m., hotel security guard Jesus Campos was sent to the 32nd floor to investigate an open-door alert. He encountered a barricaded door that prevented him from immediately accessing the floor. After arriving on the floor, he heard drilling from Paddock's room and went to investigate. At approximately 10:05, he was hit in the right thigh by one of about 200 bullets that Paddock fired through the door of his suite. After Campos was hit, he immediately informed the hotel by radio and cellphone that he had been shot. At the same time, maintenance worker Stephen Schuck was on the same floor to check out the report of a jammed fire door. Campos, who was already injured, encountered Schuck and told him to take cover. Schuck contacted hotel dispatchers over his radio, informed them of the ongoing shooting, and told them to call the police.[29][30][31][32] Neither Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department nor MGM Resorts International, the Mandalay Bay's owner, have confirmed when information about the initial shooting was relayed to the police.[33][34][35][36]

Mandalay Bay, McCarran, and Route 91 (crop, no labels).svg
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Mandalay Bay hotel
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Main stage of Route 91 Harvest festival
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Jet fuel tanks at McCarran International Airport

Paddock used a hammer to break two of his suite's windows and began shooting through them at 10:05 p.m.,[37] ultimately firing more than 1,100 rifle rounds[38] approximately 490 yards (450 m) into the festival audience.[39][40][41][c] Many people in the crowd initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks.[42] During the shooting, a security fence hindered concertgoers from fleeing the 15-acre concrete lot.[43] The gunfire continued, with some momentary pauses, over the span of ten minutes and ended by 10:15 p.m.[44][45]

Two of the bullets fired by Paddock struck a large jet fuel tank at McCarran International Airport 2,000 feet (600 m) away. One of the bullets penetrated the tank, but the fuel did not ignite or explode because there was a very low probability that a bullet could ignite it.[46]

During the shooting, police officers were initially confused whether the shots were coming from the Mandalay Bay, the nearby Luxor hotel, or the festival grounds.[43] There were also multiple false reports of additional shooters at other hotels on the Strip.[47] Officers eventually spotted multiple flashes of gunfire in the middle of the Mandalay Bay, on the northern side, and responded to the hotel. At 10:12 p.m., two officers on the 31st floor reported the sounds of gunfire on the floor above them.[43] When officers arrived on the 32nd floor at 10:17 p.m. and encountered Campos a minute later, he directed them to Paddock's room and helped others evacuate. Campos was then directed to seek medical attention for himself.[30][32]

Between 10:26 and 10:30 p.m., an additional eight officers arrived at the 32nd floor. The gunfire had ceased, and the police moved systematically down the hallway, searching and clearing each room, using a master key that was provided by Campos. At 10:55 p.m., the officers finished evacuating guests. At 11:20 p.m., police breached Paddock's room with explosives.[45][43][48] Paddock was found dead on the floor from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.[49][50] While entering the hotel suite, an officer accidentally fired one round from his weapon, but the bullet did not hit anyone.[51] At 11:27 p.m., officers announced over the police radio that one suspect was down.[45][52] Early on October 2, Sheriff Lombardo identified the suspect as Stephen Paddock.[53]

Early reports

There have been several changes in the official account and timeline of Paddock's shooting of hotel security guard Campos. Police officials described these adjustments as "minute changes" that are common in complex investigations.[30]

In their first statement about the incident, police officials inaccurately reported that Campos arrived on the scene after Paddock began firing into the crowd. In a second statement, police officials reported, again inaccurately, that Campos was shot six minutes before Paddock began firing into the crowd. That report had been based on a 9:59 p.m. notation in a hotel security log, which in a third statement was determined to have been the time when Campos encountered the barricaded door.[29][31]

Sheriff Lombardo dismissed allegations that the changing timeline was the result of some kind of conspiracy between the police department, the FBI, and MGM Resorts International saying, "Nobody is attempting to hide anything in reference to this investigation. The dynamics and the size of this investigation requires us to go through voluminous amounts of information in order to draw an accurate picture."[29]

Casualties

In all, 58 people (excluding Paddock) lost their lives as a result of the shooting.[54][55][56] The fatalities included 36 women and 22 men.[54] The oldest was 67, the youngest 20.[57] Six were from Nevada, 35 from California, 13 from other states, and four from Canada.[58] An additional 546 people were injured.[35] In the aftermath, many victims were transported to area hospitals, which included University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, and at least one of the six hospitals of Valley Health System.[59][60][61] Sunrise Hospital treated the largest portion of the wounded: 199 patients,[62] 150 of whom arrived within a timespan of about 40 minutes.[63] For reasons that are unclear, most patients were transported to Sunrise, a Level II trauma center. University Medical Center, a Level I trauma center located closer to the shooting scene, treated only 104 patients.[64] Six victims sought medical treatment in Southern California; UC Irvine Medical Center treated four and Loma Linda University Medical Center treated two.[65]

The incident is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States, surpassing the death toll of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, where 49 died, excluding the gunman.[54][66][67]

Perpetrator

Stephen Paddock (April 9, 1953 – October 1, 2017)[68] was a former auditor and real estate businessman,[69] who had been living in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, which is 82 miles from the shooting scene.[70] Paddock was a high-stakes gambler who placed bets at a high enough level to earn valuable comps—free benefits such as rooms and meals. He was a familiar figure to casino hosts in Las Vegas, but was not well known among other high-stakes gamblers because he mostly played video poker.[5] He reportedly kept to himself and was a heavy drinker.[71] Police said he had made casino transactions in the tens of thousands of dollars prior to the shooting, but did not specify whether these transactions were losses or wins.[72] Sheriff Lombardo said Paddock had lost a significant amount of his wealth over the previous two years, which might have been a "determining factor" in the attack, but added that his motive may never truly be understood.[73]

Court records show that Paddock was twice divorced. He was single at the time of the shooting. He had no known children.[74] Paddock was the son of Benjamin Paddock, a bank robber who was on the FBI's most-wanted list between 1969 and 1977, whose wanted poster stated that he was "diagnosed as psychopathic" and "reportedly has suicidal tendencies".[75]

Police believe Paddock acted alone and have not determined his motive, despite following more than a thousand leads.[50][18][76] His younger brother and others who were in close contact with him described him as having no apparent religious or political affiliation.[74] Police said they had no investigative information or criminal history indicating that he was dangerous. His only recorded interaction with law enforcement was a minor traffic citation that he settled in court years before the shooting.[77][78]

Aftermath and reactions

The Las Vegas sign adorned with flowers on October 9, 2017, a week after the shooting

Much of Las Vegas Boulevard was closed while police SWAT teams combed the venue and neighboring businesses. McCarran International Airport, adjacent to the shooting site, was shut down for several hours.[79] Approximately 300 people entered the airport property as they fled to safety from the shooting.[42] This prompted officials to shut down all four runways. More than 25 flights were rerouted to ensure that no aircraft would be hit by gunfire,[47] while other flights were canceled before airfield operations resumed at 12:40 a.m. on October 2.[80] At approximately 2:45 p.m. PDT on October 2, a state of emergency was declared in Clark County.[81][82]

On the morning after the shooting, lines to donate blood in Las Vegas stretched for blocks. Wait times were as much as six hours or more.[83] Millions of dollars have also been raised to help victims and their families.[84]

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called the shooting "a tragic and heinous act of violence that has shaken the Nevada family".[85] Jason Aldean, who was singing when the shooting started, posted his condolences on Instagram and noted all of those working with him at the show had survived the attack.[86]

At a press conference, President Donald Trump described Paddock as "a very very sick individual", and "a demented man, [with] a lot of problems". He added, "the police department has done such an incredible job, and we'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by".[87][88] A White House official talking points memo, distributed to Trump allies, opposed tightening gun control since "new laws won't stop a mad man", but "will curtail the freedoms of law abiding citizens".[89] On October 2, Trump issued a proclamation to honor the victims and their families.[90][91] On October 4, Trump visited the shooting victims and first responders.[92] On October 7, Vice President Mike Pence participated in a unity prayer walk and ceremony in Las Vegas in honor of the dead.[93]

President Trump meets a Las Vegas shooting victim as his wife Melania looks on

Stock prices of firearms manufacturers rose the day after the shooting, as has happened after similar incidents. Investors expect gun sales will increase over concerns that such an event could lead to more stringent gun-control legislation and a rush of customers wishing to defend themselves against future attacks.[94][95]

According to authorities with the Clark County Commissioner, the name "1 October" was declared the official title for investigations into the mass shooting.[96] The future of the Las Vegas Village site remains undetermined.[97]

The shooting prompted support in the U.S. Congress for assault weapons legislation that would ban bump fire stocks. The National Rifle Association (NRA) came out in favor of administrative bump fire stock regulations.[54] Many Congressional Democrats and some Republicans expressed their support of a prohibition of bump fire stocks.[98] Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a Senate bill that gained 39 Democratic co-sponsors. Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in the House of Representatives. As of November, no Congressional action has been taken. House leaders said the issue of bump fire stock regulation should be decided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which originally approved gun-stocks.[99] On November 6, Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale, possession, or use of the devices.[100]

Nine days after the shooting, eighteen Democratic U.S. Senators introduced a bill, the Keep Americans Safe Act, which, if signed into law, would ban gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.[101]

The annual Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon took place on November 12 and was the largest event to be held in the city since the shooting. The event received a massive amount of security, which included 350 officers, counter-sniper surveillance posts, and a number of barriers composed of dump trucks, buses, and other large vehicles.[102]

Survivors of the shooting have received death threats on social media; they have also been accused of being paid actors.[103]

Hoaxes

In the hours after the shooting and during the succeeding days, false information and fake news about the shooter's identity and motive went viral on social media:

  • The website The Gateway Pundit misidentified the shooter when they named a different man and described him as a registered Democrat.[104]
  • A 4chan thread on which that misinformation of Gateway Pundit had been based had briefly featured in the "Top Stories" section of a Google search for the man's name.[105][106]
  • The fake news website YourNewsWire spread false information about a second gunman who was shooting from the fourth floor of the hotel.[107]
  • Two of Facebook's top trending pages were items from Sputnik, a Russian government news agency.[108][109] These included one story that falsely claimed the FBI had linked the shooter to a terrorist group.[110] The stories were later removed with an apology.[111]
  • Stories linking the shooter to Antifa have also been discredited.[112]
  • The terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) claimed that Paddock was their "soldier", and that he had answered Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's call to attack coalition countries,[113] but an FBI agent said they had found "no connection with an international terrorist group."[114] ISIS provided no evidence for its claim, and terrorism experts noted that since the Mosul liberation in October 2016, ISIS or Amaq News Agency has on at least two other occasions made false claims of responsibility for attacks with which they had no connection.[115][116][117]

Google and Facebook were criticized for displaying such false news stories in some of their search results.[111][118][119] The two technology companies were said to have failed in their responsibility of keeping false stories from reaching the public.[120] Facebook later said its algorithms were designed to detect and remove false stories, but failed to work adequately in this instance.[118]

In the aftermath of the shooting, some media outlets reported that YouTube search results for information about the shooting returned links to conspiracy videos. YouTube stated that it had tweaked its search algorithm to promote news sources which it considered more authoritative.[121][122]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ For the layout of the festival, see "Vegas hospitals swamped with victims after high-rise attack". MSN. Associated Press. October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ For a diagram of Paddock's hotel suite and connecting room, see: "Why did it take police so long to breach Las Vegas gunman's room? Here's a new timeline". Los Angeles Times. October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017. .
  3. ^ For an infographic of what occurred at the venue during the shooting, see the fourth image of: "Las Vegas Shooting: Chaos at a Concert and a Frantic Search at Mandalay Bay". The New York Times. October 2, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017. .

References

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External links

  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department: Press Releases, dated: October 2, 2017
  • List of victims fatally shot
  • Short tribute to each victim
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