At least 59 people were killed and 527 injured after a retired accountant, Stephen Paddock, opened fire at a country concert near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas strip, sending panicked crowds fleeing throughout the area. One witness told CNN he saw “dead bodies everywhere.” It’s now the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Be aware that some of the videos and photos later in this story from the scene are disturbing and graphic. You can learn more about the victims’ lives here. This man said a victim died in his arms:
Paddock was identified as the gunman in the shooting, according to NBC News. Paddock is a 64-year-old from Mesquite, Nevada who lived in a quiet retirement community. He did not have a criminal history, police said. CNN reported that he was also the poker-loving son of a convicted bank robber and was divorced.
The shooter’s motive is not yet clear, but police have said they don’t think the shooting was an act of terrorism, at least not at this point. Police also sought Marilou Danley, the suspect’s roommate, for questioning, and they said they have now found her. CNN is reporting, though, that she was out of the country when the attack occurred, and police have now cleared her, saying they don’t think she had anything to do with it.
This video above shows the moment gunshots rang out at the Route 91 concert. One man wrote with the video, “Video courtesy of Drew Akioshi. He was attending the concert at mandalay bay when shooting started.” @KTNV Beth Fisher, citing police source, “said shooter had 8 guns & 2 platforms set up to shoot from + cameras set up to see police arriving,” Twitter reports says. Later reports said Paddock had even more weaponry than that.
CBS is reporting that this photo, from Danley’s Facebook page, shows Stephen Paddock:
The situation remained fluid and chaotic in the early morning hours of October 2, and police scanner traffic said that victims’ family members were starting to gather at the scene of the horrific shooting, which occurred as the still unidentified gunman unleashed a barrage of gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.
Despite widespread reports that there were possibly multiple shooters, police said later, though, that they think there was just one gunman, who was down in the Mandalay Bay hotel, writing, “At this time we do not believe there are any more shooters. More information to come shortly from @Sheriff_LVMPD.”
The gunman had a cache of weapons both in his home and in the hotel – more than 30 in all, according to Fox News.
Police had confronted the shooter in the hotel room, from which he was firing, they said in a news conference. It’s believed that he took his own life in that room.
It was a frightening and unclear scene all night long. Frantic police dispatch audio throughout the morning contained reports of possible multiple suspects, casualty “collection points,” crowds running in panic, shootings at other Vegas hotels, 1,000 people holed up at a Michael Jackson venue, and reports of explosives. In the end, though, police said only Paddock fired, and there was only one shooting scene – at the Route 91 concert right outside the Mandalay Bay hotel in which he was holed up.
Some of those reports remain unconfirmed; others were ruled out as police were sent from hotel-to-hotel chasing false reports of other shootings from panicked people.
The situation grew increasingly chaotic and frightening on the Las Vegas strip.
Scanner traffic was extremely grim, as the incident continued to expand, and police were dispatching “strike teams” to numerous other Strip hotels for what were ultimately false reports or location checks.
Some videos of the scene were being posted to social media as news broke. There were not very many details confirmed about the incident early on October 2 as it was just breaking, but eyewitnesses described hearing multiple, rapid-fire gunshots, and some even said they believed there was more than one gunman based on the number of shots fired. They were wrong, though, police say, calling Paddock a “lone wolf.”
Some reported gunmen or a gunman firing from an elevated position as mass pandemonium broke out in many places on the Las Vegas strip.
You can listen to live police scanner traffic here.
“One suspect down inside the room,” scanner traffic said shortly after 2:24 a.m. on the east coast.
One eyewitness said, “Bullet flying everywhere….they were ricocheting everywhere from where we were….multiple shooters. It has to be.”
One woman wrote on Twitter, “OMG omg someone just started shooting!!!!!!! @crazykiller1320 and I are at MGM locked in with others @Ddm1870 @cbarrow711 – at Mgm Grand KÀ Box Office.”
There were reports early on that the active shooter was at a country music festival.
Route 91 Harvest bills itself on Twitter as “a three day country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip / Sept 29- Oct 1!” Country singer Jake Owen, tweeted, “Gun shots!!! Vegas. Pray to god. Love you guys. Love you Pearl.”
Reports flooded in on Twitter of the active shooter.
The panic unfolded quickly.
Other earlier tweets from the incident include:
“NUMEROUS DOWN. OFFICERS PINNED. MANDALAY BAY. LAS VEGAS.”
“#LasVegas. Active shooter situation at the Mandalay Bay hotel. One officer has been shot. Emergency services are in attendance.”
“Just evacuated from @MandalayBay, casino floor, active shooter reported.”
“Current shooting going on @ Mandalay Bay. Stay away from the area if you’re near!”
“Stay off of the strip everyone! Active shooter near Mandalay Bay..”
“ACTIVE SHOOTING ON THE STRIP BY THE MANDALAY BAY, STAY HOME AND STAY SAFE 🙏🏽💙 GOD BLESS.”
People were texting loved ones about the shooting.
Some people wondered whether it was a terror attack, but there was no word from authorities yet on suspect, motive, or even confirmation of what was going on as the shooting broke out around 1:30 a.m. on the east coast. A few hours later, said they did not think terrorism was the trigger, but they had not determined Paddock’s motive.