A gunman has opened fire at a country music festival near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, killing more than 50 people in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, officials say. More than 200 others have been injured.
The incident began at about 10:08 p.m. PT on Sunday when heavy gunfire erupted at the end of a performance by country music star Jason Aldean, who was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. Witnesses said hundreds of bullets were fired and the gunshots appeared to be coming from a higher altitude.
Police chief Joe Lombardo said the gunman was firing from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, where the suspect was later shot and killed by police. The gunman was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a man from the city of Mesquite with a criminal history.
The motive for the massacre was not immediately known and it remains unclear whether the attack is linked to terrorism. A 62-year-old woman identified as Marilou Danley was described as a person of interest, but officers were able to locate her by 3:30 a.m. It’s unknown what role – if any – she may have played in the attack.
Hospitals near the scene of the attack were overwhelmed by the large number of casualties, some of whom were rushed to hospital by citizens in private vehicles. The large number of victims forced several hospitals to turn away patients who were not seriously injured.
Lombardo confirmed later on Monday morning that more than 50 people had been killed in the shooting, including at least two off-duty police officers. More than 200 others were injured and taken to area hospitals, though specific figures were not yet known. At least 12 people were reported to be in critical condition at University Medical Center.
With more than 50 dead and 200 injured, it is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Jason Aldean said that he and his crew were not among those injured. “Tonight has been beyond horrific,” he said in a post on Instagram. “My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”
Several off-duty police officers from Bakersfield, California, were among those attending the festival and one of them was shot, causing non-life-threatening injuries. “Some of our officers witnessed the gunfire but were not in a position to return fire,” the Bakersfield Police Department said in a statement.
McCarran International Airport, which is close to the scene of the shooting, was closed as a precaution as the situation unfolded. Nearly two dozen flights were diverted to other airports and dozens more were delayed, but limited flight traffic resumed on early Monday morning.
“A tragic and heinous act of violence has shaken the Nevada family. Our prayers are with the victims and all affected by this act of cowardice,” Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman thanked first responders, writing on Twitter: “Pray for Las Vegas.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed about the shooting and the administration is monitoring the situation. On Twitter, Trump said: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
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