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2017 Las Vegas shooting

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2017 Las Vegas shooting
Las Vegas Strip shooting site 09 2017 4968.jpg
The music festival was held at Las Vegas Village, on the right, behind the two gray columns. Mandalay Bay is the gold building.[a][b][c]
2017 Las Vegas shooting is located in Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Village
Las Vegas Village
Mandalay Bay
Mandalay Bay
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 Daniel Defense v4, Lewis Machine and Tool Company LM308MWS, FN Herstal FN-15, AR-10, Kalashnikov rifle, revolver
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 hundreds of rifle rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after Paddock fired his last shot, 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.[1]

Background

Location

Since 2014, the Route 91 Harvest country music festival has been held annually at Las Vegas Village, a 15-acre (6.1-hectare) lot on the Las Vegas Strip used for outdoor performances. The venue is 450 meters (490 yards)[2] from the Mandalay Bay hotel in Paradise, Nevada,[3] diagonally across the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Mandalay Bay Road.[4][d]

Preparation

Paddock may have researched the possibility of attacking other outdoor concerts, including the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in August 2017.[5] The week before the shooting, he booked an apartment at The Ogden in Downtown Las Vegas, which overlooked the open-air Life Is Beautiful festival.[6][7]

Paddock arrived at the Mandalay Bay hotel on September 25, 2017. He booked a suite on the 32nd floor of the hotel, which was diagonally adjacent to his shooting targets in the festival lot.[8][a] He placed a "Do not disturb" sign on his door, organized the room, and stockpiled an arsenal of weapons.[9] Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Paddock carried more than ten suitcases into his hotel suite during his preparation for the shooting.[8]

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.[10][11] The firearms included AR-15 variants manufactured by Daniel Defense, FN Herstal, and Lewis Machine and Tool Company; Kalashnikov and AR-10 pattern rifles; and a handgun.[12][13] Two of the rifles were equipped with telescopic sights and mounted on tripods.[14][15] In the month preceding the shooting, he attempted to purchase a large quantity of tracer ammunition, but the gun dealer he approached did not have the item in stock.[16] Audio recordings of the attack indicated Paddock sustained a high rate of fire, using either a fully automatic weapon, or a semi-automatic weapon utilizing devices to simulate fully automatic fire.[17] Bump fire stocks were found on twelve of the guns, which allowed for the recoil to actuate the trigger at a rate of 90 bullets in 10 seconds.[e] The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined the guns were legal and legally acquired by Paddock.[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 Paddock may have had assistance from an accomplice.[6] Investigators searched Paddock's room and found a bulletproof vest and breathing apparatus, which were survival gear that Paddock never used.[23]

Shooting

Diagram of the scene where the gunman fired 490 yards (450 m) from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel towards the concertgoers at Las Vegas Village.[d]

Country music singer Jason Aldean was giving the closing performance for about 22,000 people on the third and final day of the festival.[24]

Shortly before 10 p.m. PDT, hotel security guard Jesus Campos was sent to the 32nd floor to investigate an open-door alert of a guest’s room. He encountered a barricaded door that prevented him from immediately accessing the floor. After arriving on the floor, he was shot at about 10:05, the approximate time when Paddock began firing into the crowd. It is unclear whether Campos was shot before, after, or at the same time Paddock began firing into the crowd. Campos was hit in the right thigh and 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 a report about 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. Campos stayed until the police arrived.[25][26][27][28][f] 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.[29][30][31][32]

Paddock used a hammer to break two of his suite's windows. He began shooting through the broken windows at about 10:05 p.m., ultimately firing hundreds of rifle rounds[33][34] approximately 490 yards (450 m) into the festival audience.[35][36][37] Many people in the crowd initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks.[38] During the shooting, a security fence hindered concertgoers from fleeing the 15-acre concrete lot.[39] The gunfire continued, with some momentary pauses, over the span of ten minutes and ended by 10:15 p.m.[40][41]

Two of the bullets fired by Paddock traveled 2,000 feet (600 m) to hit a large aviation fuel tank at McCarran International Airport. One of the bullets penetrated the tank, but the fuel did not ignite or explode, and was unlikely to have done so.[42]

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.[39] There were also multiple false reports of additional shooters at other hotels on the Strip.[43] 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.[39] 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 until being directed to seek medical attention for himself.[26][28]

Between 10:26 and 10:30 p.m., an additional eight officers reached the 32nd floor. They could no longer hear gunfire and moved systematically down the hallway, searching and clearing each room, using a master key 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.[41][39][44] Paddock was found dead, having shot himself in the head before the police entered.[45][46] At 11:27 p.m., officers announced over the police radio that one suspect was down.[41][47]

Casualties

Fifty-eight people (excluding Paddock) died as a result of the shooting, most by gunshot wounds.[48][49][50] They included 36 women and 22 men.[48] The oldest was 67, the youngest 20.[51] Six were from Nevada, 35 from California, 13 from other states, and four from Canada.[52] An additional 546 people were injured.[31] In the aftermath, many victims were sent 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.[4][53][54]

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 gunman Omar Mateen.[48][55][56]

Perpetrator

The dead gunman in the hotel room was identified as Stephen Craig Paddock,[57][58][59] a resident of a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada.[24][60] The 23 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.[18] During subsequent investigations, ammonium nitrate, 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.[61][62] Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said that while Paddock had "nefarious intent" with the material, he did not appear to have assembled an explosive device.[16][63]

Police believe Paddock acted alone and have not yet determined his motive, despite following more than a thousand leads.[46][16][64] Police said they had no investigative information or criminal history showing he was dangerous. His only recorded interaction with law enforcement was a minor traffic citation years before the shooting, which he settled in court.[65][66]

The week before the shooting, Paddock wired US$100,000 to an account in the Philippines, the country where his live-in girlfriend had traveled, and the transaction did not raise any suspicions.[63][67] Police, relatives, and neighbors described him as a high-stakes gambler.[66][68] 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.[69] He gambled at a high enough level to earn valuable comps, free benefits like rooms and meals; the Mandalay Bay suite in which he died had been provided to him as a comp. He was a familiar figure to casino hosts but not well known among high-stakes gamblers in Las Vegas, since he mostly played video poker.[70] Anthony Curtis of the Los Angeles Advisor told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that according to his sources, Paddock kept to himself and was a heavy drinker.[71]

Court records show Paddock married and divorced twice. He had no known children. His younger brother and others who were in close contact with him described him as an ordinary man with no apparent religious or political affiliation.[72]

Paddock was the son of Benjamin Paddock, a bank robber who was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list in 1969 after he escaped from federal prison. The elder Paddock was taken off the list in 1977 "when it was felt he no longer fit the 'Top Ten' criteria," according to the FBI's fugitive archive.[73][74] The FBI wanted poster said he was "diagnosed as psychopathic" and had "reportedly suicidal tendencies".[66]

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 as police SWAT teams combed the venue and neighboring businesses. McCarran International Airport was shut down for several hours.[75] Approximately 300 people entered the airport property as they fled to safety from the shooting.[38] This prompted officials to shut down all four runways. More than 25 flights were rerouted to ensure that no aircraft would be endangered by gunfire,[43] while other flights were canceled before airfield operations resumed at 12:40 a.m. on October 2.[76] At approximately 2:45 p.m. PDT on October 2, a state of emergency was declared in Clark County.[77][78]

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.[79] Millions of dollars have also been raised to help victims and their families.[80]

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called the shooting "a tragic and heinous act of violence that has shaken the Nevada family".[81] Jason Aldean, who was performing when the shooting started, posted his condolences on Instagram and noted all of those working with him at the show had survived the attack.[82]

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".[83][84] 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".[85] On October 4, Trump visited the shooting victims and first responders.[86]

The terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed that Paddock was their "soldier",[87] but an FBI agent said they had found "no connection with an international terrorist group."[88] ISIS provided no evidence for its claim, and terrorism experts noted that since Mosul liberation in October 2016, ISIS has on at least two other occasions made false claims of responsibility for attacks with which they had no connection.[89][90][91]

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.[92][93]

The shooting prompted support in the U.S. Congress for legislation that would ban bump fire stocks. The National Rifle Association (NRA) came out in favor of administrative bump fire stock regulations.[48] Some Congressional Republicans have also expressed their support of a prohibition of bump fire stocks.[94]

On October 2, Trump issued a proclamation to honor the victims and their families.[95][96]

The name "1 October" was declared the official title of the mass shooting for investigators, according to authorities with the Clark County Commissioner.[97]

Hoaxes

In the hours after the shooting, false information about the shooter's identity and motive went viral on social media. The fake news was circulated by Internet forums such as 4chan.[98] The website The Gateway Pundit misidentified the shooter, naming a different man and describing him as a registered Democrat.[99] The 4chan thread on which this misinformation was based was briefly featured in the "Top Stories" section of a Google search for the man's name.[100] The fake news website YourNewsWire spread false information about a second gunman shooting from the fourth floor of the hotel.[101] Two of Facebook's top trending pages were items from Sputnik, a Russian government news agency that has been described by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for European Policy Analysis as being a "Russian propaganda" outlet.[102][103] These included one story that falsely claimed the FBI had linked the shooter to a terrorist group.[104] The stories were later removed with an apology.[105] Stories linking the shooter to Antifa have also been discredited.[106]

Google and Facebook were criticized for prominently displaying such false news stories in some of their search results.[105][107][108] The two companies were said to have failed in their responsibility of keeping false stories from reaching the public.[109] Facebook later said its algorithms were designed to detect and remove false stories, but failed to work adequately in this instance.[107]

Misinformation

There have been several changes in the official account of Paddock's shooting of hotel security guard Campos. According to police officials, adjustments to a timeline of events are considered to be "minute changes" that are common in complex investigations.[26]

In a 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.[25][27]

Sheriff Lombardo dismissed allegations that the changing timeline is 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."[25]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b For (1) a graphic of the Route 91 Harvest Festival site (including the direction in which people fled, the bleachers under which people took cover, and an eight-foot fence over which people climbed), and (2) a diagram of the floor plan of the gunman's hotel suite and adjacent room (with connecting door), go to: "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.  and scroll down to the fourth image (entitled "What happened at the concert venue", for the graphic of the Festival site) and then to the eighth image (for the diagram of the hotel suite's floor plan).
  2. ^ For an aerial graphic (in detail) of the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert venue (at Las Vegas Village), go to: Myers, Amanda Lee (October 3, 2017). "Vegas hospitals swamped with victims after high-rise attack". MSN. Associated Press. Retrieved October 3, 2017.  and scroll down to the third image (entitled “Route 91 Festival concert”), which is an overall site plan that shows various locations in the Las Vegas Village festival grounds, including the three entrance gates ("1" on Mandalay Bay Blvd., "2" on Las Vegas Blvd., for V.I.P.’s, and "3" on Las Vegas Blvd.), the three exit gates ("4", "5", and "6", on Giles St.), the main stage, the VIP tent, the seating area, the market area, and the general area where the gunman’s bullets struck.
  3. ^ For (1) an aerial photo (taken on the day after the shooting) of the southern half of the Las Vegas Village festival grounds—showing the V.I.P. area (covered by a long, flat, white canopy), a tiered seating area with rows of blue-green seats, and the large, ground area (strewn with lawn chairs) where most of the concertgoers were seated—and (2) a black-and-white, photo-based, aerial image of the shooting scene—including the Mandalay Bay hotel (on the left, in color), the Route 91 Harvest festival site (on the right, in color), and a depiction of the trajectory of the rifle rounds (from the hotel’s 32nd floor to the festival grounds), go to: Crosby, Rachel; Brean, Henry; Hassan, Anita; Munks, Jamie; Bekker, Jessie (October 3, 2017). "'It was a horror show': Mass shooting leaves at least 59 dead, 527 wounded on Las Vegas Strip". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved October 3, 2017.  and scroll down to the first image (for the aerial photo) and then to the fourth image (for the aerial image of the shooting scene).
  4. ^ a b For (1) aerial photo of Mandalay Bay resort and casino, Luxor Las Vegas hotel & casino, and the site of the country music festival, and (2) street-map graphic of neighboring casinos (Tropicana, Excalibur Hotel & Casino, MGM Grand, New York-New York Hotel & Casino) and McCarran International Airport—in addition to Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and the site of the country music festival—go to: Zapotosky, Matt; Barrett, Devlin; Berman, Mark (October 2, 2017). "At least 59 killed in Las Vegas shooting rampage, more than 500 others injured". MSN. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 2, 2017.  and scroll down to the third image (entitled "Mass shooting in Las Vegas") for the aerial photo and (below the photo) the street-map graphic.
  5. ^ For information on the operation and firing pattern of a weapon using a bump fire stock, see: Buchanan, Larry; Grothjan, Evan; Huang, Jon; Parshina-Kottas, Yuliya; Pearce, Adam; Yourish, Karen (October 4, 2017). "What Is a Bump Stock and How Does It Work?". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ These cited references do not indicate whether the open-door alert originated from Paddock's suite or whether the reported jammed fire door was the barricaded door encountered by Campos

References

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