At least 58 people were killed and over 500 others injured in a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. As reported by Reuters, the Las Vegas shooter converted to Islam months ago, said the Islamic State news agency Amaq. Empathising with those who lost their lives, US President Donald Trump said the shooting ‘was an act of pure evil’.
He said he will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to visit the first responders and the families. Trump ordered that flags should fly at half mast after the shooting.
Police identified the gunman as area resident Stephen Paddock, 64, and said they had no information yet about his motive. “We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “We’ve located numerous firearms within the room that he occupied.” Authorities believed they had located Paddock’s roommate, who they identified as Marilou Danley. He gave no details of whether she was suspected of involvement in the attack but described her as an “associate.”
Thousands of panicked people fled the scene, in some cases trampling one another. Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothes, wandered the streets after the attack. Police had located two cars that belonged to the suspect. The dead included one off-duty police officer, while at least one other officer was critically injured, Lombardo said.
US President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the victims via a post on Twitter early Monday. “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” Trump said. The concert venue was in an outdoor area known as Las Vegas Village, across the Strip from the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor hotels. “Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night’s tragic events,” the Mandalay Bay said on Twitter.
The shooting broke out on the final night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event attended by thousands and featuring top acts such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean. “Tonight has been beyond horrific,” Aldean said in a statement on Instagram. “It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”
Video taken of the attack showed panicked crowds fleeing as sustained rapid gunfire ripped through the area. “It sounded like fireworks. People were just dropping to the ground. It just kept going on,” said Steve Smith, a 45-year-old visitor from Phoenix, Arizona, who had flown in for the concert. He said the gunfire went on for an extended period of time. “Probably 100 shots at a time. It would sound like it was reloading and then it would go again,” Smith said. “People were shot and trying to get out. A lot of people were shot.”
The attack eclipsied last year’s massacre where 49 people were killed at an Orlando night club. The rampage was reminiscent of a mass shooting at a Paris rock concert in November 2015 that killed 89 people, part of a wave of coordinated attacks by Islamist militants that left 130 dead. Las Vegas’s casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year.
with inputs from Reuters